Bennett's search for dummy-half spark
One week into the 2015 Telstra Premiership and Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has turned to a rookie in order to help his side win the ruck battle against the Sharks in Cronulla on Friday night.
While Bennett attributed the lack of impact of first-choice hooker Andrew McCullough to the class of South Sydney last Thursday night the addition of Kodi Nikorima to the Broncos bench brings a new dimension to the Brisbane attack.
In the first of his regular weekly videos for NRL.com, former Warriors coach Matthew Elliott pin-pointed McCullough's ineffectiveness from dummy-half as a key factor in Brisbane's 36-6 loss to the Rabbitohs.
While South Sydney hooker Issac Luke had 19 runs for 98 metres, McCullough made just 19 metres from three runs from dummy-half in his 65 minutes and rarely engaged the South Sydney markers, although he did make a game-high 53 tackles.
All told the Broncos made 73 metres from dummy-half compared to the Rabbitohs' 141m and while Luke and McCullough are very different styles of hookers, Elliott said it is imperative for the Broncos No.9 to pose some questions to the opposition's defence around the ruck area.
"Issac Luke had a great day at dummy-half, really asking a lot of questions of the Brisbane middles," said Elliott. "Not only was he included in a lot of very effective attacking play he also took a lot of steam out of the middle.
"Andrew McCullough on the other hand had under 10 carries for under 50 metres. He's asking no questions of the South Sydney middle who are a big group of men who needed to be worn down. It was a big factor in this game.
"The Broncos team at the end of this game in the middle in particular had been pulled apart and allowed Souths to score tries on the edge."
Having played largely in the halves and at fullback in the under-20s competition, Nikorima was used off the bench against Wigan in the World Club Series where he ran for 24 metres in 25 minutes in difficult conditions.
Nikorima's defence will be fully tested by the big Sharks forwards but Bennett was his beautifully succinct self when quizzed as to what he likes about the New Zealand-born 20-year-old.
"He's fast," was Bennett's simple response.
"Kodi brings different things which I'm hopeful will help us and that's the idea of putting him in there."
As he prepares to play his 150th game for the club, Bennett was quick to defend McCullough, saying that momentum in the ruck area determines a hooker's influence, not the other way around.
"You've got to understand that they're a very good team that we played last week and we're trying to be one of those. We're a work in progress and that's the gap between both sides, we're trying to bridge that gap," Bennett said.
"South Sydney were pretty good defensively in that area there and they controlled a lot of it so you don't get a lot of opportunities. It's about opportunities.
"Kodi has got the speed to get out of there which is a bit of a plus and hopefully we can make it work."