‘Bennett needs to wield the axe’
ANTHONY Milford and Kodi Nikorima can't be selection untouchables, it's time for coach Wayne Bennett to wield the axe - here are the five things we learned from Brisbane's loss to the Knights.
1. Kalyn Ponga is a State of Origin star in the making. Ponga turned 20 last week and has played just 14 NRL games but the Knights fullback is good enough to be playing for Queensland next year. The former Broncos scholarship holder came back to haunt Brisbane, showing electric footwork and superb awareness, as evidenced by his sublime short-ball for Lachlan Fitzgibbon's try in the 31st minute. He ran for 176 metres.
2. Broncos coach Wayne Bennett needs to wield the axe and put a rocket up the entire squad. Brisbane were beaten in every facet by a Knights side that was more enthusiastic and more physical in midfield. Defence is attitude and Brisbane's laziness at marker led to Daniel Saifiti's crucial 55th minute try which proved the matchwinner.
3. Brisbane halves Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima can no longer be selection untouchables. Bennett said he will stick with the duo but the Broncos coach needs to be honest about their performances. Milford and Nikorima are playing with minimal control and they are lacking the game-awareness and understanding to bring some fluency to Brisbane's attack. Something needs to change quickly.
4. Brisbane's big-name forwards are suffering a World Cup hangover. Lock Josh McGuire and back-rower Matt Gillett are usually Brisbane's most reliable forwards but they are playing well below their best. Gillett is lacking his usual energy in defence and McGuire is running without the vigour that made him so dangerous at Origin level last season.
5. The Broncos need to make a tough decision on Jack Bird. You can't pay a player $800,000 to flounder in the centres and barely make an impact. Bird needs his hands on the ball closer to the action, possibly at five-eighth.