Jack Bird is fit again and relishing the prospect of finally getting to show his wares at the Broncos. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Jack Bird is fit again and relishing the prospect of finally getting to show his wares at the Broncos. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Parker: Queensland teams to lift or get left behind

You can't sugar-coat a bitter pill - season 2019 was a tough year for the Queensland teams with one team - the Broncos - making the eight, two missing out and one of them collecting the dreaded wooden spoon.

All three Queensland sides have gone to the market to fix the holes in their rosters but how will they fare in 2020?

If you had to sum up the Broncos' 2019 season in one word it would be inconsistent.

The Broncos showed at stages last season they were capable of mixing it with the best teams in the competition but their inability to maintain that level for 80 minutes was what hurt them most.

They managed to beat the eventual premiers, the Roosters, in Round 10, but were then dusted by the eventual wooden spooners, the Gold Coast ­Titans, in Round 13.

If the Broncos want to be premiership contenders in 2020 they need to close the gap ­between their best and worst performances.

That's something coach Anthony Seibold has addressed in the off-season.

The pressure is on Brodie Croft to produce the goods for the Broncos. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
The pressure is on Brodie Croft to produce the goods for the Broncos. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

It's easy to point the finger at new recruit Brodie Croft and say he's the key man for the Broncos this season, but the player I'm most looking forward to watching is Jack Bird.

Everyone knows what Bird is capable of but due to injury he hasn't been able to deliver during his time at the Broncos.

Bird has had an outstanding off-season and been rewarded with the Broncos' fullback spot for Round 1.

If he can fire, he can be the player who leads the Broncos deep into September.

There's no denying the Broncos have the best group of young talent in the competition, but it's time for that young talent to start delivering on their potential.

The Broncos pack is frightening. I don't think I've seen a player who can do what young prop Payne Haas can do on the paddock.

He's a big body with a big motor and he has an unquenchable thirst for work.

And you combine that with two human wrecking balls in David Fifita and Tevita Pangai Jr and two tireless workhorses in Joe Ofahengaue and Pat ­Carrigan and the Broncos have a pack capable of finishing in the top four.

It was an underwhelming 2019 season for North Queensland, who lacked the spark and attacking creativity to challenge the top teams.

But with the addition of Valentine Holmes and Esan Marsters, the Cowboys have the strike power they need to return to the finals in 2020.

The Cowboys really struggled to find points in 2019 - they got themselves into the right parts on the field, but failed to capitalise.

The addition of Holmes is a huge coup. If he can ignite the Cowboys from the back they have the ability to put it to the top teams.

The North Queensland Cowboys’ star recruit, Valentine Holmes, is tipped by many to light up the NRL this season. Picture: Alix Sweeney
The North Queensland Cowboys’ star recruit, Valentine Holmes, is tipped by many to light up the NRL this season. Picture: Alix Sweeney

While the Cowboys' backs struggled to fire last season, their forward pack still held their own.

In Josh McGuire, Jordan McLean and Jason Taumalolo, the Cowboys have a pack that can tear other teams to shreds.

I'm also keen to see how Cohen Hess goes this season. He's dropped six to seven kilos and is looking in great shape.

I also really like the look of the Cowboys' hooker rotation.

The addition of Reece Robson to the squad should free up Jack Granville to go back to his natural running game.

When the Cowboys were at their best in 2015 and 2016 it all came off the back of Granville getting out of dummy-half and putting the Cowboys on the front foot in attack.

In 2019, Granville was forced to play longer minutes, which blunted his attacking brilliance.

With Robson there this season coach Paul Green has the ability to rotate his two No.9s to make sure they're both fresh throughout the game.

After finishing 2019 with the wooden spoon, the only way is up for the Titans in 2020.

The arrival of Justin Holbrook on the Gold Coast should give Titans fans reason for hope.

Coach Justin Holbrook looks on during a Titans training session on the Gold Coast. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Coach Justin Holbrook looks on during a Titans training session on the Gold Coast. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

The Titans have plenty of quality players across the park but for me it's their pack that looks their strongest weapon with plenty of representative power in Jai Arrow, Jarrod Wallace, Kevin Proctor and Shannon Boyd.

For the Titans to be successful in 2020 they need them to lay a platform for their creative players to roll off.

The Titans have plenty of individual brilliance with players such as Tyrone Peachey, Alex Brimson and Bryce Cartwright having ability to win games off their own backs, but it's imperative for the Titans' chances this year that they play as a team.

Too often last year the Titans were too quick to go for the big play before setting the platform first.

If they can find a way to stay in the contest for 80 minutes, they will worry teams at the back end of games.

I think everyone in rugby league is keen to see Ash Taylor back on the paddock in 2020. Watching him in the Nines with a smile on his face was brilliant to see.

Taylor is one the most talented individuals in our code and has the ability to steer the Titans to victory this season.


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