Maranta firms as Oates replacement
Lachlan Maranta is looming as a shock replacement for injured Broncos teammate Corey Oates.
The Broncos flyer injured his left wrist during pre-season training and a return this week would mark an eight-week recovery time – two weeks faster than expected.
Maranta trained away from the his teammates on Monday, partaking in high intensity sprints and agility work.
Despite training separately from the main squad, the 23-year-old appeared confident he would be back in Brisbane's 17 as he told media that he is a good chance to start in Saturday's match against the Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium.
Maranta's selection would severely hamper English recruit Greg Eden's hopes of reclaiming a wing spot after the 25-year-old was dropped last week to accommodate the inclusions of Jordan Kahu and Jack Reed.
Teammate Darius Boyd says he is hopeful Maranta may return ahead of schedule.
"Hopefully, I think he might have been due back this week but I'm not too sure of who's hurt but there will be a fair few options this week," Boyd said.
If Maranta is to return early it wouldn't be the first time coach Wayne Bennett has rushed players back into the Broncos' starting 17.
Kahu and Reed both returned well ahead of schedule for Brisbane's Round 2 clash with the New Zealand Warriors and it paid dividends with both getting through 80 minutes unscathed, playing vital roles in the Broncos' 25-10 win.
Kahu echoed Boyd's thoughts; impressed with the work Maranta is putting in behind the scenes.
"I haven't head anything official but I saw him running and putting it in at training today. I've seen how hard he's been working to get back out there and he really wants to play." Kahu said.
"Everyone's itching to play for this team because they know how good a team it is. Everyone wants to be a part of it."
Despite Maranta's likely inclusion, Corey Oates is a huge loss for the Broncos, arguably Brisbane's best player throughout the first two rounds of the NRL season.
Whoever replaces Oates will have big shoes to fill with the 21-year-old having amassed 333 run metres, two tries and four line breaks already this season.
Kahu says Oates' ability to break the defensive line will be sorely missed against Penrith.
"He's a massive loss for us," Kahu said.
"If the forwards see us back three bringing back hard it gives them a bit more enthusiasm to run a bit harder. He always does that and gets our sets off to a great start.
"He showed it on the weekend when he somehow made it out of the in-goal a couple of times. You don't want to have too many dropouts because they let teams in. It gives teams an opportunity to attack your line so what he did was massive for us. The fact he did it twice shows how good he is."