Locky urges Broncos: It’s time to man up
BRISBANE legend Darren Lockyer has challenged the Broncos to grow up and unearth a new generation of leaders to deliver a premiership in the Anthony Seibold era.
As Brisbane recover from the Payne Haas saga, Lockyer - one of the club's greatest captains - urged the likes of Anthony Milford, Matt Lodge and Matt Gillett to provide more support for skipper Darius Boyd this season.
Bookmakers have installed the Broncos as a serious contender for the title this season as Brisbane prepare to unleash some of the code's most exciting forwards headlined by Haas, David Fifita and Jaydn Su'A.
But the departure of senior duo Sam Thaiday (retirement) and Josh McGuire (Cowboys) has left a major void in Brisbane's leadership core, prompting Lockyer to issue a call to arms.
The $20,000 fine and four-game suspension dished out to 19-year-old Haas on Wednesday for failing to comply with the NRL integrity unit underlines the steep learning curve several Broncos rookies face this season.
The Broncos are mired in the longest premiership drought in their history, chasing their first crown since 2006, and Lockyer says the collective growth of Brisbane's youthful squad is critical to success.
"Leadership is the key for the Broncos this season," said 355-game icon Lockyer, who captained the Broncos to their most recent premiership 13 years ago.
"With McGuire going to the Cowboys, it's important a few guys take the next step in their careers.
"Matt Lodge will have to play an important role and Matt Gillett is back from injury and they really need his leadership.
"Darius and Andrew McCullough give the side some experience, so there is seniority in the backs and forwards, but it's time for a guy like Anthony Milford to start stamping his authority as a leader.
"Milford is the best example. When he is on, he is on, but sometimes he has a poor game.
"Good leaders lead by example and if the Broncos do that, they will improve on the field.
"The key is for these guys to take the next step and drive a consistency that wins premierships."
While Brisbane are stocked with raw talent, their 2019 squad is highly experienced, with a staggering 12 top-liners still under the age of 25, including first-choice halves Milford and Kodi Nikorima.
The off-season retirement of 304-game warhorse Thaiday now leaves skipper Boyd as the sole survivor of Brisbane's 2006 premiership team.
Legendary Brisbane centre Steve Renouf agreed with Lockyer, saying the Broncos need more senior men to challenge big guns Melbourne and the Roosters.
"They need to start developing some leaders," Renouf said.
"I'm sure Anthony Seibold will be looking at that.
"Because they are such a young team, they need to work on their leadership.
"In our premiership years, we had great leaders likes Shane Webcke, Petero Civoniceva, Allan Langer and Kevin Walters, who had a very strong presence among the group.
"I'd love to see more leadership from Milford this year - I want to see him grab the side by the scruff of the neck and say this is my team."