Cometh the 80 minutes, cometh Sam Thaiday

Wayne Heming Columnist

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    Sam Thaiday is one of three current players who appeared in a classic Souths vs Broncos match in 2004. (AAP Image/Action Photographics/Colin Whelan)

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    For the second time in a matter of weeks Sam Thaiday faces the massive challenge of rescuing his side.

    This time though it’s his Brisbane Broncos side, and not Queensland leaning heavily on him to inspire a season-saving victory for the club and their worried fans.

    Thaiday produced a dynamic 40 minutes in Origin II at Suncorp Stadium last month, pummelling Blues’ five-eighth James Maloney with several fierce right-side runs.

    His aggression in the early exchanges and his try laid the platform for the 26-6 win, which sent the series into a decider and ultimately delivered coach Mal Meninga his eighth straight series victory since taking on the job in 2006.

    Brisbane need that kind of performance from Thaiday against North Queensland in Townsville tonight.

    Only this time, his prime target will be Queensland teammate and close friend, Johnathan Thurston.

    Thaiday’s return to his back-row, right-edge role means he’ll be gunning for Thurston who last month was exposed defensively by Canberra brute Josh Papalii, something a video-mad Griffin will have noted for this clash.

    Griffin wasn’t about to give away his tactics when it was suggested to him after training on Thursday that Thaiday could replicate Papalii’s tactics and go after JT.

    “Obviously Sam will be up against him but I doubt whether JT is going to be in a similar mood defensively as he was against the Raiders,” said the coach, who confirmed he’d lost prop Ben Hannant (calf) and would start up front with Josh McGuire and Mitchell Dodds.

    “He (Thurston) said publicly he was disappointed with the way he defended (against Papalii) that day.

    “They’re both going to be in on the same side of the field so he’s going to have to tackle Sam a few times but I’m not expecting anything less than his best game out of Johnathan Thurston when we play him.”

    Brisbane did a reasonably good job containing Thurston when they edged out the Cowboys 12-10 earlier this year. The emphasis will again be on limiting his impact and not getting sucked in by his trademark “show and go” play which still fools even the best defenders.

    “We did a pretty good job on him earlier this year and that’s all you can hope to do. He’s a wonderful player, one of the all-time greats,” said Griffin.

    “You have to make sure each time you are defending him, you’re wanting to tackle him and not ball watch on him.

    “We’ve done a lot of work on that this week and hopefully he doesn’t get too many chances.”

    An under-pressure Griffin has belatedly rolled the selection dice, dropping Parramatta-bound Corey Norman to the Queensland Cup and relegating former NSW Origin halfback Peter Wallace to his bench.

    He has pinned his faith in Ben Hunt to add some variety to the halves and Josh Hoffman, who has scored 14 tries on the wing, adding some attacking options from fullback.

    “Ben (Hunt) and Josh (Hoffman) are both fair players,” said Griffin, unconcerned the late changes could unsettle the side.

    “They’re not mugs, they’ve won a lot of games for us in those positions over the last few years.

    Giant youngster Corey “Instant” Oates has secured a spot on the wing, underlining Griffin’s faith in the teenager, who plays in the back-row, to handle the pressure job thrown at him.

    “He’s done everything asked of him,” said Griffin of the club’s brightest young prospect.

    “He’s a young kid who’s got a lot of class. We’re busted in the outside backs with four players on the sidelines.

    “His form and the predicament we’re in have led to us putting him there.

    “He wouldn’t be there if he hadn’t shown us the potential to play first grade.”

    The stakes are at a premium for both clubs tomorrow night, Brisbane struggling in 12th place and North Queensland 13th – both on 16 competition points and three wins out of the top eight with seven games to go until the finals.

    Win tomorrow night and you live to fight another day.

    Lose and start planning for your end-of-season trip and 2014.

    Both club’s seasons may already be over but mathematically they can still make the finals.

    “Everyone is going to lift when you’ve got two sides determined for a win. It’s not rocket science that it’s that time of the year where we need to get going,” said Griffin.

    Meanwhile, Griffin refused to confirm Norman had played his last NRL game for Brisbane before linking with the Eels next season.

    “That’s up to him. We’ve known he was going to Parramatta for a long time and he’s forms been pretty good,” he said.

    “I’ve made a judgement call that we’re better with Josh Hoffman there (fullback).

    “I’m not one to say to Corey ‘that’s it, you’re never going to play (for Brisbane) again’.

    “He’s signed with us until the end of the year and he could play again next week if it suits the team and his form is good.”

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    The Crowd Says (28)

    • Columnist

      July 26th 2013 @ 9:52am
      Ryan O'Connell said | July 26th 2013 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      Whispers that the Broncos are eyeing off Ben Barba, Cameron Smith and/or Karmichael Hunt . . .

      • July 26th 2013 @ 10:06am
        Matt said | July 26th 2013 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        Barba this year hasn’t been much better than Hoffman would have been at fullback.
        Smith would be great, what to do with Mccullough though, he’s good and quite young still.
        Hunt would/should be good, he’s been out of the game for years though.
        Let’s just hope Marshall doesn’t come.
        Widdop would have been a good buy.

        • July 26th 2013 @ 10:47am
          Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          I’d be happy for them to get Barba the guy can score tries in his sleep. Hoffman has scored 14 tries this season it’s hard to knock his form. I agree with McCullough, a real trier who hasn’t gone to the next level and I think Hunt needs to be given his chance in the halves for a season to see if he has got it. He is one player who seems to change the tempo when he comes off the bench.

          • July 26th 2013 @ 11:17am
            Matt said | July 26th 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

            Not this year.
            Take Hayne.
            Outside of half of 2009, he’s certainly not giving much value from the big $ he’s getting.
            Barba had an amazing 2012, and has crashed back to earth in 2013.
            Paying him $600k a year or whatever was rumoured, based on one good year, is risky business.

            • July 26th 2013 @ 11:30am
              Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

              I don’t think Barba has forgotten how to play. The kid has some personal issues and some baggage which a move close to home could help elevate. If he gets his head right he can play some spectacular rugby league in the years to come. It’s whether a club wants to take that gamble I guess. Thanks.

              • July 26th 2013 @ 2:50pm
                ferret said | July 26th 2013 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

                Barba also has one thing NONE of the Broncos (except Hoffman) has – SPEED!!!!
                Even when we make a break our back rowers (sorry wingers) get run down.
                Maranta and Oates as wingers?!?! Really?!? It makes it easy, defensively, for opposing teams as they know they can turn and chase. This doesn’t happen to Mead or Gordon, or Barba!

          • July 26th 2013 @ 2:46pm
            ferret said | July 26th 2013 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

            Wayne, I think EVERYONE, except Hook, has noticed how the Broncos’ attack lifts a bit when Hunt comes off the bench. So can’t understand why he kept him on the bench til the season is “gone”, when it’s been obvious the Wallace / Prince experiment had failed. Hunt was very good in the NYC and I agree that he should be guaranteed some continuity to establish himself. Having said that, is Prince going to be there (as 5/8th) next season or will it be Wallace? If Hook knows who is going to be there he should partner him with Hunt now and let them build for 2014.

            • July 26th 2013 @ 3:51pm
              Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

              ferret. I think Pete Wallace is GOOONE.. and I’ve heard whispers linking Josh McCrone to the Bronocs. I think Hunt at least deserves to play out what is left of the season to see how he handles the pressure and responds if Brisbane’s season is over with little to play for except to show the coach he should have been there before now. I can’t see Prince being 5/8th next year, he’s been running around so long he struggles to threaten defences and his own defence, which is questionable at times, is only going to get worse with age. Stay tuned.

    • Roar Guru

      July 26th 2013 @ 10:26am
      Dogs Of War said | July 26th 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

      With Hannant out, THaiday will move to the front row where he is nowhere near as effective.

      • July 26th 2013 @ 10:43am
        Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Mitchell Dodds is starting in the front-row with Thaiday playing on the right edge where he will come face to face with JT. That will be interesting to watch!!

    • July 26th 2013 @ 10:27am
      Dayer said | July 26th 2013 @ 10:27am | ! Report

      Broncos should go all out to get DUGAN and not Barba and Hunt ….. period. Hope they get Shillo too from the raiders and BENJI.

      And also sack the coach and bring in a coach with attacking skills.

      Go the Broncos

    • July 26th 2013 @ 10:44am
      oikee said | July 26th 2013 @ 10:44am | ! Report

      Complete basketcase, when you have a brilliant second rower like Faiday having to play front row to prop up a struggling fallen club the size of Brisvegas, where you still cant watch a game of NRL on the weekend as there is no footy being played in our heartlands. What a complete shammozzzle this code has gotten itself into.
      As they continue to rape pillage and plunder our heartlands, (New Zealand and Brisbane Queensland, ) our code rots on the vine with little crowds in which you see bigger at a shutting down book sale.

      This codes has allowed and encouraged our heartland clubs to whither, only the NRL would stop our heartlands from expanding and puttting on huge derbies, they would rather play Monday night footy while Origin week is on.
      Mate, this nonsense has to stop, who is going to stop the NRL from killing our code. WHO, Anderson? Dave Smith the Union CEO, or David Gallop who is now sinking the boot well and truely into our code.

      The Broncos are a complete mess, we dont have a spine, we are killing Faiday useing him as a battering Ram, why dont they just move the whole club to Union, it will kill rugby league. It will finish Brisbane.

      • July 26th 2013 @ 12:36pm
        Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

        That’s pretty heavy stuff oikee.. some true too

      • July 26th 2013 @ 2:57pm
        liatrevlis said | July 26th 2013 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        Why do you bother , ? Honestly , 20 rounds of reading your BS and still you manage to come up with more , you need a colonoscopy , a good clean out and a new sport ,

        • July 26th 2013 @ 3:27pm
          Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

          Now that’s not nice. I have feelings you know..

          • July 26th 2013 @ 5:01pm
            liatrevlis said | July 26th 2013 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

            Not you ,,,, oik !

            • July 26th 2013 @ 5:11pm
              Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

              Oh, thank heavens. Yeah he is a little “extreme”

    • July 26th 2013 @ 4:43pm
      Benny said | July 26th 2013 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

      what a joke the broncos have become. For years they have claimed that their all about signing and trying players locally and have refused too buy big name playmakers. Such arrogance too ignore at the time potential broncos superstars who are now playing at other clubs who have become extremely successful because of the broncos stupidity! Now were looking at our worst year with the worst half combination in pretty much the whole comp bar parramatta. They persisted for years with peter wallace, corey norman (apparent next darren lockyer) ben hunt, andrew mc, last year gerard beale and this year the most unwanted half in the comp in scott prince and lost a next big local in corey norman as a result of that dud buy! And too top it all of they now spend 1million for the next 3 seasons from some two bit prop who nearly made origin! Rant over

    • July 26th 2013 @ 4:50pm
      oikee said | July 26th 2013 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

      When Matty Johns is writing the same as i have been saying now all year, you know the code is in deep trouble.
      Am i the only one who can see that if the code keeps going down this path, we will be defunct in 12 months.
      This code has got to allow our powerhouse clubs to shine, before it is too late.
      This is serious, i am not joking. Brisbane are close to life support.
      I have them in the basketcase now, no spine, no 1 ,6 , 7 , or nine, we have a nine that is living off Lockyers home town reputation.

      • July 26th 2013 @ 5:02pm
        liatrevlis said | July 26th 2013 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

        Oh yeah there’s credibility , Matt johns ,,, ha a ha

      • July 26th 2013 @ 5:13pm
        Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

        I will be sure to pass on your concerns Mr Oik.

      • July 26th 2013 @ 5:20pm
        Wayne Heming said | July 26th 2013 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

        McCullough grew up in Dalby while Locky grew up in Roma… they are some 300 kilometres apart Oikee.

        • July 26th 2013 @ 5:57pm
          oikee said | July 26th 2013 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

          Ok, just up the road, 300 kilometres is a short stroll in these parts.
          We use to play footy out their on the weekends, just up the road to Dalby or Roma, Rockhampton was a nice road trip.

          No matter, Mcullock is not the answer in the hooker role, if he was we would not be talking about Cam Smith, read between the lines.
          We have not got a spine, is this the way a so-called powerhouse club is run, without a spine, let itself rot into the earth with little to show, not even a spine.
          I have never seen such a weak team in my life. The Clydesdales here in Toowoomba have a better spine.

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