‘I couldn’t believe it’: McGuire release stunned Lewis
Brisbane great Wally Lewis has laid down the challenge to the Broncos' dynamic young pack, questioning the club's decision to release Josh McGuire.
The Broncos will bank on youth after the departure of 618 games worth of experience at the end of the 2018 season.
Korbin Sims' (120 games) exit to St George Illawarra, Sam Thaiday's (304) retirement and the decision to grant McGuire (194) an early release to North Queensland leaves the Broncos relying on an inexperienced pack next year.
Of the forwards in their likely best 17, only Matt Gillett (183) and Alex Glenn (239) have played more than 70 games.
Now-departed coach Wayne Bennett described the likes of Tevita Pangai Junior, Payne Haas, David Fifita and Jaydn Su'a as the most impressive collection of young forwards he had ever seen emerge at the northern glamour club.
While all have been earmarked for State of Origin representation, they are also unproven at the top level and that inexperience showed in their 48-18 elimination final loss to St George Illawarra.
And Lewis said they would miss McGuire's grit and attitude under new coach Anthony Seibold next year.
"I couldn't believe it. He's a performer. I like him as a player, he has a dig every game," Lewis said at the Jack Newton Celebrity Classic golf tournament.
"He plays well above his weight. He's a bloke that dictates respect from the opposition. You always going to get a hard battle.
"He could come up against his father and smash him to bits and wait until full-time to ask his dad how he was feeling.
"That's the bloke you love having in your team."
Broncos three-time grand final winner Wendell Sailor said there was "no doubt" the Broncos had the capacity to be in the premiership mix next year.
But he warned they had to reverse the manner in which their young side were overawed by the occasion during week one of the finals.
"Their best and their worst games are too far apart," Sailor said.
"The Dragons went up there and beat them (at Suncorp Stadium) for the first time since 2009.
"It's about getting consistency. Tevita Pangai Junior, he had a very quiet game and that's why I'd expect him to step up.
"Fifita is a great young player too but I think Seibold can get the best out of them.
"I know Wayne is a good coach but Seibold is a new-age coach and he can get the best out of the young players.
"I wish Josh McGuire didn't move on but it's a chance for Joe Ofahengaue to step up."