The story of Gympie's Broncos talent scout
"IT USED to be a faster and more open game than it is today," Gympie NRL icon Vince Brennan said yesterday.
And he would know, because he was there, at a high level in the Queensland organisation as well as on the field in Gympie.
The former Bronco's talent scout took on that role after a career playing and coaching Gympie rugby league's emerging stars.
There was a time when a recommendation from Mr Brennan could lead to big things for talented young players.
"It's a tough forward game now and players have to be built up to take the punishment.
"Years ago, the forwards weren't built up as much as they are now and you would see action in the back and wingers scoring.
"I still like the big open game where everyone gets a go.
"That's exciting," he said. "That's faster and more entertaining.
"The backs and wingers - I just don't think they get enough of the ball, to be honest."
Speaking at his Power Rd home yesterday Mr Brennan said he had been Broncos Recruitment Officer for Gympie for 14 years, starting in 1988.
And he spotted some big talent for the regional and interstate game.
"Then they brought in the salary cap and they didn't want the scouting any more. It was just one of those side effects."
He coached the 47 Batallion representative team, which took in players from Gympie's thriving footie culture.
"We won back to back Wide Bay Championships in 1987 and 1988," he said. The Wide Bay Bulls, representing the Wide Bay Burnett region formed another formidable team on Mr Brennan's client list.
"And its players proved their mettle in many successes, including against a viciting British team.
"They punished the Poms 14-0 on June 28, 1988," he remembers, exactly.
"Wayne Bennett came up one night. He was a very young man, 36 I think he was.
"He was a director of the QRL and an Australian rep player (he toured New Zealand in 1971) and he conducted a senior coaching clinic at Albert Park."
Mr Brennan remembers the strength especially of the Brothers and Rainbows teams and their coaches Darryl Fink and Brian King.
"Mark Connell played for Rainbow and he went down for training with the Broncos.
Julian O'Neill was a brilliant footballer who played for the Broncos.
Brett Ploughman was a good junior player and he played in the wings for the Broncos.
"Chris Kahler came from Gympie and went to Canberra.
So who is going to win the Premiership?
Mr Brennan says he may not be much help to footie tippers.
"Any one of six teams could win it year.
"Watch the Broncos, but I think it might be a bit of a challenge for them."
Mr Brennan still says Wally Lewis was the best of them all.
"I saw him at a Wayne Bennet training session. They were supposed to tackle a punching bag and fall to the ground with it, but Wally would run up to it, pick it up and keep running.
"And then the others started doing it too.
"Wayne Bennet used to go crook on Wally," he said.
And one more thing: Mr Brennan says the current fashion of anything up to four players tackling just one with the ball should be stopped.
"There's not enough movement in the game with four-on-one tackling," he said.