Round 10: Broncos v Roosters preview
Broncos eye consistency against in-form premiers
Claiming an important victory during Magic Round to temporarily silence their critics, the Brisbane Broncos will be looking to post back-to-back wins against a Sydney Roosters side chasing nine wins on the trot.
Getting the better of the Sea Eagles in a hard-fought affair, 26-10, last Friday, Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold will be keen for his side to make amends following a dismal showing at the Sydney Cricket Ground back in April, while navigating further changes to his roster brought on by injuries and a shrewd mid-season signing.
Missing most of last season with shoulder and sternum issues, representative centre Jack Bird looks set to be sidelined with a torn ACL for the remainder of the season, bringing about a backline reshuffle that sees Jamayne Isaako recalled and Gehamat Shibasaki preferred ahead of James Roberts at centre.
Stuck in NRL purgatory due to contract difficulties and Cronulla's preference towards the Brailey brothers, former Dally M Hooker of the Year, James Segeyaro, will likely come into the final 17 for his club debut, as part of a plan to work in tandem with Jake Turpin to fill the dummy half void created by Andrew McCullough's injury absence.
Winning their past five clashes against the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium, including an epic 28-22 tussle nearly a year to the day ago, the Broncos will be aware of the threat posed by the reigning premiers irrespective of the players unavailable through injury.
Holding off a late rally by the Raiders last Sunday to claim their eighth win in a row, the Sydney Roosters will achieve a rare feat on Friday night by becoming the first non-Brisbane team to play consecutive fixtures at Suncorp Stadium.
Establishing a dominant lead early in the second half only to emerge with a narrow 30-24 victory as a result of a trio of injuries throughout the match, coach Trent Robinson has been forced to draw upon his reserves with captain Boyd Cordner ruled out and doubts surrounding the fitness of Daniel Tupou and Latrell Mitchell.
Naming Mitchell Aubusson to fill Cordner's place in the second row, Lindsay Collins comes onto the bench, while English superstar winger Ryan Hall could be a late inclusion for his club debut after being named as part of the extended squad for the first time this season.
With clashes between the two sides being fiercely fought since coach Robinson's appointment six years ago, the Roosters will be hoping to extend a slender lead that has seen the Eastern Suburbs club win seven of the past 13 fixtures opposite their 2000 grand final foes.
Who to watch: Making an eye-catching debut in the corresponding fixture last season, Kotoni Staggs will be eager to demonstrate the strides taken since being elevated to the starting side under Anthony Seibold. Set to be the beneficiary of Jack Bird's season-ending injury, the 20-year-old Indigenous All Stars representative showed plenty of class to assist in the side's first try against Manly, while proving himself to be a capable goal-kicking alternative to Jamayne Isaako. Earmarked for further representative honours in the coming weeks with Tonga keen on his services for the test against the Kiwis, look for Staggs to cause the Roosters plenty of trouble on Friday night as the Broncos strive to post consecutive wins for the first time in 2019.
All but assured to make his Origin debut for New South Wales next month, Luke Keary will be out to make it impossible for Brad Fittler to overlook him with another dominant performance on Friday night. Performing to a standard few thought him capable of to claim the Clive Churchill Medal in last year's premiership win, the 27-year-old five-eighth has made a strong case to be considered the best player in the game based on his start to the year, with his ability to produce try-assists and repeat sets securing the Roosters an equal share of the competition lead. Set to be targeted by the Broncos rampaging youngsters, expect to see Keary stand up in defence while remaining at his dangerous best with the ball in hand.
The favourite: Sitting atop the premiership ladder alongside the Rabbitohs, the Roosters are expected to have too much class for a Broncos outfit lacking the experience to go the distance against the reigning premiers.