Throughout the 2016 NRL finals series, we’re paying tribute to the premiership-winning teams of the modern era. Next we have the Brisbane Broncos’ maiden success in 1992.
Brisbane was at something of a crossroads heading into 1992. After qualifying for its first finals series two years early, the club controversially shoved Queensland legend Wally Lewis out the door – but slumped to a seventh-place finish after a poor start to ’91.
Captain Gene Miles and fellow stalwarts Greg Dowling and Dale Shearer left at the end of the year, with under-pressure coach Wayne Bennett installing the 25-year-old Allan Langer as skipper. The Broncos – long regarded as have a soft underbelly – also made a key signing in Glenn Lazarus, who had established himself as the game’s best prop at Canberra.
But the early indications were the Broncos might be set for a year as the perpetual bridesmaid, losing finals in the pre-season World Sevens and Challenge Cup competitions.
With Canberra and Penrith – the clubs that had contested the previous two grand finals – struggling, however, Brisbane quickly surged into premiership favouritism. The Broncos dropped only four regular-season games, and headed into the playoffs on a seven-match winning streak.
Langer was the competition’s dominant player, winning the Rothman’s Medal, while his combination with the Walters twins, Kevin and Kerrod, was at its zenith.
Steve Renouf became recognised as the code’s most dangerous centre partnering Chris Johns, 19-year-old Julian O’Neill cemented the fullback spot, and Willie Carne and Michael Hancock were arguably the premiership’s top two wingers.
Up front, Lazarus transformed the Broncos’ play, while the likes of Gavin Allen, Trevor Gillmeister, Terry Matterson and Alan Cann followed his lead with career-best campaigns.
After sitting out the first week of the finals, the minor premiers stormed into their first grand final with an Allan Langer-inspired 22-12 defeat of Illawarra in the major semi.
The Broncos were anything but overawed in the decider against St George, turning a 6-4 halftime advantage into an emphatic 28-8 victory.
‘Alfie’ was an obvious Clive Churchill Medal recipient courtesy of his two-try display, while Cann also bagged a double, and Renouf scored an unforgettable 90-metre try as the premiership prize headed north of Sydney for the first time.
The Broncos finished a vintage year by swamping all-conquering English giants Wigan 22-8 at Central Park a month later, and confirmed their status as one of the all-time great club combinations by coming with a wet sail to take out the 1993 premiership – the first team ever to win a grand final from fifth spot.
BRISBANE BRONCOS – 1992 STATISTICS
Regular Season Record: Played 22, won 18, lost 4; points for 506, points against 311.
Finals Matches: Major Semi-final – d. Illawarra 22-18; Grand Final – d. St George 28-8.
Biggest Win: 30-2 v Cronulla, Round 1.
Biggest Loss: 24-10 v Penrith, Round 4.
Most Games: Trevor Gillmeister, Julian O’Neill (24).
Top Try-scorer: Allan Langer, Steve Renouf (12).
Top Point-scorer: Terry Matterson (156).
Player of the Year: Kerrod Walters.
Award Winners: Rothman’s Medal – Allan Langer; Clive Churchill Medal – Allan Langer; Dally M Winger of the Year – Willie Carne; Dally M Prop of the Year – Glenn Lazarus; Dally M Players’ Player – Allan Langer.
— GreatSportsTeams (@Gr8SportsTeams) 25 September 2015
— LeagueHQ (@LeagueHQ1) 26 February 2015