NRL: Why Kevvie’s appointment as Broncos coach is starting to pay off

@Hayward_AdamK

When Kevin Walters was appointed head coach of his beloved Brisbane Broncos, he was taking on the most difficult job in all of rugby league – attempting to rebuild the NRL’s flagship club.

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The Broncos finished the 2020 season with the dreaded wooden spoon – recording just three wins, 17 losses and churned out the worst season in just about every statistic in the clubs history.

And it was not just on-field performances that turned the club into a basket case, it was also a series of off-field controversies and unbelievably poor management that added to their horrific down fall.

There was slight progress made in 2021, winning seven games and lifting themselves off the bottom of the ladder – but to be fair, the bar could not have been set any lower.

But every club will go through a rough period at some point.

It was always going to be a long, arduous process and it was vital that the Broncos board and the club’s supporters, give Walters enough time, show patience and have faith that he could turn this proud club into a powerhouse once again.

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He expressed many concerns prior to his appointment, including a disconnect between the club and their members, sponsors, corporate partners and the entire Brisbane community.

He has looked to overhaul a badly mismanaged roster which was top heavy with forwards, youth and inexperience, as well as players who were not living up to their lofty salaries.

And with the help of new Head of Football Ben Ikin, they have balanced out the squad nicely in a relatively short amount of time.

The club has recruited an experienced, game managing halfback in Adam Reynolds, a premiership winning and representative back rower Kurt Capewell and experienced forward leader Ryan James.

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They have extended the services of star players Payne Haas, Patrick Carrigan and Kotoni Staggs.

And Walters has had to fast-track the development of some of the brightest young talent in the competition, including Selwyn Cobbo, Cory Paix, Tesi Nui, Jordan Riki, Kobi Hetherington and TC Robati.

In recent years, the culture within the team had slowly become rotten to the core, but Walters has always been praised, particularly during his tenure as Queensland Origin coach, for his man management skills, building strong relationships with his players and his ability to create a team culture of hard work.

The change in culture within the group has started to show and players are buying in to what Walters is trying to build.

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After 10 rounds of the 2022 season, the Broncos find themselves in the top eight after a very impressive four-game winning streak. They are on path for their first finals appearance since 2019.

Even the top four is within the realm of possibility, especially if new club captain Adam Reynolds stays fit and maintains his career-best form.

Perhaps the main factor to help explain the Broncos resurgence is their commitment in defence, which Walters has ingrained into his players as the key to success.

It all starts with attitude, resilience, toughness, dedication and hard work at training, which is being transferred onto the field with their performances.

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Walters has the players backing themselves and their ability. You can see them enjoying their footy again. They are playing for each other, their supporters and perhaps most importantly, they are playing for their coach.

All the criticisms over the past 18-months have fallen on deaf ears, and the anti-Kevvie naysayers have been rather silent in recent weeks.

But Walters himself will be the first to tell you, there is still a long way to go this season and from where the club is right now, anything short of a finals appearance must be considered a failure.

There is still plenty of hard work to be done for the Broncos if they are to achieve long term, sustained success, but it is time to acknowledge that Walters is proving to be the right man for the job.