THE Broncos start to the year in which they are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their entry to what is now the NRL has been inauspicious, to say the least.
And I'm not just referring to the first-round loss to the Sea Eagles last Friday night.
If the second-half capitulation was not bad enough for fan morale, coach Anthony Griffin delivered the karate chop when he accused his team of rolling over. And he was not talking about their superannuation contributions.
Accusing his team of rolling over - or surrendering - is a landmark call from a Broncos coach.
In my close association with the club in that period I can never recall - or imagine - Wane Bennett making that claim, at least not in public.
This is extremely derogatory terminology and one the coach can never detract.
Even captain Sam Thaiday hummed to a similar tune, saying 'we were too soft on ourselves'.
Come on guys, this is the first match of a 26-week plus season. If you're soft and submitting in game one, what potholes are to come in the road ahead.
The Broncos players seemingly had a personality transplant at halftime on Friday night.
They had played a superb first 40 minutes, impressively absorbing early pressure from the Sea Eagles before letting the visitors have both barrels.
They led 14-6 at the break, but with an ounce of luck it could have been 26-6.
And that score reflected their domination and the exciting footy they had played.
But, as coach Griffin more bluntly expressed post match, they surrendered at the start of the second half conceding three tries in seven minutes.
In this period of the match I was in the company of members of the team that thrashed Manly 44-10 in that first match 25 years ago, and - let's say - they were unimpressed.
Now, I would suggest, Griffin has to make an even stronger statement than the one he expressed in the post-match press conference.
He has to make changes, albeit after just one game. If not, his pungent words will seem hollow.
But while the disparaging words of Griffin will ring around Red Hill for a while I imagine, they almost pale in comparison to the spray former Queensland Origin forward Dan Stains has aimed at his former club, the Sharks.
The new coach of the Nambour Crushers, Stains earlier this year spent a week at the Sharks observing the operation, and was far from impressed with what he saw.
He called the club culture toxic, and gained the impression some players were disinterested.
But at least no-one has accused the Sharks players of rolling over.
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