Untouchable in Brisbane’s crucial 22-12 NRL win over Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, fullback Josh Hoffman was still no match for overzealous Broncos staff as the tricky subject of Ben Barba was mentioned post-match.
Few could put a hand on Hoffman in his man-of-the-match performance that kept alive Brisbane’s faint NRL finals hopes.
But the New Zealand international was still able to be crudely pulled from a post-match media scrum and frog marched out of the dressing rooms by Broncos staff in front of gob smacked reporters just as he addressed the clearly touchy subject of Barba.
Hoffman had plenty to talk about after a display that included one try, 156m, seven tackle busts and two try-saving intercepts – one that left Eels superstar Jarryd Hayne fearing a serious knee injury.
And Barba was another hot post-match topic, after talk he was Broncos-bound became deafening when the Bulldogs superstar admitted he had sought a release from the final two years of his NRL contract in order to be with his Queensland-based family.
But Hoffman’s thoughts on the potential threat of Barba will remain unknown for now after Broncos staff literally pulled him from the interview upon discovering he was speaking to media in the dressing rooms.
“What part of no don’t you understand,” the Broncos staff member said to the media as a reluctant Hoffman left.
It is believed the Broncos staff’s overzealous behaviour was a reaction to a newspaper report on Thursday that claimed Hoffman was playing for his future due to the club’s links with both Barba and Canberra’s Anthony Milford.
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin obviously did not want to be dragged into the Barba speculation either.
“I can’t talk to him. He’s contracted to Canterbury. You’d have to ask (Bulldogs coach) Des (Hasler),” he said.
Griffin added: “Theres’ no one under pressure (to perform).
“Within our four walls we are all content – it’s you guys who aren’t.”
Brisbane – who need to win their final three games to remain in the finals mix – are sweating on the fitness of halfback Ben Hunt (hip) and prop Josh McGuire (knee).
Meanwhile, Eels officials believed Hayne’s knee complaint was “only minor”.
Still, coach Ricky Stuart hoped his makeshift pivot had not aggravated an injury suffered early last year.
“He looked like he panicked and you do that when you have had a bad injury before and feel that you may have reinjured it but hopefully he has only twinged it,” he said.
Stuart took his hat off to Hoffman who coincidentally had been held out of the No.1 Broncos spot by Corey Norman who is bound for Parramatta next year.
These days Norman is languishing in the second tier Queensland Cup due to poor form.
But when asked if Hayne was his long term solution at five-eighth, Stuart said bluntly: “No, it’s Corey Norman”.