Broncos’ Madden looks to tame Panthers he almost joined

Joel Gould |

Jock Madden (right) has learned a lot about playmaking from Brisbane coach Kevin Walters (left).
Jock Madden (right) has learned a lot about playmaking from Brisbane coach Kevin Walters (left).

Brisbane halfback Jock Madden has been backed to step up in Adam Reynolds’s absence against a Penrith side he was once on the cusp of joining.

With Reynolds out of action with a strained medial collateral ligament the 24-year-old Madden will play No.7 away at the Panthers on Thursday night as last season’s grand finalists go head to head.

His inclusion sets up something of a David v Goliath battle against Nathan Cleary, a three-time premiership winner and one of the game’s greats.

Madden showed in the five games he played last year that he has the temperament and skill to step up in the NRL cauldron without Reynolds.

He has also shown great patience and commitment early in his career – so much so that hooker Billy Walters likened him to seven-time NFL Superbowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady.

In his first two seasons of college football at the University of Michigan, Brady hardly made it on the field – but he persisted, became captain of Michigan and an Orange Bowl champion, going on to become an American football legend.

“He is very professional,” Walters said of Madden.

“We went and listened to Tom Brady speak and he reminded me a lot of Tom Brady.

“He has got that mentality that it is not if he is going to get his chance – it is when he will get his chance.

“He is a really humble kid and not kicking stones that he is not playing NRL (regularly) yet.

“He is doing all the things behind the scenes to be ready and I know he is going to take his opportunity (on Thursday).”

Before signing with the Broncos, the former Wests Tigers playmaker had interest from Penrith.

At the end of 2022 there were reports a move for Madden to the Panthers the following year was as good as done.

Penrith’s understudy to Cleary at that time was Sean O’Sullivan, who joined the Dolphins in 2023.

But Madden’s manager Chris Orr said the Broncos, where he’s surrounded by a suite of outstanding halves, were the perfect fit for the player.

Reynolds is a lot closer to the end of his career than Cleary, so Madden’s long-term prospects were also a factor in choosing Brisbane.

“Jock had options but there was appeal at the Broncos with the depth chart,” Orr told AAP.

“Adam Reynolds is there, and learning from him – and hopefully succeeding him – was an inviting thing.

“Jock has such an array of great people around him.

“He is a halfback learning his craft with Reynolds as a mentor and he has the coach Kevin Walters and (assistants) Alfie Langer and Lee Briers there as well.”

Billy Walters said Madden had to focus on his own game against Penrith and not try to emulate the missing Reynolds.

“We just want him to be Jock Madden, not Adam Reynolds,” he said.

“He is a great little player and the future of our club.”