The Broncos need Martin Kennedy to have an immediate influence up front to match the monster packs throughout the NRL. Copyright: Fiona Goodall/NRL Photos
Glenn Lazarus, Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva were the rocks on which Broncos premierships were built and Sam Thaiday believes Martin Kennedy brings the muscle Brisbane needs to be a powerhouse again.
Speaking at the extension of the partnership between the Broncos and Institute for Urban Indigenous Health that endeavours to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders to make 'Deadly Choices' with regards to their health, Thaiday backed Kennedy to play the type of football that had him on the verge of Queensland selection while at the Roosters.
Although the return of Ben Barba to face the Bulldogs will dominate the build-up to the Broncos' season-opener next Friday, Thaiday believes matching it with the likes of James Graham, Sam Kasiano and Aiden Tolman will be just as crucial.
"I think he's trying to find his feet and where he's at in the team," Thaiday said of Kennedy. "He's a big boy and I'm sure the move back home for him is going to be a good one once he finds his feet.
"A couple of years ago they were talking him up to play Origin and I think he can get back to that form. He trains very, very hard, he's one of our best trainers and I'm sure that hard work in training is going to pay off for him.
"Playing another big pack – we've just come off a trial match against the Warriors – we need all the size we can get. Josh McGuire is not a huge front-rower, Benny Hannant's not a huge front-rower either compared to the Sam Kasianos and those types of players so we do need our own 120-kilo front-rower, which is Marty Kennedy, and we need him firing."
Conceding 80 points in two trial games is less than an ideal preparation but Thaiday is adamant that the Broncos should be only judged on what they deliver in Round 1 and beyond, ridiculing criticism of coach Anthony Griffin.
"We haven't even started yet! Give him a bit of a break," Thaiday urged the assembled media. "We all back him 100 per cent and we're right behind him. I know personally, I'm pumped to play the Bulldogs in Round 1, another Friday night match and Friday nights are what the Broncos love.
"We're not worried at all. Round 1 is in a couple of weeks and then we're playing for two points every week. I'm sure that over this next week and a half how we prepare for that first match is going to be vital to our performance but everyone's going to be up and ready for it."
Thaiday stars alongside Broncos great Steve Renouf in a series of new commercials for the 'Deadly Choices' health initiative directed by Wayne Blair of "The Sapphires" and "Redfern Now" fame and remains committed to improving the life expectancy of indigenous and Torres Strait islander people.
As a relatively new father and with parents who have both endured issues with their health, Thaiday is only too happy to use his influence to encourage better choices.
"Both my parents have diabetes and seeing many, many of my family members pass away through health issues that can be prevented so this is something that is very close to my heart," Thaiday said.
"The beauty of being a rugby league player is that we're very popular in the indigenous community and it makes it a whole lot easier to get that message across.
"It's not just myself, there are a lot of other players, Jharal Yow Yeh and Josh Hoffman who go out in communities and help spread this message.
"Numbers don't lie. People are showing up, people are getting health checks, people are changing their lives and that's what we wanted to do."
For more information on the Deadly Choices program click here.