NRL report card: Parker rates the Queensland teams
As we enter round six, Broncos great and Fox League commentator Corey Parker runs a rule over the NRL teams
There's no doubting it's been a tough start to the year for the Broncos but the shining light for them has been the new additions to the team and the guys we haven't seen a lot of before. Tevita Pangai Jnr has had a really strong start to the year and is fast becoming a leader in the forward pack. He's a strong runner of the football, has an offload in him and looks more comfortable in his role in the team with every game he plays. Jamayne Iasaako has been another shining light for the Broncos this season. He's shown he's cool under pressure, safe under the high ball and a strong kick returner. It's young blokes like this the Broncos can build their club and season around.
There's no point in sugar coating it, the Broncos need results. There seems to be a lack of cohesion and confidence there at the moment and their attack has dropped significantly. Last year they averaged 24.9 points per game and this year they're averaging just 13.8 points per game and that's not enough to win at this level. They need to stick to their structures and processes, find some confidence and have collective buy-in from all 17 players in the squad and they'll turn it around.
There's been no player under more pressure this season than Matt Lodge. He had a lot of scrutiny on him during the off-season and would have had a lot of head noise, but he's put that behind him and has been one of the Broncos' most consistent performers over the first five weeks.
Who needs to lift
No surprise - it's Anthony Milford. He's done some great things this season and shown glimpses of the brilliance that we know he's capable of, but I'd like to see more of it. He needs to be the Broncos' chief playmaker on the field. When he's running the football they look their most dangerous.
They're two from five at the moment so at this stage it has to be a C. The frustrating thing is not that they're two from five, it's that their effort hasn't been 100% every week.
Warriors v Broncos: Sat 14 April @3pm LIVE and EXCLUSIVE with no ad-breaks during play on FOX LEAGUE
Which Queensland team will finish higher on the NRL table?
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Like the Broncos, it's been a tough start to the year for the Cowboys. They aren't where they'd like to be or where most people expected them to be. Coming into the season off the back of a grand final appearance and with the return of Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, they would have expected to be in the top four, not the bottom four. Their strength this season has probably been their bench and in particular Cohen Hess. He has picked up from where he left off from last year and is showing the form that earned him an Origin debut.
Their predictability in attack. Teams are so well coached defensively and the block plays that the Cowboys offer are becoming easier to defend against. Against the Warriors at the weekend the Cowboys completed 91% of their sets and had 51 tackles inside the Warriors' red zone but didn't look like scoring. They need to find a way to reinvigorate their attack.
It's hard to split Coen Hess and Kyle Feldt. Hess has continued to show he's one of the best impact players in the NRL. His ability to come on and score a try or create something is great to watch. Feldt has shown some real spark in patches this year. His aerial skills have to be up there with the best.
Who needs to lift
There's been plenty of talk about Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan's form this year but I'd like to see more from hooker Jake Granville. When Jake is on at dummy half and putting forwards on the ball, the Cowboys look their best. I'd love to see him get out of dummy half and run the ball more and if he does, I think that will get the Cowboys' forward pack on the front foot and give their halves more room to move.
If the Broncos are a C, the Cowboys get a C minus. Like the Broncos they aren't where they'd like to be on the ladder but there's no need to panic. There's still plenty of footy to be played and you can never write off a team with Thurston, Morgan and Matt Scott in it.
Cowboys v Bulldogs: Sat 14 April @5.30pm LIVE and EXCLUSIVE with no ad-break during play on FOX LEAGUE
GOLD COAST TITANS
The Titans' off-season recruits have been their biggest strength and none more so than coach Garth Brennan. He has been able to instil a belief in the team and the players have really bought into the culture that he's brought to the club. Their attacking game looks solid and fullback Michael Gordon has had a real stabilising effect at the back.
The Titans have been the big improvers in 2018 and I've been impressed with what I've seen so far, but their edge defence still needs some work. They've cleaned it up a bit over the last few weeks, but they're still leaking too many tries on their edges.
Ryan James has had another strong start to the year and has done a great job with his edge running. Jai Arrow has also impressed me over the opening rounds. He's exceeded people's expectations and probably his own. In round one he was forced into the front row and handled it brilliantly. Since then he's moved back to lock and has made the position his own.
Who needs to lift
I'd like to see more from Bryce Cartwright. He was a big off-season purchase for the Titans but is yet to fire a shot. He needs to find his spot in the team. We all know he's got plenty of flair, but I'd like to see him roll up his sleeves and get stuck into the tough stuff.
They're three from five and the form Queensland team so I'm going to give them a B minus. Before a ball was kicked this season a lot of people, me included, had them outside the top eight. If they can continue this form throughout the season, they may find themselves playing finals footy come September.
Panthers v Titans: Sun 15 April @2pm LIVE and EXCLUSIVE with no ad-breaks during play on FOX LEAGUE