Brisbane Broncos captain Darius Boyd has hailed the attacking weapons in his side as “one of a kind players” who can inspire the club to a seventh premiership in 2018.
The premiership-winning Brisbane teams of the 1990s had a cavalcade of stars with skill, speed and strut and Boyd believes the current crop is cut from the same cloth.
“It is hard comparing our players and our team to other teams and opponents, but I’d like to think we have a serious attacking advantage on most teams and we have got some guys that can do things that not many people, if any, in the competition can do,” Boyd told NRL.com.
“If we can get everything else right, I genuinely believe we can win the premiership.”
When Boyd gazes across his squad, backs and forwards, and sees Anthony Milford, James Roberts, Tevita Pangai jnr and company, he knows he is blessed as a leader.
“Some of the things that Milf does, whether it be at training or on the field, no-one else can do,” Boyd said.
“If you are comparing Milford to Cooper Cronk or JT then obviously there is game management, kicking and a whole list of things where they might have the upper hand, but we need to focus on what Milf can do and not what he can’t do.
“It is the same with James Roberts and Corey Oates… and Jack Bird is here and it will be exciting to get him on the field.
“Someone like Tevita Pangai is not just a ruck forward who hits it up and makes tackles. He’s got some flair about him, some footwork and he’s in great physical shape. He can step and offload and he has the attributes to do some crazy things. Last year he did this crazy flick pass to James Roberts against the Titans and it just shows some of the skill our players have. They are one of a kind players.”
Boyd said the Broncos were “quite structured” in the early rounds last year and won two and lost two against the top four from the previous season.
“We’d beaten Canberra 13-12 and then lost to Canterbury 10-7 in round five, but we felt like we weren’t scoring as many tries as we would have liked,” Boyd explained.
“Then we played the Roosters and decided we wanted to just play footy and put 30 points on them at Suncorp, and from that moment on that is how we tried to handle the season with our attack, to play what you see and whatever you are feeling just do it.
“We will adopt a similar approach this year. On the flip side of that our defence needs to be up to scratch with all the little things, whether that be getting in the wrestle or the kick-chase. If we do all those good things on the other side of the ball, then I am sure the attack will take care of itself.”
While not suggesting the Broncos would be entertainers for the sake of it or without purpose, Boyd acknowledged the brand of football played in this year’s Telstra Premiership should be easy on the eye.
“There is a lot of structure and thought process with the way we play, but just the skills of the guys we have in our team will be the expansive side of it,” he said.
“If the other team puts a grubber through and someone picks it up near James Roberts then I’d like to think nine out of 10 times he’s running 100 [metres].
“He did it a couple of times last year and Milf is in the same category when he puts through a grubber, chips over or throws a big long ball to a winger.”
The X factor for the Broncos will be without doubt new regular halfback Kodi Nikorima.
“Kodi has played a lot of hooker over the years off the bench and scored tries from dummy-half and played fullback for me when I’ve been injured, set up tries and scored them,” Boyd said.
“He filled in for Ben Hunt and he’s done well as a Mr Fix It, but now he’s had a whole pre-season at halfback and done a lot of extras and trained really well.
“Without putting pressure on him, I am looking forward to seeing him play.”
Enterprise is one thing. Winning premierships is another. A Broncos fan since he was six, Boyd reflected on the 1990s Broncos as sides that combined both.
“It was exciting to watch those guys, being a fan,” Boyd said.
“There was Steve Renouf, Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri … and Darren Lockyer was playing fullback back then.
“Then there was Alfie and Kevvie, Willie Carne, Michael Hancock, Mick De Vere and a monster pack.
“It was just exciting to watch the Broncos and more often than not they were top four, top two or winning comps. They won more often than not and they won premierships. That is what you put the Broncos brand down to.”