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HomeSports NewsBrisbane old boys criticism as hard to hear as any Kevin Walters...

Brisbane old boys criticism as hard to hear as any Kevin Walters spray, writes Paul Gallen


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If Broncos players are upset about copping a spray from Kevin Walters it shows you how far the club has fallen in the last month.

They were flying high after round 19. They’d just hammered the Eels, 36-14 at CommBank Stadium, and they were sharing third spot on the ladder with the Sharks, two points clear of Melbourne, Souths and Parramatta in fifth, sixth and seventh.

Since then, they’ve capitulated. There’s no nice way to put it.

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Now, I’m from a different generation to the current players, even though I’ve only been retired three years.

But I was the sort of player that coaches could have that hard conversation with. Shane Flanagan and Ricky Stuart could both give a fair spray. The coach is the coach for a reason, he’s in control of the group.

To then go and complain about the coach blowing up, well, I just can’t even fathom that to be honest.

What were the players expecting, after playing the way they did? They’ve conceded 113 points in two weeks, the coach has every right to give you a spray. Far out. When you’ve conceded 60 points and 53 points in consecutive weeks, you can’t be sitting there thinking you’re going OK.

I think they’re gone, they’ll miss the eight. Mathematically, they’re still a chance, but I don’t see them beating the Dragons this week, and even if they did they’d still need Canberra to lose to the Tigers, which is unlikely.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking the Broncos up, saying how good they’d done this year, but they’ve hit the wall. And they’ve got no-one to blame but themselves.

To concede 113 points in two weeks at this stage of the season, when you’re fighting for a finals spot, that’s just not good enough. Only those inside the club will know the full story, but from the outside I’d say everyone in the organisation needs to take a good, hard look at themselves, there’s obviously something not right there.

As to where this has come from, if I was captain I’d get the whole club involved. Everyone has to be upfront about what’s happened. You’ve got to get everyone in the same room and sort out whatever issues exist.

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It might be one or two players taking exception to being singled out, it might be that Kevvie phrased something the wrong way, without being in the room it’s hard to know.

But if there’s discontent you’ve got to stamp it out ASAP. Get everyone together and get to the bottom of it. If it festers, that’s when you’ve got massive problems.

It’s interesting to see where the events of the last month leaves Kevvie. I’m not suggesting he’s going to be punted, but certainly the whole feeling around the club will be significantly different to how it was back in July.

At the start of last week we had the news that Selwyn Cobbo had asked for a rest. That shocked me. Absolutely shocked me.

He’s the future of that club. He’s an out-and-out superstar of the game. A freak of nature. But come on, you’re 19-years-old and you’re tired? Please. 19-years-old. The season was on the line.

It’s another situation where we don’t yet know the full story, what could be going on in the background. There could be some issue away from the game that’s behind it, which is none of our business.

But at 19-years-old, barely a year after your debut, to say you need a rest when your team needs to win to make the finals, something’s not right.

I was thinking over the weekend about how to summarise Brisbane’s season, and it’s a really tricky question. At the start of the year I gave them no chance of making the eight, if you’d said in March they’d go into the final round with an outside chance of making the eight, you’d have said that’s a decent year.

But as a professional athlete, and as a team, your expectations need to evolve through the season.

When you’re in a top-four spot after round 19, to miss the eight is a failure. There’s no doubt about that, and I think the club would agree. It’s a very big hole that they’ve fallen into. It’s a staggering fall from grace.

Some people will say they had a weak draw, but I don’t buy into that. It’s totally out of Brisbane’s control, if you happen to play some of the bottom clubs twice, that’s just the way the competition works.

There’s no doubt they were getting their tyres pumped up when they were in the top four, and it’s one of the things you need to cope with as a professional player these days. You’ve got such a high profile, especially being a one-team town. When you’re going well, everyone is patting you on the back.

In saying that, Brisbane has always had that, and they’ve had good leaders in the past who have kept everyone’s heads in order. I don’t know who’s doing that at the club at the moment, and it’s one area where they may have let themselves down.

Maybe they’ve been reading their press too much, thinking they were ahead of where they really were. That can be a hard thing these days, especially for the younger players. Social media is so prevalent, some players will tell you they don’t read it, but really they do. It’s a big issue for our game, the number of people who have access to our players via social media, I don’t think it’s healthy for anyone.

If they were reading their own press five or six weeks ago, they’ve been brought crashing back to earth by what’s happened since then.

Now they’re in a situation where they need other results to go their way to make the eight, and that’s a terrible position to be in. It’s out of their control, they have to win, but then rely on Canberra losing. Really, Brisbane has no one to blame other than themselves for the situation they’re in.

Their defence has been horrendous. Even if they were to make the semi finals they’d only be making up the numbers, but at least they could take something out of the season. If they lose again this week, there’s going to be some soul searching going on in the first couple of weeks of the pre-season.

This will be the third year in a row they’ve missed the semis, which is just not good enough for Brisbane. It’s easy for me to say that from the outside, but I reckon those on the inside would be more filthy than anyone.

Regardless of what the media and ex-players have to say, a proud club like that, with so much history, would be hurting so much right now.

The Brisbane old boys are pretty vocal, but they’re the ones who made the club great, the current players have to remember that. I know as a player it’s hard to hear criticism from your club’s former greats, but you’ve got to remember nobody has a mortgage on a jersey.

That group set incredibly high standards and never accepted mediocrity, that’s something this current playing group needs to remember.

The jersey was made great by those who went before you, and you’ve got to uphold the standards set by those who wore that number in the past. Some of the game’s very best have worn that Brisbane jumper, and they’ve got every right to have an opinion about the current crop.

And that can be just as hard to hear as any spray that Kevvie might give them.

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