Just months after he fell out of favour at the Broncos, Newcastle Knights recruit Andrew McCullough has Brisbane management thinking on what might have been had they kept the veteran hooker at Red Hill, says rugby league legend Peter Sterling.
McCullough was forced to relocate to Newcastle after losing his position in the starting side to spritely up-and-comer Jake Turpin.
Since then it’s been night and day trajectories between the two clubs with Brisbane slumping to a grim sixth consecutive loss over the weekend, while the Knights continue to power up the ladder under the hand of new coach Adam O’Brien.
The 30-year-old hooker was instrumental in Newcastle’s crucial 14-12 victory over Manly on Sunday afternoon, pulling out two unbelievable try-saving plays to storm his side into the NRL top four.
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His departure from Brisbane is just another loss on the long list of the Broncos’ woes this season, particularly after the man slated to replace him in the No.9 jersey broke his ankle a week after McCullough’s move.
But Sterling believes Brisbane’s willingness to part ways so easily with McCullough sits in line with the exact problems cruelling the club; most importantly, a lack of proper appreciation for experience.
“When you buy experience it presents itself in so many different ways,” he said on Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.
“A couple of different plays [on the weekend] show exactly what Newcastle have bought [McCullough]. Firstly, scoring the try. But his one-on-one [try-saving] tackle on a big man in Brad Parker, that’s great defence, great awareness to know he needed to be there.
“And what about his chase on the final play of the game. He raced 70 metres to be the man in the right place in the right time [to stop the try].
“When you buy experience, that’s what you buy. You buy awareness, you buy desperation and they’re a couple of the attributes that the Broncos are missing.
“When you allow an Andrew McCullough to go elsewhere, you are forfeiting.”
Nine NRL commentator Mat Thompson agreed, adding: “What they wouldn’t give to have him back.”
Sterling’s sentiments come as Brisbane Broncos founder Barry Maranta offered a damning assessment of the fallen NRL power-club, claiming that the franchise has ignored his offers to help.
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Maranta said that the club had lost its original identity and lamented the fact that it would not heed the advice of experienced heads such as himself and former administrators Chris Johns and John Ribot.
“I’ve tried to get the message across,” he revealed to 2GB’s Wide World of Sports Radio.
“There are people like John Ribot, Chris Johns, Shane Edwards, there’s a lot of people that want to help, but for some reason there’s a feeling that we’re all persona non-grata.
“We’re not necessarily recognised as being able to help. Now perhaps they’ve got very good reasons for coming to that conclusion, but it’s disappointing that it’s a bit of a them versus us stage, when it should be something you’re all in together because this is when it is tough.
“We hoped that we gave some longevity to what we’d created, but clearly I’m puzzled as to exactly what the Broncos of today stand for and that disappoints me.”