Brisbane’s player takeover involved giving more freedom to the Broncos’ much-maligned halves Brodie Croft and Anthony Milford.
And powerhouse forward Tevita Pangai Jr demanded a switch back to the middle, where he formed a potent starting trio with Payne Haas and Patrick Carrigan.
Corey Oates, who again played second-row rather than wing, revealed the changes on Sunday after Brisbane beat the Bulldogs 26-8 at Suncorp Stadium to snap a six-game losing streak that has put coach Anthony Seibold under the microscope.
While Milford contributed a lone try assist out of the Broncos halves, there were signs of life after a dire period.
“The halves we’ve got, I think they love playing what they see,” Oates said on The Sunday Footy Show.
“The coaches and some of the senior players just made a decision to let them run what hey want to do.
“It was just a really good week for us and the thing about that was we just had to back it up with our defence. You can’t really attack too much if you don’t have the ball.
“It wasn’t perfect but it’s a start for us.”
Pangai Jr scored a try, delivered a try assist and ran for 109m as a middle forward, rather than playing on an edge. The 113kg powerhouse was more effective than those stats indicate, making a significant difference for the Broncos.
“He was massive. It was actually interesting, he wanted to play middle for the last couple of weeks and he asked the question to ‘Seibs’,” Oates said.
“I’m so happy that he did it, just because of his energy in the middle, those hit-ups. Having him and Payne and Patty start the game the way they do, it’s a big help.
“If we can get that out of Tevita every week … I’d let him do whatever he wants, to be honest with you.”
Oates said that Seibold looked a relieved man post-match. He insisted that Seibold still had a significant role in preparing for the match.
“Obviously a lot happier than he has been the last six weeks,” Oates said.
“I think he was pleased just with the way we turned up. We’ve been hurting a lot the last month or so and what we asked to do during the week, he was happy for it and he just reiterated that what we do at training we had to take out on the field.
“All the ownership was on us. If we had a bad performance, it was all on us.
“I feel like he was really happy that we all turned up for the team, for the club, this weekend. Really showed that we do care as a club and as players, we know that we’re a lot better [than we have been].
“He obviously oversaw everything, he still runs training. I think he just gave us more ownership on us players. I think we took that really well; the ownership on us, it puts more pressure on us as players.
“Honestly, I’m just happy to get the win. It’s a start … I really hope that everyone gets a bit of energy out of the game last night.”
NRL Highlights: Broncos v Bulldogs – Round 9
It was a far from convincing performance from Brisbane but a step in the right direction. They next face Wests Tigers, then Melbourne.
It remains to be seen what coaching method Seibold will employ with his players moving forward, after huge scrutiny over his role.
“When I was coaching, you try everything,” NSW coach and former Roosters boss Brad Fittler said on The Sunday Footy Show.
“They were at the stage where he (Seibold) said, ‘You know what, you can take full ownership of how you play, so you can actually run the training session as well.
“You try a lot of things as coaches, but the fact of the matter is, Canterbury are coming last. They find it very hard to score tries, they put very little pressure on Brisbane.
“So right at the moment, a training session run by the players ain’t going to help them next week, or the week after against the Storm. There’s a lot of areas where they need to tighten up.”
Fittler said that Brisbane were still a poor side under pressure. Eels legend Peter Sterling cast doubt on exactly how much of a ‘takeover’ the players had really been allowed.
“I doubt they would have had the week [in charge]. Anthony Seibold would have had to be in control. They might have got a session or two,” Sterling said on The Sunday Footy Show.
“What concerned me was [captain] Alex Glenn coming out and saying, ‘Well, if we get beaten this weekend, because we have had our [takeover], then we’ve got no excuses’ … you shouldn’t have had excuses the previous weeks as well.
“Like Freddy says, you try everything but I don’t think it was a case of giving the lunatics the run of the asylum.”
Broncos v Bulldogs Round 9: Presser – Anthony Seibold
Former champion forward Paul Gallen challenged Pangai Jr to become a consistent performer for the Broncos, recalling his incredible performance last year against Cowboys Dally M Medallist Jason Taumalolo.
“He just hammered Taumalolo and to be fair, he did nothing the rest of the season,” Gallen said on The Sunday Footy Show.
“He had a great game the other night. If you’re a Broncos fan or a Broncos player, you need him to back it up week-in, week-out, because he’s a major key to their side, I believe.
“And obviously getting [David] Fifita back in a few weeks will be a big plus for them. I can see them winning a fair few games coming into the back end of the year, they’ve just got too much playing talent not to.
“But as you (Fittler) said, they don’t cope well with pressure. Had they played a decent team the other nightl they would have been in a lot of trouble because the Dogs did come back they just obviously weren’t good enough.”