After the disaster of last year's last-place finish – the first wooden spoon in Broncos history – Brisbane climbed a couple of places on the ladder and more importantly set themselves up for significant improvement in the future in 2021.
Kevin Walter's first season as coach didn't feature a rapid turnaround of fortunes on the field but with talented youngsters coming through the ranks and some savvy moves in the transfer market a return to finals contention shouldn't be too far away.
Off the field, the club freed up significant salary cap space by allowing big-money forwards Matt Lodge and Tevita Pangai jnr to leave the club mid-season (to the Warriors and Panther respectively), with Maroons winger Xavier Coates and enigmatic playmaker Anthony Milford also departing at the end of the season.
On the signings front they've snapped up Rabbitohs skipper Adam Reynolds to pull the strings as the team's new chief playmaker, with premiership-winning Origin player Kurt Capewell the other key signing for 2022.
With rising talents Payne Haas and Herbie Farnworth already making their mark at the club and boom youngsters Kobe Hetherington, Tesi Niu and Selwyn Cobbo are showing plenty of promise, the Broncos look like heading in the right direction next season.
Broncos player of the year: Payne Haas
2021 season by the numbers
Regular-season win/loss record
Brisbane had just one away win all season – against an injury-hit but still impressive Roosters side in round 11 – and even the league's relocation to Queensland from round 18 didn't lead to a string of wins.
There was some cause for optimism though, with the Broncos' second-half of the season much stronger than their first – after 15 rounds they had just three wins and a dozen losses, but after that point they went 4-5, with four of their five defeats coming by eight points or fewer.
Run metres differential
Much has been made of the young talent in the Broncos' forward pack in recent years but it hasn't really translated to the team winning the territorial battle, with Brisbane fourth-worst in the league for metres gained and second-worst for metres conceded.
Mid-season departures of Matt Lodge and Tevita Pangai jnr didn't help matters, with a huge responsibility falling on star prop Payne Haas and his 168 metres per game – the most of any forward in the NRL. Winger Corey Oates (162m per game) was the next best but only played 14 matches, with centre Herbie Farnworth (145m per game) the other standout.
Try scoring – game time
The Broncos were solid enough in attack in the first halves of games but their attacking threat faded in the second half, with the first period after half-time their worst in both attack and defence in 2021.
Tries conceded – game time
In the opening 20 minutes of matches the Broncos were a mid-table team, scoring 22 tries and conceding 22 tries across the season in that period. Then the defensive lapses began to set in, with the middle part of the game either side of half-time their worst periods in terms of conceding points.
Tries scored from six-agains
The six-again rule has been one of the biggest talking points of the NRL in the past two years, and while it has indirect influences on the flow of possession and fatigue across a match it also creates try-scoring chances that didn't exist previously. Unfortunately Brisbane were rarely able to take full advantage of those extra chances, with just nine tries coming after the Broncos received an extra set for a ruck infringement or offside ruling – the fewest of any team in the league.
Metres gained from offloads
The Broncos had the third-most offloads in the NRL this season with 275, but ranked fifth for metres gained from offloads with the Storm (2553m), Titans (2067m) and Panthers (2049m) getting more bang for their buck from second-phase play. Tevita Pangai jnr was the chief exponent with 48 offloads, ahead of Tom Flegler (28) and Matt Lodge (26).
Brisbane had the second-fewest attempts at goal but at least they made the most of them, ranking third for kicking percentage with Jamayne Isaako having his best season with the boot since 2018. Back-up sharpshooter Herbie Farnworth's record was even better with 11 goals from just 13 attempts at a percentage of 84.6%.
Brisbane used the most players in the league this year – equal with the Warriors who had to bring in short-term loan players after being based in Australia for another season. They blooded six debutants and used 11 players under the age of 23, with an average squad age of 25.
Brisbane ranked third in this category, behind Melbourne and Wests Tigers, with Herbie Farnworth, Anthony Milford, Tevita Pangai jnr and Ethan Bullemore all pulling off multiple steals across the season.