Broncos to let young halves run free
The most senior member of the Broncos squad has backed the freedom of youth to inspire a Brisbane revival starting with Friday night's clash with the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.
Although the puzzle of who will partner halfback Ben Hunt in the Brisbane halves remains unsolved for at least a few more hours, co-captain Corey Parker believes an unburdened 19-year-old is ready to step into one of the NRL's most famous jerseys.
Young Kiwi playmaker Kodi Nikorima has impressed in each of the three pre-season hit-outs to date and is almost certain to be named as the latest Broncos five-eighth when the side is officially announced on Tuesday afternoon.
While he remains eligible for the under-20s competition for a further season, Parker said that the injection of youth may be just what the club requires as they look to bounce back from the worst season in the club's history.
"The best thing about young guys is that they play footy for what it is and they don't seem to worry too much about external pressures and what's going on," Parker said. "If [Nikorima] was to be put into the first grade team for Round 1 I'm sure he'd do a good job like he's done the last two times in the trials.
"We all got to see Kodi play in the Nines and that style of football suited him and he's certainly impressed.
"He's only a young guy and his brother's on board now too training with the first grade squad so there is plenty of football ahead for those guys. I'm sure if they get the opportunity to play in the near future they'll do a good job."
In addition to blooding a new No.6, the season opener will also mark the first time that Ben Hunt has been named as Broncos halfback for a Round 1 encounter in six years in the top grade.
Up until Round 20 last season, Hunt had started at halfback in just six of 82 NRL games across five seasons but Parker insists he has developed even further since wearing the No.7 jersey for the final seven games of 2013.
"He's been playing off the bench for us for a period of time and last year he got an opportunity to play seven and I think you can all see what kind of attacking ability he bought," Parker said.
"He was very direct and he steered us around quite nice so he'll get an opportunity at the beginning of this year and hopefully he can build on that.
"A fair bit goes through the No.7 in the modern game and he's got the opportunity and role for leading us around and he's taken that really seriously.
"In the off-season he's trained really hard – as most guys have – but he's starting to take on that role of what a seven really is about."