This week for ‘Your Edge’ we take a look at the importance of Payne Haas at the Broncos, yet another change to their halves, Tom Trbojevic’s start to 2021, and find the best value plays of the weekend.
Payne Haas Keeping The Broncos In It
The Brisbane Broncos have won only one game this season and three of their last four defeats have come by a combined 103 points. However, they’ve managed to put together a few decent starts despite the big gap between the two sides by the final whistle. The downturn tends to come once Payne Haas leaves the field.
Haas is at his best already this season averaging 179 metres per game since returning to the side in Round 4. He leads the Broncos forward pack in yardage, and without him, the wheels fall off.
If we look at when he leaves the field following his first shift and the final result, we see just how much his departure from the field hurts.
While the Melbourne Storm did lead 24-6 by the time Haas left the field for the first time in the 54th minute in Round 4, the Broncos did keep them scoreless until the 25th minute.
In Round 5 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs Haas took a seat with his side down 10-6. The Broncos eventually lost 35-6.
A week later against the Penrith Panthers the Broncos put in their best performance in over 12 months. Haas’ first shift lasted 48 minutes and he left the field with his side 12-10 in front. The Broncos would eventually lose 20-12.
And in Round 7 against the Parramatta Eels, Haas took a seat with the Broncos 10-6 behind. They had hung with the Eels for the first 30 minutes and clawed their way into the game. Haas and the Broncos ended that one on the end of a 46-6 thrashing.
The Broncos are starting games well enough to be competitive. However, they lose their juice once Haas and his carries leave for a spell on the sideline. Kevin Walters wants to play him fewer minutes, but he might not have a choice. He’s one of the most productive players in the NRL and Brisbane’s only chance at victory seems to be with Haas on the field.
Tom Trbojevic #1?
James Tedesco has been considered the best fullback in the NRL for a few years now. Even while playing out what most would call a “quiet year,” Tedesco has still scored seven tries in as many games while also handing out two try assists and running for 161 metres per game. Earlier in the year, Ryan Papenhuyzen’s name came up as the possible number one fullback in the competition.
However, after just two weeks and joining a Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles side that completed its worst opening month of football in the club’s history, Tom Trbojevic has shot up the list. With two tries, four try assists and 199 running metres per game, Trbojevic has turned the Sea Eagles around. All of a sudden, they’re a chance at the Top 8.
The Sea Eagles have cleaned up the Gold Coast Titans (36-0) and Wests Tigers (40-6) since Trbojevic returned. This week they travel to Bathurst to play the table-topping Penrith Panthers. If Trbojevic can orchestrate another win on Saturday afternoon, we will need to have a serious conversation about who, in fact, is the best fullback in the NRL.
Another Reshuffle In Brisbane
More Broncos chat for this week, but it needs to be mentioned.
They’re changing their halves combination AGAIN in the hopes of sparking something. It’s the 17th time the halves have changed since 2017 and the third time already this season. But that’s it. Hope. The number of changes Kevin Walters has made in the halves in just eight rounds screams of a coach that has run out of ideas and is throwing darts at a team sheet on Tuesday.
|Round||Five-eighth (#6)||Halfback (#7)|
|Round 1||Anthony Milford||Brodie Croft|
|Round 2||Anthony Milford||Brodie Croft|
|Round 3||Anthony Milford||Brodie Croft|
|Round 4||Anthony Milford||Tom Dearden|
|Round 5||Anthony Milford||Tom Dearden|
|Round 6||Brodie Croft||Tom Dearden|
|Round 7||Brodie Croft||Tom Dearden|
|Round 8||Anthony Milford||Tyson Gamble|
Anthony Milford is back in the side after a fortnight in reserve grade. Meanwhile, Tyson Gamble will play the fourth NRL match of his career after earning a call-up from the Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup.
The issues in Brisbane’s defence could be the reason for Gamble’s inclusion. Croft offered little resistance as the Eels sent traffic down his side of the field last week. A big unit at 189cm and 96kg, Gamble’s strength this week could be in his defence. Regardless, Brisbane is back to square-one in the spine as Walters continues to search for, and hope, that the right combination shows itself soon.
James Fisher-Harris didn’t get the job done first-up last week but it wasn’t through a lack of trying. He had his hands all over the ball early. The big Kiwi is in the model’s conversation again but Jarrod Wallace is the name that sticks out. Against his former club, a side proving to be awful in defence on their goal line, he’s a good chance at getting over the line in this one.
Brett Morris is a try-scoring machine and should be heavily considered at $1.95 against a Knights side that can leak points. Campbell Graham is another play this week. A turnover in players is leaving the Raiders edge vulnerable and Graham is a powerful centre that can capitalise close to the line.
DFS Value Plays
Ben Condon tops the list and has featured in the Top 10 value plays in each of the last three weeks. Our predictive model projects the Cowboys backrower to score 42 points on Sunday afternoon. Corey Harawira-Naera also rates a mention after scoring 47 points in his first game of the season last week. Our predictive model projects him to back that performance up with another 43 points and presents as a value play at $8,290.