Baby Broncos stand up
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has praised his inexperienced interchange bench after Saturday's 30-6 win over Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Suncorp Stadium.
The absence of regular starters Alex Glenn, Andrew McCullough and Adam Blair meant that Bennett was forced into picking his youngest bench line-up this year.
20-year-old Jai Arrow debuted for the club, accompanying fellow 20-year-old Joe Ofahengaue, Herman Ese'ese (21) and Kodi Nikorima (22) on Brisbane's bench.
Heading into Round 10, the youthful quartet had just 55 career NRL games between them, with Nikorima's 29 the most out of the group.
Bennett couldn't contain his pride in his young forwards post-match, applauding their performance in Brisbane's comprehensive victory.
"It was a good team effort by the boys tonight. All the interchange boys did well, the oldest one was only 22," said Bennett.
"Yeah I'm happy with Joe and I'm happy with Herman. It's a process and it takes time. They're getting opportunities to play some footy and they got that opportunity tonight.
"We're not going to see the best of those boys for another 12 or 18 months. We're investing this time into them and they're doing everything right.
"They have great attitudes and bring all the things we need. They are a big part of our future."
The workload of Bennett's most inexperienced players is only going to increase heading into the State of Origin period, with the Broncos looking at losing up to seven players on State duties.
The front row reshuffle will likely see 24-year-old prop Jarrod Wallace in a starting role, something he got a taste of in Brisbane's win over the Sea Eagles.
Originally an impact forward off the bench, the Broncos recent injury and suspension woes have given the 108kg prop the chance to prove his worth as a starting front-rower.
Wallace is relishing the opportunity and captain Corey Parker says he was impressed with how Wallace handled the step up on Saturday night.
"Jarrod was good and he needed to be good," said Parker.
"We spoke before the game about starting the game really well and I think we did that.
"He had an opportunity to start for us tonight and I thought he did a good job.
"He's shown at times that he's a really good player. The challenge for him and all of us is to consistently do that week in and week out.
"He's only young but he's certainly got some good footy ahead of him."