Broncos boss draws 'line in the sand'

Brisbane players have been shown the "line in the sand" by chief executive Dave Donaghy after more off-field distractions ahead of a defining NRL season.

The Broncos boss, who is less than a year into the job after moving from the Melbourne Storm, fronted media alongside Adam Reynolds on Thursday to take the heat off the captain and again defend the club's culture.

It followed the self-imposed stand-down of forward TC Robati after he was charged with sexual assault.

Marquee recruit Reece Walsh made more unwanted headlines after a verbal stoush with Gold Coast rival David Fifita at a nightclub.

Payne Haas has also been granted leave until January 16 after his mother was charged over her alleged involvement in a car accident that killed three people.

Players returned to training this week, but representative back-rower Kurt Capewell was another key absentee after testing positive to COVID-19.

"Coming back (from a Christmas break), there's a line in the sand and an opportunity to build over the next four weeks (before the first preseason trial)," Donaghy said.

He downplayed the Walsh incident as "a Bronco and a Titan in a teacup", and said the players were aware of their expectations.

"From a high-level perspective in terms of culture, we have a really strong culture," Donaghy said in what was his second public defence of the club's culture since taking the job.

"It's a great privilege to play at the Broncos, but it comes with great responsibilities too.

"We've done a lot of work in terms of our values and standards that, to me, underpins the culture."

Captain Reynolds said the absence of forwards Haas, Robati and Kobe Hetherington (biceps) had been felt since their return to Red Hill.

"It's a period that's tricky, but also a great experience for those boys," he said.

"It's a great opportunity for the other boys to step up and learn.

"We've seen last year you can be down five or six troops at any stage and need to call on these blokes to step in and do a job, so it's great exposure for them."

Brisbane are in the midst of the longest finals drought in the club's history, three seasons, falling from fourth after round 19 to finish ninth in the 2022 season.

That included 60-12 and 53-6 losses in back-to-back weeks as they lost five of their last six games.

"Last year we fell away ... some pretty big blowouts towards the end of the year, and that still hurts," Reynolds said.

"As much as there were positives, those things stick around.

"If we want to be a genuine contender next year we've got to be better in that area (defence)."