Jem Nash previews a match that could get very ugly as the struggling Broncos take on the high-flying Panthers at Suncorp Stadium.
It’s been said over and over again, but the Broncos are in all sorts. They’re not yet on the bottom of the ladder, but they are clearly the worst side in the competition. They were never in the match last week as the Roosters manhandled them in a massive 58-12 smashing. One bright spot for the Broncos has been the emergence of Kotoni Staggs, who is a superstar in the making. Aside from his rise, there hasn’t been many positives for the club to take out of 2020.
It was a bit of a slow start for the Panthers last weekend as they conceded their first points inside the opening 20 minutes since round one. They gave up the first try, but from there it was all Panthers as they cruised home to a 30-6 win against the Tigers. They’re the best side in the NRL right now and a win on Thursday against the Broncos will have them holding on firmly to the minor premiership.
1 Darius Boyd 2 Corey Oates 3 Kotoni Staggs 4 Herbie Farnworth 5 Richard Kennar 6 Sean O’Sullivan 7 Tom Dearden 8 Payne Haas 9 Isaac Luke 10 Rhys Kennedy 11 David Fifita 12 Ben Te’o 13 Patrick Carrigan 14 Cory Paix 15 Jordan Riki 16 Ethan Bullemor 17 Jamil Hopoate 18 Jesse Arthars 19 Pride Petterson-Robati 20 Tyson Gamble 21 Brodie Croft.
Payne Haas returns for the suspended Joe Ofahengaue, while Corey Oates also comes back into the side on the wing, pushing Herbie Farnworth into the centres with Jordan Kahu out of the side. Isaac Luke is also back at hooker, with Cory Paix moving back to the bench and Brodie Croft out of the 17.
1 Dylan Edwards 2 Josh Mansour 3 Brent Naden 4 Stephen Crichton 5 Brian To’o 6 Jarome Luai 7 Nathan Cleary 8 James Tamou 9 Mitch Kenny 10 Moses Leota 11 Viliame Kikau 12 Liam Martin 13 James Fisher-Harris 14 Tyrone May 15 Spencer Leniu 16 Kurt Capewell 17 Zane Tetevano 18 Apisai Koroisau 19 Billy Burns 20 Matt Burton 21 Pat Hollis.
Viliame Kikau returns from suspension, while Isaah Yeo is out after suffering a concussion last week. James Fisher-Harris will slot in at lock, with Moses Leota named in the starting side. Kurt Capewell makes his long-awaited return from injury, taking Billy Burns’ spot on the bench.
The Broncos have by far the worst points difference in the NRL, with -301, while the Panthers only sit behind the Storm and the Roosters with a positive difference of 206.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Stephen Crichton vs Kotoni Staggs
If the Broncos are able to take anything away from the 2020 season, it’s the emergence of Staggs. He has been one of the few bright spots and is firmly in the conversation for a State of Origin debut at the end of the year. His speed has been on show over the last few weeks and if the Broncos are able to get him early ball he can do some damage.
He will go head-to-head with one of the best young players in the competition right now in Stephen Crichton. The 19-year-old centre is tied first in the competition with 14 tries so far in 2020, and his combination with Viliame Kikau and Josh Mansour on the left edge has been devastating for most teams this season.
Both the Broncos and Panthers will look to get these young stars as much ball as possible and both could have a big impact on how this game plays out.
Panthers by 20.
Date: Thursday, September 3.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium.