PANTHER PRIDE | A big win for the mountain men tonight has them firmly entrenched in the top eight, ...
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Champion Brisbane five-eighth Darren Lockyer could again be spared the heat of an expected fiery opening in Friday night's Good Friday NRL showdown with the Sydney Roosters.
Brisbane received a considerable boost before heading to Sydney on Thursday with prop Ben Hannant breezing through a fitness test on his Achilles-related injury.
With prop Joel Clinton and goal kicking back-rower Corey Parker both out of action for a month with knee injuries, Hannant's inclusion will help Brisbane's pack cope with the fire of a Willie Mason-Mark O'Meley led Roosters onslaught.
"It felt good out there, I didn't really feel it at all, I'll be fine," said Hannant.
Assistant coach Ivan Henjak said a decision on whether to repeat last weekend's tactic of bringing Lockyer into the game after 20 minutes would be made in Sydney on Friday before kick off.
"Lockyer is such a great player, he reads things so well and he gives the team so much confidence when he's out there," said Henjak.
"Having said that, the first 20 minutes of our game last week was the best I've seen a team handle life without Locky.
"They did a really good job while he wasn't there but when he came on he certainly added the extra things he can do."
Asked if he could come off the bench again Henjak said "we'll make that decision tomorrow".
Lockyer, who this week said he could extend his representative career beyond 2008 following a long lay-off with injury, was non-committal about his role saying only: "It's a possibility".
Brisbane will use line speed in defence to get up and into Mason and O'Meley, a tactic which has worked well previously.
"We don't want to be giving them easy yards and letting their momentum get you early so we'll have to have good line speed and numbers in tackles," Henjak said.
Brisbane's forward injuries have opened up opportunities for props Nick Kenny and Dave Taylor, who responded positively to being sent back to the Queensland Cup last weekend when he led the Comets to a win with two block-busting tries.
Henjak shed some light on Taylor's omission from the Penrith game indicating the big teenager needed to work on his mental attitude.
"What Dave has to get over, and it's a real hurdle for him, is the mental side of things," he said.
"He has to get mentally tough and make sure there's no lazy plays in him and that he is playing positively when he's out there and contributing to the team.
"You get found out at this level if you're lazy or don't turn up to play.
"Dave has to earn his stripes and cement his place in the team and that's a big challenge for him."
Kenny was close to playing against Penrith and Henjak said it was "D Day" for the Rockhampton forward.
"Nick Kenny was probably a bit unlucky not to be in the side last week and I'm sure he can do the job," he said.
"He's been waiting a long time for his chance and this is a good opportunity for him to take his claim because he'll be here for a few weeks I would say."