FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett has pulled his first selection surprise of the season naming representative fullback Karmichael Hunt at halfback for Friday night's National Rugby League season opener against the Cowboys.
Hunt will wear the No.7 jumper in a bid to combat the threat of North Queensland's chief playmaker Johnathan Thurston who played his way into the Australian halfback job in last year's Tri Nations series.
Bennett has named centre Justin Hodges at fullback where he played so well for Brisbane in last year's grand final win over Melbourne.
Promising youngster Joel Moon finds himself thrust into the centres to cover for Hodges while grand final halfback Shane Perry has been relegated to the bench.
Hunt played several trials at halfback in the 2006 pre-season before Bennett plucked Perry from Redcliffe and handed him a shock starting role.
He has trained at halfback this week and again filled in there on Tuesday when Brisbane went behind locked gates at Suncorp Stadium for a private session to rehearse moves for Friday night's clash.
As expected, Dane Carlaw has assumed retired prop Shane Webcke's No.8 jumper in the front-row with Shaun Berrigan the starting hooker.
Origin and Test forward Sam Thaiday will be used as an impact player off the bench.
Former St George recruit Michael Ennis has been left disappointed again after failing to force his way into Bennett's 17-man squad.
Ennis, the starting hooker last year before suffering a season ending knee injury, tried desperately but unsuccessfully to get back for last year's finals.
Brisbane Broncos: Justin Hodges, Steve Michaels, Brent Tate, Joel Moon, Darius Boyd, Darren Lockyer(c), Karmichael Hunt, Dane Carlaw, Shaun Berrigan, Petero Civoniceva, Corey Parker, Brad Thorn, Tonie Carroll. Interchange: Sam Thaiday, Ben Hannant, Greg Eastwood, Shane Perry.