Cowboys ready to cover Origin stars
Cowboys coach Paul Green is confident his group of young forwards is ready to perform as they replace the likes of veterans Matt Scott and James Tamou during the Origin period starting next week.
In preparation for the team's routine state of damage control at this time of year, Green has continued previous weeks' trend to blood his young forwards, naming Rockhampton junior Sam Hoare this week.
Blockbusting second-rower Kelepi Tanginoa played his third game of the season against the Bulldogs, while Townsville junior Ben Spina made his season debut.
Green is pleased at the number of players he is exposed to top grade, and says the more the merrier moving forward.
"That's probably the really pleasing things about the job is when you give young guys an opportunity and see them step up," Green said on Tuesday.
"It's really satisfying as a coach. You're just happy for the players that they have taken the opportunity.
"We're lucky in that area, we have a number of guys who can do that at the moment and we're going to need those guys over the next couple of weeks."
Injuries to Jason Taumalolo and Scott Bolton have been a blessing in disguise for Green's younger charges, who have gained valuable top-grade experience where they otherwise would not have.
While John Asiata is now starting in place of Jason Taumalolo, who is considered one of the game's most damaging forwards, Green is stressing the value of autonomy in his players rather than asking them to mould their games.
"They are different players and it's important that whoever you bring into the team, it's important they don't try and replace the guy he has come into the team for," Green said.
"It's important that they play their own game. Johnny (Asiata) plays with plenty of skill, he's got a nice pre-line pass in him."
Veteran prop Ben Hannant is in charge of leading the way for that group of inexperienced forwards over the next phase of the season after playing arguably his best game as a Cowboy on Saturday, working for 131 metres and 23 tackles off the bench.
He will be in line for a few personal battles against his old club this week, but Green says his job is bigger than just his own performance.
"With losing Scott Bolton and Jason Taumalolo we needed guys like Benny to step up and I thought he did that well (on Saturday) and he'll need to do it again for us this week," Green said.
Green admits his side will have a tricky battle through the middle against Brisbane on Friday night, with the side trying to get the balance right between size and defensive coverage.
"I think we probably missed a bigger body there last week in particular against the Bulldogs," he said of Hoare's inclusion.
"But the Broncos play with a bit more speed (than the Bulldogs). They are certainly looking to generate some quick play the balls so their quick blokes can play off the back of it.
"They're one of the form teams in the comp, you don't fluke leading the NRL competition. They have got 'Hodgo' there as well so there are plenty of threats across the park and we'll have to be on our game."