Queensland selectors eyeing Broncos and Souths
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The third-placed Brisbane Broncos take on the fourth-placed South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night in what is shaping as a must-win game for both teams.
A heavy loss could see either team fall to eighth place, whilst second place could await the winner. With the logjam that is becoming the NRL ladder, two points during the Origin/bye period is crucial.
The Broncos have named their best 17, minus Jharal Yow Yeh and Corey Parker, and the Rabbitohs team is very similar to that of recent weeks, with no Sam Burgess, Matt King or Roy Asotasi.
What caught my eye in the Rabbits lineup is that Andrew Everingham and Justin Hunt have been named in the centres, with Dylan Farrell moving to the wing. Should be a good week to see Hodgo and The Pom get some early ball in the centres to work their magic against two inexperienced players.
Josh McGuire has been moved to lock forward for the Broncos in place of the injured Corey Parker; interesting move considering McGuire has been used solely as a prop in his time in the NRL.
I assume he will effectively play as a third prop, tying up the middle of the field with Petero and Hannant against the large South pack, leaving Thaiday and Glenn to do their usual work on the edges and saving Ben Teo and Matt Gillett as impact players. Maybe we’ll see McGuire do a Paul Gallen, 80 minutes of tough work up the middle?
Queensland selectors will be glued to their televisions for this match, with up to 10 players being looked at. On the Souths side they will be hoping Greg Inglis gets through the match unscathed after his elbow-injury scare last weekend.
Dave Taylor can guarantee his spot with a dominant performance in which he will likely be running opposite Sam Thaiday; a heavyweight match-up worth savouring.
Then there’s Mick Crocker. Sure he hasn’t played Origin for a few years but he’ also one of the most passionate, aggressive Queenslanders running around in the NRL. If Parker can’t make Origin III, and the selectors opt for some change in the forwards, then Crocker should come into the running.
NSW have out-enthused the Queenslanders and have won the fiery exchanges; a 30-minute cameo off the bench from Crocker would definitely see some niggle and clashes with the likes of Greg Bird and Anthony Watmough. He may be down the pecking order but Queensland selectors have surprised before.
Thaiday for the Broncos is in much the same category as Inglis; just get through unscathed. Hodges and Petero should be fit and firing after a week off, while Matt Gillett will be looking for another strong performance to cement his position on the Queensland bench.
The Big Polar Bear has been looking solid in recent weeks and is assured of his Origin spot, but will be looking to get on top of the South pack and assert his class in the middle third.
McGuire was talked about as a smoky for Origin in the early parts of the season, and the selectors will be watching his move to the backrow. McGuire has never been a huge prop, maybe the selectors could look at him as an 80 minute backrower like a Nate Myles or Paul Gallen – capable of playing upfront but used as backrower in the middle of the field.
He has the size and skill of a Myles or a Gallen, so let’s see him turn it into solid 80-minute performances.
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