Walters reveals: Broncos’ greatest rivalries and why JT is GOAT
The Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys lay claim to arguably the greatest rivalry in the NRL era.
From 2015-18, the Broncos and Cowboys produced some of the most gripping clashes in the game's history.
Golden point became the norm as the fierce Queensland rivals consistently delivered high-quality clashes.
The 2015 NRL grand final is regarded as one of the greatest deciders in premiership history, a nailbiting match which needed extra-time for the Cowboys to snatch the most unlikely of victories.
But it's not the only rivalry the Broncos have generated throughout their 33-year history.
- Round 1, 1995 at Mt Smart Stadium
- Brisbane Broncos 25 (Allan Langer 2, Willie Carne, Chris Johns tries; Julian O'Neill 3, Langer 1 goals; Langer 1 field goal)
- New Zealand Warriors 22 (Phil Blake, Sean Hoppe, Tea Ropati, Tony Tatupu tries; Gene Ngamu 3 goals)
The Broncos were picked as the opponent for the New Zealand Warriors' first ever game in the ARL and Brisbane proved to be the ultimate party poopers.
The Warriors bounced out to a handy halftime lead before Broncos magician Allan Langer orchestrated a remarkable comeback to spoil New Zealand's debut.
It was one of the great ambushes as a the Broncos scored 15 unanswered points to win the game and a killer blow to a new team trying to make a statement in first grade.
"I vividly remember that first game against the Warriors," said Broncos five-eighth Kevin Walters.
"Just before kick-off, we went walking down this big tunnel and had to pass all these Maori warriors who scared the life out of us.
"There was fire going off and I looked at 'Alfie' (Langer) and thought what on earth are they going to do to us?
"We actually trailed 16-10 at halftime. The Warriors forwards were huge and they were really ripping in, but then little Alf took the game by storm as he always did.
"He ended up scoring two tries to get us home - that game summed up the champion that Alfie was."
- Preliminary final, 2006 at Sydney Football Stadium
- Brisbane Broncos 37 (Shaun Berrigan 2, Darius Boyd, Dane Carlaw, Darren Lockyer, Corey Parker, Brent Tate tries; Parker 6, Lockyer 1 goals)
- Canterbury Bulldogs 20 (Daniel Holdsworth, Brent Sherwin, Matt Utai tries; Hazem El Masri 4 goals)
Corey Parker played 347 games for the Broncos and few rank better than this.
The Broncos were on their way to the 2006 premiership when they confronted Canterbury in the preliminary finals.
The Bulldogs had been a powerhouse club over the past few years but had little to stop a remarkable Broncos comeback.
Down 20-6, the Broncos were inspired by a vintage speech from coach Wayne Bennett to win the game and book a spot against Melbourne in the grand final.
"It's one of the greatest games I've been involved in," Parker said.
"The Dogs blew us off the park in the first half and I remember as we walked up the SFS tunnel for halftime, Willie Mason (Bulldogs forward) was heckling us, screaming just 40 more minutes boys and we are in the grand final.
"In the sheds, Wayne was great. He said 'guys, you can either produce more crap and get totally flogged, or you can stand for something and have a dig'.
"We were always going to choose the latter and we produced this epic comeback.
"The try that Shaun Berrigan scored, planting it down almost upside down, was just freakish and we charged into the grand final."
The following game would prove to be Brisbane's sixth and most recent premiership.
- 2015 Grand Final, ANZ Stadium
- North Queensland Cowboys 17 (Kyle Feldt, Justin O'Neill, James Tamou tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 goals; Thurston field goal)
- Brisbane Broncos 16 (Corey Oates, Jack Reed tries; Jordan Kahu 2, Corey Parker 2 goals)
Grand finals don't come much better than this.
The Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys had built up a quality rivalry in recent seasons as the teams became genuine NRL premiership contenders.
They met in week one of the finals with the Broncos recording a gripping victory at Suncorp Stadium.
The historic first ever all-Queensland grand final took place in Sydney and delivered a grand final for the ages.
The Broncos were leading until the final siren, when Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt scored following a brilliant play from Michael Morgan.
Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston missed the sideline conversion to win the game, but made no mistake in extra-time with a famous field goal to clinch North Queensland its first NRL title.
Six years on, the Broncos are still searching for redemption and the scars have not healed.
"I get goose bumps thinking about it," said former Broncos forward Corey Parker.
"It was a hard one to take and there were many sleepless nights after it thinking 'what if, what could I have done better?'
"Both teams were playing a brand of football everyone loves. We had golden point thrillers going into that grand final. We knew something special was going to happen that night.
"We had a game plan that was good enough to beat them. We were in the box seat, in front and had control of the game. But we were just losing grip.
"I tackled Thurston low and slid off. If I had my time again I would have taken his head off.
"There was a miracle pass from Morgan to Feldt in the corner. Everyone wanted 'JT' to win a grand final. We were trying to send Hodgo (retiring Broncos captain Justin Hodges) out with a victory.
"It was an awful drop-kick from JT but it went over. What a game. I was devastated, but it was a great advertisement for the game."
- Round 4, 2016, Suncorp Stadium
- Brisbane Broncos 21 (Anthony Milford, James Roberts tries; Corey Parker 6 goals, Milford field goal)
- North Queensland Cowboys 20 (Jake Granville, Ethan Lowe, Michael Morgan tries; Johnathan Thurston 4 goals)
It was the first meeting between the Broncos and Cowboys since the epic 2015 NRL grand final.
The Cowboys were looking to consolidate their spot as Queensland's premier team and the reigning champions.
The Broncos were searching for redemption and found it after a gripping contest that took the Queensland derby to another level.
Anthony Milford had claims to being the best player on the field in Brisbane's 2015 grand final loss and there were suggestions he should have pipped Johnathan Thurston for the Clive Churchill Medal that night.
In the return bout at Suncorp Stadium the Broncos five-eighth got some revenge with a remarkable 40m extra-time field goal to win the game for Brisbane.
"It was a night for true believers and they were true believers tonight," Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said at the time.
"They didn't let what happened last year interfere with the process and that's why they got the result.
"The rivalry and respect these teams have for each other … after 160 minutes they were barely separated and that says a lot about the quality of the players and the teams.
"There's no doubt if we won the grand final Milford would have got the Clive Churchill Medal. He's a wonderful talent and we enjoy watching him play."
This was truly one of the great NRL games.
- Round 2, 2017, Suncorp Stadium
- North Queensland Cowboys 21 (Jake Granville, Coen Hess, Michael Morgan tries; Johnathan Thurston 4 goals; Thurston field goal)
- Brisbane Broncos 20 (Darius Boyd, Jordan Kahu, James Roberts tries; Anthony Milford 4 goals)
That's what the Broncos were left thinking after Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston conjured another golden point field goal to sink Brisbane.
Just like he did in the 2015 decider, Thurston was the ice-man that delivered North Queensland victory in another pulsating derby at Suncorp Stadium.
It was the fourth out of the past five Broncos-Cowboys clashes to go into extra-time, solidifying the derby as the NRL's best rivalry at the time.
While there were many outstanding players during that area, Kevin Walters says Thurston was the key figure during the epic derbies of 2015-18.
"He has broken Brisbane's hearts on making occasions and this was another one of those nights in front of a big crowd at Suncorp," Walters said.
"When the big moments were there, Thurston was always the one with the ball in his hands orchestrating a line break, a try-assist, a kick, field goal or penalty.
"John was the man through that period. He had some great guys around him to help him like Michael Morgan and Matt Scott but he was the one."
Cowboys hulk Jason Taumalolo was instrumental this night, producing multiple charge downs to give Thurston a crack at victory.
Originally published as Walters reveals: Broncos' greatest rivalries and why JT is GOAT