Hard-hitting Napa has Broncos on red alert
Broncos back-rower Sam Thaiday has felt the sting of a Dylan Napa shot and concedes he'll endeavour to steer clear of the Roosters hitman when the two teams meet in a Friday night blockbuster at Suncorp Stadium.
With Aidan Guerra suffering a fractured jaw in Sunday's shock 20-12 loss to the Sharks, Napa is in line for a spot in the Roosters' starting side for just the 12th time in his 37-game career to date.
Fast becoming renowned as one of the hardest hitters in the NRL, Napa will be a key figure in a Roosters forward pack searching for redemption and is someone Thaiday admits the Broncos ball carriers have been well advised to steer clear of.
"Auckland Nines last year, probably the first kick-off, he almost put me to sleep," Thaiday recalled. "He's going to be someone I probably steer away from in the defensive line on the weekend.
"He's got a big frame on him, he's got that fiery red hair and he's got cannonballs for shoulders that just go through players.
"He's one of their forwards that we've earmarked to try and run to the side of him and not straight at him.
"He's a good player, a great defender and I'm glad he's a Queenslander as well. He'll only boost our stocks later on down the track.
"The Sharks didn't do us any favours by beating them. They're going to come up here very angry and aggressive and they've got some big boys in the middle and it's going to be a tough old battle."
In more than 300 NRL games Corey Parker has felt the brunt of some of the hardest hitters the game has ever known and while reluctant to put Napa into that 'hardest hitter' category after less than 40 first grade games said he is certainly a defender who packs a punch.
"Guerra's going to be a big loss for them. He's a quality player and they're going to have to fill a void on that edge and Dylan Napa is a guy that can do that," said Parker, who has scored 50 points in 13 previous clashes with the Roosters.
"He's a big guy, he plays hard and tough and aggressive and I'd expect no different from him on Friday night.
"He's got a great technique and some great body awareness but there are a handful of guys out there that are in that category."
With 35 Origin matches for Queensland between them, Thaiday and Parker are well qualified to endorse the next generation of Maroons forwards and have ear-marked Napa as an Origin player of the future.
With Game One of the Origin Series still six weeks away Guerra is likely to be fully fit and available for selection but there still may be room for a player such as Napa.
From the team that won Game Three last year Ben Te'o has left to play rugby and Dave Taylor has gotten off to a slow start to the season with the Titans, and Thaiday admitted that there is a growing need to usher in young forwards into the Maroons' mix.
"We're getting kind of old as Queensland forwards. There's myself and Nate Myles, Matty Scott, we're all losing our hair and getting a bit long in the tooth so having these guys like Napa, this next generation, I'm sure Mal is already looking to blood a couple and see how they go," said Thaiday. "With Aidan Guerra out as well I'm sure he'll be tossed up in the mix."
Added Parker: "If the selectors deem him to be ready I'm sure he'll be able to thrive in that arena. He's certainly playing well enough to do so. He's big enough and he's aggressive enough so the ball is in his court and then in turn the selectors'."