Brisbane Broncos recruit John Asiata is a rare hybrid talent – a halfback in a front rower’s body. If new Broncos coach Kevin Walters needs a playmaker, a front rower, a back rower, a lock forward, an impact bench forward or utility, Asiata can get the job done.
He will bring much needed experience and leadership to this young Broncos roster, having played 128 first grade games, two tests for both Samoa and Tonga, a 2015 premiership winner with the North Queensland Cowboys and played a key role in his former club’s fairy tale run to the 2017 grand final.
And it is not just the on-field experience and leadership Asiata will bring to his new club and team mates, he sets the example off the field as a professional, hardworking and humble team man who is dedicated to being a role model for kids and has a strong focus on his community work which twice earned him the ‘Clubman of the Year’ award at the Cowboys.
Unfortunately for Asiata, he had Jason Taumalolo, the 2016 Dally M medalist, ahead of him for his preferred lock forward position at North Queensland, so his decision to depart Townsville came down to his desire to be a starting 13.Embed from Getty Images
Whether Walters will shift current starting lock Patrick Carrigan to the front row to make way for Asiata remains to be seen, but the biggest beneficiaries will be the Broncos halves should Asiata be handed the number 13 jumper.
Carrigan is a strong defender and one-out ball runner, but Asiata’s ball playing skills will add another dimension to a misfiring Broncos attack. He would link the halves on both sides of the field in the same mould as a Jake Trbojevic or Victor Radley and take the pressure off the likes of maligned five-eighth Anthony Milford and inexperienced halfback Tom Dearden.
Not only a strong ball runner himself with a crisp pinpoint pass, his silky skills also include another attacking kick option, particularly his short kicking game.
His form had stagnated in recent seasons under the stale game plans of his former coach Paul Green, but a new club and new coach may help him return to his best football, and that can only serve as a huge positive for a Broncos side looking to rebuild back to the powerhouse they once were.
At just 27-years-old, Asiata still has plenty of quality seasons left in him and plenty of time to improve as a player and should not to be underestimated. It is a shame for Cowboys supporters because they know and have seen what he can do, and now Broncos supporters may get to enjoy watching Asiata play to his full potential under the tutelage of Walters.
Asiata turned down at least seven different clubs to sign a one-year deal with the Broncos. Considering the Broncos salary cap woes, a player of his quality is a handy pickup and there is no doubt he will be looking to earn an extension at Red Hill by putting in good performances on the field.
If Asiata earns the starting lock forward position at Brisbane, he will not be shackled like he was at the Cowboys and he will have the opportunity to play a major role in a Broncos revival.