Once his fiercest critic, Brisbane great Chris Johns is now backing Anthony Seibold to end the Broncos' NRL premiership drought if they can overcome South Sydney on Friday night.
Two-time premiership player Johns initially slammed Seibold's appointment as Brisbane's coach this year after good mate Kevin Walters was overlooked, dismissing the ex-South Sydney mentor as "unproven" and claiming the Rabbitohs "choked" in 2018 under his reign.
However, Johns has changed his tune after Brisbane surged to seventh spot with just one loss in their last seven games ahead of their grudge match with ex-Broncos coach Wayne Bennett's Rabbitohs.
"I think they are going well," Johns told AAP.
"They are a young side, they are an exciting team on paper and they have shown promise so far.
"But this is semi-finals football that has come a few weeks early.
"If they don't win this one I would say they can kiss their season goodbye.
"But if they win this one and show what they are about they may just make some serious inroads in the finals because it is a very open season with just Sydney Roosters as clear favourites."
It is a far cry from Johns' initial assessment of Seibold.
Johns was so angry after former teammate Walters did not replace Bennett as Brisbane coach this year, he claimed Broncos CEO Paul White should be sacked if Seibold was not a success.
"South Sydney were one of the favourites to win the premiership and they choked but everyone is walking around saying he is the (Broncos') heir apparent," Johns told AAP in October.
"I can't believe the decision they have made. If we don't get success in the next few years Paul White should be the one marched."
Fast forward eight months and Johns is happy with the Broncos' call as they look to end their longest premiership drought after claiming the last of their six titles back in 2006.
"They have shown signs that there is something special there," Johns said.
"But this will be the litmus test for how the team and Seibold is going against South Sydney if they don't fire up and perform."
Johns even defended Seibold after stunning criticism by South Sydney assistant Jason Demetriou, who claimed on Thursday the Brisbane coach's game plan would not work in NRL finals based on title favourites the Rabbitohs' 2018 preliminary final exit.
"It's not all about the game plan. It's about getting the players in the right frame of mind, getting them to play for each other and getting them to play for the coach," Johns said.
"All of that will be evident tomorrow night.
"If they come with their 'A game' and knock South Sydney over you would have to say Seibold has had a pretty good year."
Australian Associated Press