Could Croft be a solution for the Broncos?
Could Croft be a solution for the Broncos?

Secret meeting as Broncos hunt Storm gun

THE Brisbane Broncos have wasted no time in looking to fix their halves hole after pictures emerged of out-of-favour Melbourne Storm halfback Brodie Croft meeting with Anthony Seibold in Sydney.

The Broncos scraped into the finals - a feat that looked unlikely for much of the season - before they were thrashed in a record-breaking defeat in an elimination final against Parramatta.

In almost a fortnight since the 58-0 drubbing, the Broncos have wasted no time, reportedly telling several stars they are free to leave and starting the search for a halfback.

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The Broncos started the year with Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford in the halves but Nikorima left for the Warriors mid-year.

They had 18-year-old Tom Dearden debut, as well as hooker-turned-halfback Jake Turpin, Sean O'Sullivan as well as out-of-form former skipper Darius Boyd in the halves but nothing seemed to gel for the club with the forwards given much of the credit for their finals run.

While Andrew Johns said the Broncos should chase Raiders half Aiden Sezer, it appears as though the Broncos are narrowing in on Croft to fill the void with the Storm halfback suddenly on the outer in Melbourne.

Croft reportedly met Broncos coach Anthony Seibold at East Sydney's The Arch Cafe on Stanley Street "for around an hour earlier today", Fox Sports reported on Thursday.

Croft was seen as the heir apparent for Cooper Cronk and took over the reins in 2018, helping the side to the Grand Final against the Sydney Roosters.

But despite being a big part of the Storm's charge to the minor premiership, Croft was the big casualty of Jahrome Hughes moving into the halves after Craig Bellamy and the Storm's senior players pushed for fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen to get into the starting side.

It leaves Croft, 22, at the crossroads and a prime candidate for a move north, despite another season in his three-year deal with the Storm.

Despite Cameron Munster and Hughes admitting they don't have the communication Munster had with Croft as yet, they did impress in the 32-0 thrashing of the Eels last weekend.

Speaking on Fox League's NRL360, James Hooper said Croft would be an almost certainty for the Broncos.

"I'll tell you who the Broncos will be signing as a playmaker, it will be Brodie Croft," Hooper said.

"I'm genuinely of the belief that it will be Brodie Croft who goes into the Broncos' system and takes control of that side next year."

Would be a real test of how much he learned from Cameron Smith.
Would be a real test of how much he learned from Cameron Smith.

Some reports suggest the club may only have $110,000 to spend on Croft with the belief more players may have to depart the club. Croft is reportedly on around $300,000 at the Storm.

The signing of Croft could be some good news for the Broncos, who have weathered the storm after announcing Matt Lodge was being considered for the side's captaincy.

Club great Glenn Lazarus didn't hold back over reports claiming Lodge was set to take over the Brisbane reins in 2020, saying it would make his blood boil if the prop was named skipper of his beloved NRL club.

Lazarus's scathing criticism came after Billy Slater and Paul Gallen also passionately opposed the Broncos opting for Lodge, despite the 24-year-old turning his life around since a drunken 2015 New York rampage.

But former premiership-winning captain Lockyer believed the Broncos could deal with the inevitable backlash if Lodge replaced Darius Boyd as skipper.

"If Matt Lodge was to become the new captain, I guess there'd be a lot of questions asked around what happened in the previous years past," Lockyer said.

"It would be difficult to manage all that initially but if you're looking at solely focusing on better on-field performance by the Broncos, then I think, that needs to be secondary to actually picking your captain based on who's going to give you the best performance on the field.

"He has played only 59 games in his career, he's 24. But I've got to say, from where (coach) Anthony Seibold sits, he is a leader - he's a leader of men. (And) if you think they can do the job, then give them a go."

Could it be a straight handover from Body to Lodge?
Could it be a straight handover from Body to Lodge?

Wally Lewis also backed Lodge as captain, saying it may help the form front-rower go to the next level.

But two-time Broncos premiership player Lazarus is clearly not convinced.

"It makes my blood boil to think that Matthew Lodge could be the potential captain of that football club," Lazarus said. "I would be absolutely disgusted to see Lodge leading the club.

"In fact, I would go to some lengths in regards to getting rid of a lot of the Broncos stuff that I have kept.

"Surely we can come up with something better than that, someone that people look up to and not see as a drunken thug."

Lodge has emerged as the favourite after Seibold put a broom through his leadership group in the wake of Brisbane's embarrassing loss to Parramatta.

Seibold is also reportedly poised to inject young forward Pat Carrigan - who has played just 19 games - into the Broncos' leadership group.

Former Brisbane playmaker Ben Ikin said the club's "deplorable" recruitment and retention plan had ensured there was a leadership vacuum at the club.

"They've left a leadership hole," Ikin said.