Former Queensland captain and Broncos premiership winner Trevor Gillmeister says the entire state is hoping Kevin Walters can pull Brisbane out of the mire in 2021 – because the future success of the Maroons is depending on it.
The Broncos suffered a cataclysmic implosion last year, with the once proud club disintegrating and finishing with its first ever wooden spoon.
The season of turmoil saw Anthony Seibold sacked as coach, with club legend Walters departing his role as Queensland Origin coach to take the reins at the Broncos to rebuild their crumbled empire.
While Wayne Bennett returned as Maroons coach to conjure another miracle series win for Queensland in 2020, Gillmeister says the poor performances of the Broncos and Cowboys last season should be setting off alarm bells for Queensland’s Origin powerbrokers.
“Last year’s series win for Queensland was incredible, but what people forget is that Game 3 was the first time since the Broncos were created in 1988 that there was not a single Broncos player in the Queensland team,” Gillmester said.
“Did you ever think we would see the day?
“To me is a bit scary, because our depth of talent for Queensland has gotten worse over the years.
“I have no idea about the figures on how many Queenslanders are playing in the NRL at the moment, but we need to look at this situation really, really quickly.
“I have spoken to a few other blokes about it, and I’m not the only one that thinks that – when we don’t have one Broncos player in the Origin team, with all of their development and resources – to not have one player for Queensland is a scary thing.
“Something has gone wrong.
“That is a worrying sign for me. The Broncos used to be the production line for the Queensland team.
“There were years I remember when the Broncos had 11 or 12 players all picked for the Maroons.
“There wouldn’t be that many blokes in the Broncos team now that are even eligible for Queensland.”
Gillmeister said he hopes all three Queensland clubs enjoy better days ahead under new regimes, with the Broncos under Walters, the Cowboys under Todd Payten, and the Titans building on the revival they started in 2020 in Justin Holbrook’s first year as coach.
“The Titans did very well, considering they started 2020 as the wooden spooners,” Gillmeister said.
“They really rebuilt their credibility under Justin Holbrook, and ended up with Jai Arrow, AJ Brimson, Phil Sami and Moeaki Fotuaika all playing for Queensland last year.
“With Tino Fa’asuamaleaui there now, they have four current Maroons there this season, as well as David Fifita, who would have played for Queensland if he was fit.
“The Broncos will have one in Xavier Coates. The Cowboys had a terrible year as well, but they still had Val Holmes and Coen Hess play for Queensland this year, and there is no doubt Michael Morgan would have been there as well had he been fit.
“We need the three Queensland teams firing. The Titans are clearly getting their act together. If this season had gone on for another four or five weeks, they would have made the top eight easy. But the Broncos and Cowboys were awful last year.
“Kevvy is the right man for the job, no doubt about that. And he has good blokes around him as well.
“But it is not just about fixing the team, we really need that Broncos production line back up and running again so we can see more good kids coming through the system wanting to play for Queensland.”