Broncos coach Kevin Walters has been around the game long enough to know that no amount of attacking flair will deliver the club a long awaited seventh title if there is defence isn’t in order.
With Adam Reynolds calling the shots, Payne Haas making metres and Kotoni Staggs making magic, the Broncos can pile on points with the best of them, but premierships are built on the ability to stop points, and that’s why last week’s loss to Wests Tigers had alarm bells ringing at Red Hill.
Not only did the top-four hopefuls suffer a shock defeat to the team running last at the time, they gave up 32 points in the process, leading to plenty of soul searching in the lead-up to tonight’s clash with the Roosters.
“Our defense wasn’t up to scratch [against the Tigers] and we’ve put some good energy into that space and that’ll hold us in good stead,” Walters said.
“We had a bit of a hiccup last week but if we can get our defense right then our attack will flow off the back of that.
“We have some guys that can really hurt one-on-one defensively so we have to make sure we get that right and come together as a group in that manner.
“Plenty of things to work on for us and no better opposition to do it against than the Roosters who have been a good club for a long time.”
Roosters v Broncos: Round 21
Included in the Roosters’ distinguished list of achievements in the past decade are three premierships, all built on a defensive work ethic every coach craves from his men.
Back in 2013 in Trent Robinson’s first year at the helm, the Roosters conceded just 13 points per game during the regular season before keeping Manly scoreless in an epic qualifying final and going on to defeat the Sea Eagles in the decider.
In their back-to-back glory years of 2018-19, the Roosters gave up just 15 points per game during the home-and-away rounds, before the Storm raised the bar in 2020 by their keeping opponents to just 13.8ppg.
The loss of prop Pat Carrigan, who averages 32 tackles per game in 2022, is a blow to the Broncos’ plans to shut down the potent Roosters attack, but Walters is confident Kobe Hetherington can step up.
The hard-working Hetherington has played 18 of 19 games this season, averaging 23 tackles per match at 93 per cent efficiency.
“Kobe did a great job for us earlier in the year when Pat was injured and he’ll come in and do a job again,” Walters said.
“We have to take it [Pat’s suspension] on the chin and move on.
Delve into the water and pick yourself up a Mariner
Payne [Haas]Fleg [Thomas Flegler] and Kobe will be our starting middles for us against the Roosters and I’m sure they’ll do a good job for us.
“We’ve just got to go out and be the footy team we can be as individuals and then collectively as a group.”
Helping to ease the blow of Carrigan’s four-game ban for a hip drop tackle is the return of fellow Maroon Selwyn Cobbo from the concussion he suffered in Origin Three.
Cobbo hasn’t played for the Broncos since Round 16 against the Cowboys but his coach is in no doubt the gifted 20-year-old will be ready to go at the SCG.
“Selwyn trained well [on Wednesday] and he’ll be ready for whatever they throw at him,” Walters said.
“It’s great to have him back, he hasn’t played for us for quite some time, but he’s ready. He’s a footballer, Selwyn.”