Ben Te'o and Issac Luke.
Ben Te'o and Issac Luke.

Once mighty Broncos now NRL’s retirement home

THE Brisbane Broncos are lacking direction, vision and confidence in how they will snap the longest premiership drought in the club's illustrious 32-year history.

The Broncos on Tuesday welcomed former New Zealand Test star Issac Luke to their stable on a minimum wage contract for the remainder of the 2020 season.

Luke, 33, joins Brisbane a week after Ben Te'o, also 33, returned to the Broncos for the following few months to bolster the club's inexperienced forward ranks.

In the space of a fortnight the Broncos have transformed from a rugby league pre-school to the Red Hill retirement home.

The decision to sign Te'o and Luke is desperate and will do nothing but stick a Band-Aid over a widening wound.

While they may boast more than 400 NRL appearances between them, Te'o and Luke are closer to retirement than they are to ever hoisting a premiership trophy again.

Te'o's 17-minute cameo against Manly last week was his first taste of rugby league in nearly six years.

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Ben Te'o was signed to bolster Brisbane’s inexperienced forward ranks. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Ben Te'o was signed to bolster Brisbane’s inexperienced forward ranks. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

After being released by Super Rugby's Japan Sunwolves, Te'o has had no pre-season with the Broncos and there is no reserve grade to get him up to speed with the fast-paced NRL.

Despite his pedigree and qualities, Te'o has been set up to struggle in his return to the NRL and it will be a monumental achievement if he can have any sort of genuine on-field impact at the Broncos.

Luke joined the Broncos after failing to get a start in one of the NRL's worst teams and a club in crisis - St George Illawarra.

The 274-game NRL veteran has been signed to bolster the Broncos' hooker ranks after the club last month released stalwart Andrew McCullough.

McCullough, a 260-game Broncos representative, has burst back to life at Newcastle in his two appearances for the Knights and will confront his former club on Thursday night at Central Coast Stadium.

There is a chance McCullough could return to the Broncos next year, given he is contracted to the club for 2021, meaning the decision to release him this season only guaranteed to free up enough salary cap space for Brisbane to sign Te'o and Luke.

Issac Luke has joined the Broncos after they let go Andrew McCullough. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Issac Luke has joined the Broncos after they let go Andrew McCullough. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Shortly after the Broncos announced the signing of Luke on Tuesday I asked Broncos coach Anthony Seibold to explain to confused fans how this situation arose and if he regretted releasing McCullough.

"I can understand that observation," Seibold said.

"With regards to Macca's situation a lot of that was driven by Macca. Macca wanted an opportunity to go and start in the number nine somewhere. Obviously at our club he was behind Jake Turpin.

"When Turps hurt himself (broken leg) a week later you have some regrets. Ultimately it was the right thing for Macca and for our club at the time. Some decisions you get right and some you get wrong.

"You make decisions that you think are best for the player, person and club at the time and that was the best decision at the time."

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold is feeling the heat. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold is feeling the heat. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

In his second season at the Broncos, Seibold is under immense pressure in his quest to clinch the club's first NRL premiership since 2006.

The youth policy he has opted for has the potential to deliver long-term results for Brisbane, but this is a club that sees itself as a top four contender every year. He may have a five-year contract but time isn't on Seibold's side.

The once mighty Broncos should not be in a rebuilding phase and their fans won't accept two seasons of mediocre results under Seibold, not to mention record thrashings of 59-0 from the Roosters and 58-0 by Parramatta.

Despite their age and inexperience, Seibold has enough talented players to be competitive most weeks, but that is unlikely to be enough to deliver the Broncos their seventh title this year.

If Seibold and the Broncos' vision was to plan long-term for a Red Hill dynasty then they have gone well off course with the signings of Te'o and Luke.



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