Revealed: Review findings expose Broncos failings
New Brisbane coach Kevin Walters will overhaul the club's high-performance program after an independent review spotlighted training methods that turned the Broncos into injury-prone crocks.
News Corp can reveal a forensic review, conducted by sports-consultancy expert Eugenie Buckley, explored several facets of Brisbane's football arm, including why the Broncos suffered an alarming spate of injuries.
The Broncos crashed to the worst season in their 32-year history in 2020, finishing with their first wooden spoon after enduring the most painful injury crisis since Brisbane's foundation in 1988.
Kayo is your ticket to the best sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Incredibly, 14 top-line Broncos - almost half of Brisbane's full-time squad - encountered injury this season, including David Fifita, Matt Lodge, Anthony Milford, Kotoni Staggs, Jake Turpin and Jack Bird.
Almost 30 Broncos employees were interviewed over two weeks. Interestingly, current assistant Allan Langer - the greatest player in the club's history - was not interviewed, although incoming coach Walters, his scrumbase partner during Brisbane's glory years of the 1990s, was quizzed.
The Broncos board has been provided a detailed report containing a number of key recommendations, including an analysis of the NRL program driven by former coach Anthony Seibold and high-performance chief Paul Devlin.
Seibold fell on his sword in August with a woeful 35 per cent win record, while the Broncos confirmed on Friday they had severed ties with Devlin.
Such was the Broncos' horrific injury toll, just one player in their entire squad, now retired veteran Darius Boyd, managed to play all 20 games this season.
There is a view the Broncos trained too hard this year, with several Brisbane players having raised concerns with Seibold over the speed and intensity of sessions, leading to the mid-season modification of Brisbane's captain's run.
Walters will digest the contents of the external report, with Broncos board member Darren Lockyer saying Brisbane's shocking injury toll must be addressed for the club to hit back as a finals force next season.
"Injury prevention has to be looked at," Lockyer said.
"We had too much talent sidelined and too much of our salary cap not available, so there is the fitness aspect and also the recovery and rehabilitation aspect.
"There was a look at the high-performance program. The people involved in the review have come from a high-performance background. It might not necessarily be in rugby league, but sport is sport and it was about looking at our structures and the performance of all the pillars in the club.
"One of the key pillars to high-performance is communication and standards.
"Preparation is the key to winning but you also want your best players on the field.
"We need to minimise injuries."
Brisbane's injury rate was crippling. Fifita underwent two operations (knee and ankle), Bird snapped his ACL before round one, Turpin suffered a fractured leg, Milford strained his hamstring twice and rookie Tesi Niu had wrist surgery.
Lodge had two knee injuries, including a partial ACL tear in pre-season, while Staggs required a knee reconstruction after rupturing his ACL in Brisbane's final game of the season against the Cowboys.
Boom prop Tom Flegler underwent a shoulder reconstruction, while skipper Alex Glenn managed just eight games due to hamstring and knee problems.
It can be revealed a number of Broncos players felt pressured to play with injuries despite voicing concerns over their ability to take the field.
Lockyer, the most-capped player in Broncos history with 355 games, said the report was a valuable insight into Brisbane's embattled football department.
"It was a thorough report with some recommendations," he said.
"It's a good document in terms of having a reference point. Moving forward it will be good for everyone in the organisation from the coaching staff to the executive staff.
"There are lots of different areas in that strength-and-conditioning space. The review was about pulling that all apart and putting it back together ... looking at maximising the athletes' ability from a fitness perspective and how we manage injuries if players are on the sidelines."
Walters is on the lookout for a new high-performance boss.
Queensland Origin strength-and-conditioning chief Alex Corvo has been linked with the club, while highly-rated Broncos staffer Andrew Croll, part of North Queensland's sports-science unit when they won the 2015 premiership, is another option.
Walters vowed to put his own stamp on the Broncos with the backing of Brisbane's executives, including chairman Karl Morris and departing CEO Paul White.
"I thought they were fit enough but there are a few things that need to change in the football department," he said.
"Paul and the board have been very supportive of myself and where we want to go as a club.
"I respect what has happened in the review, but Paul has been receptive of the changes I want to make.
"It's very clear there needs to be some change and those changes will be on-going. It takes time in some cases to make the changes you want.
"I have my ideas on how to get the Broncos back to where they should be, which is winning premierships."
Originally published as Revealed: Review findings expose Broncos failings