Masterclass shows why Broncos must sign Reynolds
If someone on Brisbane's recruitment-and-retention committee has half a brain, they will pick up the phone on Friday and sign Adam Reynolds.
Reynolds may be embroiled in a bitter contract spat with the Rabbitohs but the halfback maestro rammed home what the Broncos are missing as he spearheaded Souths' 35-6 belting of Brisbane at Stadium Australia.
Souths supercoach Wayne Bennett stole bragging rights over Broncos rival Kevin Walters in their first face-off as NRL mentors, but the real narrative was the scrumbase stitch-up that consigned Brisbane to their fourth loss in five games.
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While Broncos' $1 million man Anthony Milford bumbled along at five-eighth, Reynolds and halves partner Benji Marshall - boasting a combined 540 NRL games - opened up Brisbane like playmaking surgeons.
The Broncos showed greater energy in attack and defence but until Brisbane find a senior playmaker who can steer the ship like the brilliant Reynolds, they will flounder in wooden-spoon territory.
With Reynolds and Marshall pulling the strings, the Bunnies led 18-6 at half-time and hit overdrive after the break as two-try Latrell Mitchell consigned Brisbane to their 12th consecutive away loss.
To compound their plight, Broncos forward Ben Te'o could miss an extended period with a suspected torn bicep.
BETTER BY HALVES
Reynolds underscored the absurdity of his contract saga with another fine display that demonstrated his playmaking proficiency - and exposed Brisbane's lack of it in the process.
Reynolds may be 31 in July but he offers everything Brisbane are craving: experience, communication, game management and composure under pressure.
He was everywhere. There was Reynolds' sublime fourth-minute cross-kick for Benji Marshall's opening try. He backed up Dane Gagai's 38th-minute bust to score under the posts, then booted the first two-point field goal of the modern era with a booming 43-metre snap for an 18-6 half-time lead. Superb. The Broncos must sign him.
SIXES AND SEVENS
Brisbane five-eighth Milford is at the crossroads as an NRL playmaker. He let down his junior halves partner, Tom Dearden, with an assortment of poor last-play options at critical moments.
Dearden has promise at No.7. The blond-haired terrier has vision, competes well and his pressure in defence led to Jamayne Isaako's 20th-minute try which narrowed Brisbane's deficit to 10-6.
Strangely, Dearden was benched with seven minutes to play, but Milford should have been hooked instead.
After 185 NRL games, Milford still lacks the execution to turn the screws. Halfback icon Cooper Cronk lashed his inability to kick Souths into the corners. Off-contract at season's end, Milford is on death row at Red Hill.
Despite the scoreline, the Broncos are showing more commitment and line speed in defence compared to last year's weekly debacles under Anthony Seibold.
In midfield, Broncos forwards Payne Haas and Tevita Pangai Jnr tried hard, but Brisbane technically failed to number up on the edges and Souths' fine spine made them pay.
Brisbane's problem remains their mental lapses and lack of resilience in key moments.
They are the mistakes of youth that an old hard-head, like Reynolds, can remedy.
WHY KEVVIE BENCHED DEARDEN
By Peter Badel
Broncos coach Kevin Walters insists he has not lost faith in Tom Dearden despite benching the rookie halfback in their heavy 35-6 loss to the Rabbitohs at Stadium Australia.
Walters' game of musical chairs at the scrumbase continued against title-contenders South Sydney after he called Dearden to the sidelines and injected halfback counterpart Brodie Croft into the fray for the final 10 minutes.
It seemed a harsh call by Walters. Dearden started well with Brisbane's first line break and good defensive pressure which forced a Souths error in the lead-up to Jamayne Isaako's 20th-minute try, but he faded out of the contest as he was outgunned by Souths maestro Adam Reynolds.
Dearden is off-contract at season's end and with the Cowboys circling for his signature, there are fears he could be lost to Townsville, but Walters is adamant he sees upside in the 20-game youngster.
"Tom had enough after 70 minutes, I thought his night was over," Walters said, explaining his decision to replace Dearden with Croft.
"Tom was solid again, he is only young and still learning the ropes of the game, it's not a good environment to learn when you are up against a team like Souths.
"We are trying to get our head around it (their best halves combination). We have a lot of faith in Tom and what he can bring to the side, but the situation is tough, it's hard to develop his skills and be the player he can be when we are losing.
"It's very delicate.
"He is well aware of things and we are in continual conversations. Kick selection is a big area for us and primarily our six and seven have to get the ball to where they should be."
Walters must have been watching a different game to most NRL pundits.
While five-eighth Anthony Milford came up with some shocking last-play options, Walters lauded the performance of the besieged $1 million playmaker.
"It was his best game of the year," he said. "'Milf' was very aggressive with his tackling. He has a lot of positives in his game, but we are not on the money as a side and when we come good, he will be part of the revival."
Asked whether Brisbane would consider signing the off-contract Reynolds, Walters said: "I'm not sure where he is at with Souths, I have more to worry about with my own side than who is playing where next year.
"He kicks most teams off the park and puts them to shame. He is a valuable player for South Sydney that's for sure."
Originally published as Masterclass shows why Broncos must sign Reynolds