Monday 18 December 2017 / 04:43 AM

BRONCOS’ WORST-EVER XIII

The Brisbane Broncos’ history is generally a highlights reel of glory and achievement, but there’s a group of big-name recruits, journeymen and ill-equipped local juniors who have failed to live up to the club’s sky-high standards.

  1. Ben Barba – 25 games (2014)

The former Dally M medallist headed to Brisbane in 2014 in an attempt to resurrect his career after going off the rails at Canterbury. After scoring 72 tries in 97 games for the Bulldogs, Barba managed just three touchdowns in 16 starts at fullback before Anthony Griffin moved him to five-eighth, where a hat-trick against Newcastle was a rare highlight in a thoroughly underwhelming campaign prior to an abrupt return to Sydney.

  1. Scott Minto – 39 games (2002-06)

After names like Carne, Hancock, Sailor and Tuqiri manned the wings in Brisbane’s grand final-winning line-ups, putting up with Scotty Minto was a slap in the face for Broncos fans. Even his career highlight – a golden point try against Melbourne in 2003 – became a laughing stock thanks to a bizarre, gazelle-like leap. So bad he was good, the Wayne Bennett doppelganger has attained perpetual cult-hero status.

  1. Nick Emmett – 17 games (2006-08)

In the final round of 2007, Brisbane – needing a win to grab fifth spot – led Parramatta 16-6 when the gangly Emmett bombed a certain try. The unforgiveable error rocked the injury-ravaged Broncos, who crashed to a club-record 68-22 loss, finished in eighth spot and were despatched by the Storm a week later. A Bennett pet, Emmett followed the supercoach to the Dragons, where he was predominantly kept out of trouble in the forwards.   

  1. James Roberts – 25 games (2016)

Lightning-quick Roberts’ arrival to take Justin Hodges’ centre spot was touted as the coup of the summer, with a NSW Origin call-up seemingly inevitable. But the flyer was a rank disappointment, struggling on both sides of the ball save from a few flashes of brilliance, and landed in more alcohol-related trouble off the field to put his place at the club in jeopardy. Humiliated by Roosters opponent Dale Copley, who was cut loose to accommodate Roberts, in a late-season clash.

  1. Dale Shearer – 27 games (1990-91)

A genius at rep level who went off the boil at club level after an acrimonious split with Manly in 1989, ‘Rowdy’ gave little value to the Broncos during a two-season stay. Shunted from his favoured fullback spot by young guns Paul Hauff and Julian O’Neill, Shearer was cut loose after playing just nine games in 1991, and went on prove equally frustrating for the Seagulls, Crushers, Roosters and Cowboys. Shearer shaded Lachlan Maranta, Steve Michaels, Daniel Vidot and Scott Blacker for a spot in this side.

  1. Aaron Gorrell – 12 games (2009)

Goalkicking rake Gorrell nailed an after-the-siren sideline conversion for the Saints to sink the Broncos at Suncorp in 2006, but never came closer to repeating those sort of heroics when he called the ground home three seasons later. Signed from Catalans to fill the No.9 hole left by Michael Ennis, Gorrell was swiftly unseated by rookie Andrew McCullough. His only NRL contribution during the second half of the season was as an inadequate two-game replacement for Darren Lockyer at five-eighth. 

  1. Ben Hunt – 166 games (2009-16)

Hunt wouldn’t be in this line-up if not for his shattering golden-point kick-off drop in the 2015 grand final, but what is frequently overlooked is he came up with a stack of poor plays as the Broncos choked against the Cowboys. The super-talented playmaker’s ordinary follow-up campaign this year – after two wonderful seasons – cements his place in this side, and reportedly has him on track to be shopped off to Parramatta at the end of 2017, if not sooner.

  1. Joel Clinton – 45 games (2008-09)

A grand final hero and one-Test Kangaroo from Penrith, Clinton was on the downhill when he lobbed in Brisbane. His most memorable moment at the club was a record $50,000 fine for breaching the Broncos’ code of conduct after taking a woman back to the team hotel.

  1. Richard Swain – 21 games (2003)

Famed for his massive tackle counts and ironman efforts, Swain’s appeal waned during his one-season stint with the Broncos. The Kiwi Test stalwart’s run of 147 consecutive first-grade games ended mid-season, and he linked with Hull following the Broncos’ swift finals exit.

  1. Sam Backo – 20 games (1989-90)

After a breakthrough 1988 that included debuts for Queensland and Australia and the Dally M Prop of the Year gong, Canberra bookend ‘Slammin’ Sam’ became part of home migration of Maroons stars to Brisbane in 1989. Backo retained his Queensland jumper during both seasons with the Broncos, but injuries saw him play just five club games in 1990 and the burly prop was forced into retirement at just 29. 

  1. Ashton Sims – 56 games (2008-10)

Although he went on to enhance his reputation with the Cowboys, Broncos fans will never be able to forgive Sims’ fumble in the dying seconds of the epic 2008 semi-final against the Storm, which allowed Greg Inglis to score a last-gasp try and end Wayne Bennett’s 21-season tenure at the club.

  1. Martin Kennedy – 16 games (2014)

Earmarked as a future Queensland forward, ex-Rooster Martin Kennedy was snapped up by the Broncos in 2014 but produced little and was released from the final two years of a rich contract. He rejoined the Roosters but was issued with an infraction notice for doping offences and is currently still under suspension.

  1. Todd Lowrie – 18 games (2014)

A two-time grand final winner at Melbourne, Lowrie’s modest one-season stay with the Warriors did nothing to excite Broncos fans ahead of his 2014 arrival. The hardworking journeyman lived up to those expectations in 18 NRL appearances, before being restricted to Queensland Cup duties in 2015. Lowrie’s most memorable moments as a Bronco were labelling Brookvale Oval a “shithole” and being KO’d by Frank Pritchard.

Coach: Ivan Henjak – 51 games (2009-10)

Following in Wayne’s footsteps was always going to be difficult, and long-serving assistant Henjak arguably overachieved by taking the Broncos to a prelim final in his first year. But by all accounts he was prickly, intense and unapproachable character while at the helm, and the Broncos’ 18-season finals streak came to an end under his charge – which ultimately saw him sensationally axed just a couple of weeks out from the 2011 season.

[YouTube – The Sideline Report]

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