The Roosters have lost Billy Smith to a minor hamstring injury for the Broncos clash on Sunday in Las Vegas. Joseph Suaalii will move…
There are two vacancies in Brisbane’s forward pack and new signing Fletcher Baker hopes to fill one of them before playing his former club Sydney Roosters in Las Vegas.
The Broncos have lost props Thomas Flegler, to the Dolphins, and Keenan Palasia to Gold Coast from the side that suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Penrith in the NRL grand final.
The 23-year-old Baker played 46 games for the Roosters in three seasons, most of them off the bench, but has arrived at the Broncos at just the right time to stake a claim for a top-17 position in the front row.
He will have competition with proven performers Martin Taupau and Corey Jensen, along with tyro prop Xavier Willison, all in the running to fill the vacancies left by Flegler and Palasia.
“Keenan and Flegler … they are good players. I look at the team they were this year and I think their football complements me,” Baker said.
“I like to play in support, ball-play and get quick play-the-balls.
“If you can do that off (representative forwards) Payne Haas and Pat Carrigan and with all the pretty boys at the back … t’s great footy.
“To play alongside the crew that they have got in the forwards…it’s incredible. I want to get my best pre-season in and make an impression. I want to be in that team.”
While bigger names like Farnworth and Flegler, Stephen Crichton at Canterbury, Roger Tuivasa returning to the Warriors, Jack Wighton at Souths and new Roosters duo Spencer Leniu and Dominic Young will command more headlines, Baker could be an extremely valuable pick-up for Brisbane, operating as the next cab off the rank following behind the Payne Haas-Patrick Carrigan one-two middle forward punch.
The Broncos will play the Roosters in Las Vegas to kick off the season in March.
“That would be a good milestone for me. Touch wood, hopefully I get there,” he said.
Baker said he had interest from several clubs but in the end it was a choice between staying at the Roosters or venturing north.
“I love the Roosters and it was sad to leave the nest but I love the footy up here. It is a young crew and it is exciting,” he said.
The heat and humidity of Brisbane is taxing but Baker started pre-season training on his own early to get volume in his legs.
“I am glad I did because today was a punch in the face with the heat. I struggled to get through it,” he said after Monday’s session in oppressive conditions.