Matt Harris, Queensland Correspondent
Broncos flyer Dale Copley looks set to be handed another chance to enhance his bargaining power in contract discussions after Jack Reed suffered an ankle injury playing for Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup on Sunday.
The Northern Pride maintained their surge to a second straight minor premiership with a 52-18 shellacking of Norths but the injury to Reed just prior to half-time looks set to have greatest ramifications for Copley and the Brisbane Broncos.
Reed was one of three players dropped for disciplinary reasons from the Broncos team named to play the Warriors on Saturday night and Copley made the most of his shift from the right wing to left centre.
Copley's two tries late in the second half turned a 22-18 deficit into a 28-22 victory for the home side and the injury to a defensively-superior Reed may give coach Anthony Griffin little option but to stick with the 22-year-old against the Storm on Friday night, even if the Aspley junior suspects otherwise.
"I think it was just this week. I'm tipping all those guys will be back next week provided they get through injury free this week," Copley said following his performance and somewhat prophetically.
"It was good being in the centres again, having a bit more room and a bit more ball – I enjoyed it.
"That's the position I played for most of my juniors so it was good to get back there, I felt pretty comfortable there. Obviously I've still got plenty to work on but I'm happy overall.
"So while I did enjoy it, I think it will be a short-term thing at the moment."
Having sat out the entire 2013 season due to a knee injury, Copley has been one of the shining lights for Brisbane this season with 14 tries from 17 appearances, seeing him sit equal second on the NRL try-scoring tally just one try behind Eels' winger Semi Radradra.
However, the part-time law student's future remains unclear as he is off-contract at season's end. Copley wouldn't discuss his future after his match-winning display on Saturday, instead putting the teams' interests above his own.
"I feel like I'm a selfless player and I'll do what the team needs," Copley said in regard to his positional shift.
"There were three really good players sitting on the bench that couldn’t contribute to us but I think some of our best wins this year have been those where we've been down on Origin players and had injuries.
"This is a really high-character group that we've got here at the moment and I think that showed through. We had three losses in a row there and haven’t been great at home this year, so it's pretty vital we got that win."
Although Copley didn’t rate the 209 metres, two tries and four line breaks he made against the Warriors as the best performance of his career, his coach, who described him as a player of "untapped potential" at the beginning of the season, was more complimentary.
"Dale's a great attacking player," Griffin said. "He had a sensational game when he played right centre against (Manly's) [Steve] Matai that day too.
"We probably missed Jack's defence on that edge a little bit at times, but Dale will learn and it was a terrific attacking display by him particularly in that second half."