Broncos' open auditions for No.6
Lewis. Lockyer. Strasser?
There are few more decorated jerseys in the NRL than the Broncos' No.6 and Zach Strasser is the latest to be groomed for the throne, handed first crack at five-eighth in Saturday night's trial against the Cowboys.
Perhaps fortuitously for Strasser, the match will be played at Redcliffe's Dolphin Oval, the ground he has called home for the past two seasons having foregone a scholarship with the Storm to complete an electrical apprenticeship.
Despite having Petero Civoniceva in their ranks the Dolphins failed to qualify for last year's Intrust Super Cup semi-finals but Broncos coach Anthony Griffin saw enough from Strasser to offer the 21-year-old sparkie a shot at the big time.
At 182 centimetres and 90 kilograms Strasser is both taller and heavier than Lockyer in his many heydays and will split the five-eighth duties on Saturday night with Jordan Kahu as Griffin looks to settle on a halves partner for Ben Hunt.
"They're all up for grabs but that one's obviously open," Griffin said of the battle for the five-eighth spot for Round 1. "It's a good opportunity tomorrow night for Strasser and Kahu and [Kodi] Nikorima in the halves to get some game time.
"It's for the first time, particularly for Strasser and Nikorima, that they will have played at that level so it will be good to see how they handle that.
"[Zach] has worked very hard, and so has young Kodi, they haven't missed a mark in their conditioning and they're building into their ball-work well and tomorrow night is a good chance to see how they're going.
"They'll roll through the halves those three. Jordy will start at fullback but he'll come into the five-eighth role at some stage."
Strasser and Nikorima – a graduate of the Broncos under-20s team from last season – have earned their shot at an NRL debut due to their commitment throughout a punishing pre-season under new strength and conditioning coach Alex Corvo.
Their reward is a clash with the Cowboys who boast regular first-graders in Robert Lui, Lachlan Coote, Kane Linnett, Ashton and Tariq Sims and Jason Taumalolo.
"We've brought in some second-tier guys like [Daniel] Vidot and [Stewart] Mills but in particular it's those younger guys like Strasser and Nikorima and guys that are emerging like [Jarrod] Wallace and [David] Hala that have had really good pre-seasons," Griffin said.
"Tomorrow night's just an opportunity for them to personally get out there and peel off a game and give us a look at them at that level. The Cowboys have picked a very strong side so it's going to be a really good trial for us to gauge where some of those guys are at."
The trial will mark the return of Jharal Yow Yeh to the Broncos team while new recruits Daniel Vidot, Stewart Mills, Todd Lowrie and Jon Green will have their first game for Brisbane.
One new signing who may not be there is prop forward Martin Kennedy, who missed Friday's training session with a stomach bug and will be assessed before taking his place. Should Kennedy be ruled out, either Jarrod Wallace or David Hala will come into the starting forward pack.