Unshackled: Why Seibold is done tinkering with Milford

 

 

Anthony Seibold's plan to shift underperforming playmaker Anthony Milford to fullback is set to become a permanent move in a bid to reignite the club's embattled million-dollar man.

Milford has been dropped from the halves this week in favour of teenage sensation Tom Dearden, who will wear Brisbane's famous No.7 jersey for Friday's clash with Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium.

The mid-year positional switch is nothing new to Milford, who was thrown into the No.1 jersey from Round 14 last year and remained there for the rest of the season.

 

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Anthony Milford during Broncos training at Red Hill. Picture: Annette Dew
Anthony Milford during Broncos training at Red Hill. Picture: Annette Dew

Seibold said the shake-up this week was an attempt to release the shackles on Milford and hand over the attacking reins to Dearden.

Fox Sports Lab statistics reveal Milford is better suited to the fullback role. He had double the amount of running metres in the 11 games at fullback last year (101 per game) compared with his 10 games in the halves this season (48m).

He also broke more tackles (47 compared with 25), scored more tries (three/one) and created more try assists.

It was hoped an alliance with new recruit Brodie Croft in the halves would spark Milford back to form this season, but an increasingly desperate Seibold has decided instead to shake up his spine.

"Milly (Milford) has got quite a fantastic running game so hopefully we can free him up a bit," Seibold said.

"I thought he did a pretty fair job when we moved him to fullback last year.

"Hopefully we see an injury-free run for those guys (Milford, Dearden, Croft) because I'd like to see them in those positions for an extended run and give them an opportunity to build some cohesion and connection."

Seibold also hit back at suggestions Darius Boyd should have been moved to fullback, arguing the 33-year-old's experience on the edge was beneficial to the club's young wingers.

"Darius' best position at the moment is in the centres to help out our young outside backs, particularly Herbie (Farnsworth) in defence," he said.

The head coach said the backline changes would hopefully take the pressure off Milford and Croft.

"I wanted to get Tom Dearden into the team so that pre-empted that change (Milford to fullback)," he said.

"It was also to help Croft in the halves.

"(Dearden) takes a little bit of that organisation off Crofty and allows Crofty to be freed up a little bit which I think is important.

"Off the back of a really consistent block of training, he deserves to wear the No.7 and bring some organisation and ability on both sides of the footy.

"He has a really smart kicking game.

"I just think it's time for him to get an opportunity."

The club is staring down the barrel of suffering its worst season to date, which has forced Seibold to make wholesale changes to his side.

Strike centre Kotoni Staggs returns from injury this week while Thomas Flegler moves to the front row with Tevita Pangai Jr and Joe Ofahengaue named to play in the back row.

 

Stats horrific: Doomsday double stalking the Broncos

Can't score. Can't tackle. The Broncos are on track to claim the statistical doomsday double that lays bare the wide-ranging depth of their form woes.

Unless things improve in the second half of the season the 2020 Broncos are tracking to average more points conceded and fewest scored per game than any team in Brisbane's history.

Their 29.1 points conceded per game this season is easily the worst in the Broncos history, eclipsing the 24 per game in 2009.

Brisbane's 291 conceded points this season is already more than they let in during the entire 1996 (263) and 1997 (283) regular seasons.

Brisbane’s 13.4 points per game is on track for a record low. Picture: Gregg Porteous
Brisbane’s 13.4 points per game is on track for a record low. Picture: Gregg Porteous

 

But while their defence has been punctured with alarming regularity their attack has been as penetrative as a raindrop on a roof tile.

Brisbane's 13.4 points scored per game is also tracking as the worst in their history - and the seventh worst of any team in the 23-year NRL era.

The Broncos' previous worst season was last year's 17.3 points per game.

The alarming stats come in the wake of Broncos chairman Karl Morris revealing Anthony Seibold's performance as head coach will be reviewed at the end of the season following Tuesday's annual general meeting.

Former Test hooker Kerrod Walters believes an attitude issue and lack of experience explains some of the defensive issues and has called for players to adopt more old fashioned tackling methods which align with the quicker speed of play.

"Defence is about attitude - you don't forget how to tackle,'' Walters said.

"And also about experience. You have to know where to be at the right time. People see the old players in our game and tip them to struggle but they don't because they are smart.

 

Brisbane Broncos legend Kevin Walters says strong defence comes down to attitude. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett
Brisbane Broncos legend Kevin Walters says strong defence comes down to attitude. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Pockett

 

"Look at Cameron Smith. He knows where he has to be to make a tackle. It's no coincidence the best teams in the competition have the best defence.

"With this new (six again) rule change I think they have to get back to the way we tackled which is first man around the legs and the second covers the ball.

"If you have a third man who comes in and tackles the legs that is waste of time because he is out of the next set. That creates opportunities.

"The attack and defensive records are related because teams get so much gas taken out of them when their defence is poor they struggle to attack.''

Broncos have already been held to nil twice this season which has only happened to them once before (in 2013).

Originally published as Unshackled: Why Seibold is done tinkering with Milford


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