Rugby league guru Phil Gould says he hopes Ben Ikin is the man to “resurrect” the Broncos but fears the new head of football will be cut down by the “broken system” destroying the former juggernaut club.
Ikin, a member of the Broncos’ 2000 NRL premiership team and former 55-game Brisbane playmaker, has been appointed as Peter Nolan’s replacement. Nolan was sacked following the Broncos’ 46-0 belting at the hands of the Rabbitohs last Thursday, as was general manager of football operations Andrew Croll.
Gould says that one of the leading reasons for Brisbane’s alarming slide, in which the club could be headed for a second-straight wooden spoon, is a loss of identity and loosened grip on junior development.
The legendary coach says the Broncos “got away from being the Broncos … and you are seeing the cost of that now”.
As Ikin prepares to leave his Fox Sports role as NRL 360 host to take up his gig at Brisbane, Gould aired his concerns over the 44-year-old on Nine’s 100% Footy.
“I know what’s caused it and I know what the long-term solution is to it and I would hope that Ben Ikin, with his rugby league DNA and having watched this thing unfold, will be able to resurrect it,” Gould said.
“It’s not a short-term fix. Kevin Walters saying he’ll win a premiership in three years is pie in the sky stuff. That’s him being hopeful and trying to give hope to his fans. He’s a passionate young man, he loves his football, we are all cheering for Kevin Walters, but the system up there is broken.
“It was broken some years ago. And despite our best efforts to warn them they said, ‘We’re the Broncos; it won’t happen to us’. Well it has happened. And they’re not going to get out of it unless they get a long-term solution.
“I hope Ben Ikin is the man to do it and I hope he’s given the support to do it and I hope the fellas like these fellas aren’t victims of it, as well, because they’re as much the Broncos as anyone.”
Ikin last year applied for the Broncos’ chief executive position amid the exit of Paul White, but he was beaten to the role by Storm boss Dave Donaghy.
Despite his application, Ikin wasn’t deterred from labelling the Broncos’ roster management “disgusting” on NRL 360.
Superstars David Fifita, Reece Walsh and Xavier Coates have all departed the club in the last 12 months, while Kalyn Ponga, Cameron Munster, Sam Walker and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui are among the long list of supremely talented footballers now shining for rival clubs despite having passed through the Broncos’ junior system.
Ikin will be tasked with regenerating Brisbane’s massacred roster management in his new role.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!