Rea persuades Broncos to buck their trend

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The Independent Online

When the London Broncos coach, Tony Rea, sent his players away at the end of last season, he gave them one thought to ponder. "I told them to come back with their minds freed up - ready to be quicker in the way we play," he recalls. It is advice they have taken to heart.

When the London Broncos coach, Tony Rea, sent his players away at the end of last season, he gave them one thought to ponder. "I told them to come back with their minds freed up - ready to be quicker in the way we play," he recalls. It is advice they have taken to heart.

Even allowing for the higher-than-usual turnover of players, the transformation in the Broncos' style this season has been remarkable. Always regarded as a hard-working side, difficult to break down and beat, they have emerged as a different animal this year. It isn't just the 72 points they put past Wakefield three weeks ago; with slightly steadier finishing, they could have scored 50 or so against Wigan last week, so superior were they to one of the teams regularly there or thereabouts at the top of Super League.

As they had lost key players such as Dennis Moran, Jim Dymock and Steele Retchless this year, many feared for London on the field - quite apart from the financial problems that almost saw them closed down. But the new breed have brought something completely different to the club's approach.

"With some of the older players, we were trying to play at their speed," says Rea. Now, with three half-backs such as James Leuluai, Luke Dorn and Mark McLinden on the park, the level of creativity is sky-high, and the pace and panache of the ball movement can be dizzying. Despite the loss of his hooker Neil Budworth for the season, Rea wants to keep that momentum going against Widnes today, but is wary of the Broncos becoming burdened by expectations that they have to be brilliant all the time. "We have spoken about that," he says. "We just have to be in control of it. We have to work for the position to play like we can do, and the players all understand that."

As long as London can maintain that balance, they can go a long way towards fulfilling Rea's boast that they are playing the most exciting rugby, of either code, in London at the moment. They have appealed to the hordes who watched England play Scotland two miles away from Griffin Park yesterday to come and give them a chance.

"It wasn't really a challenge, more of an invitation to come down and see how we play the game," says Rea. "I've never been stopped in the street as much by people saying how well we're playing. We'd just like more people to see it."

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