Another Bronco debutant on standby
The Brisbane Broncos may hand an NRL debut to a sixth member of their squad on Friday night with prolific try-scorer Jonus Pearson placed on standby for winger Lachlan Maranta who is battling a groin injury.
With Maranta taking no part in Thursday morning's captain's run, Pearson and Jordan Kahu shared time on the right wing but coach Wayne Bennett said afterwards that Kahu was still a couple of weeks from returning from a pec injury.
With Greg Eden also sidelined or at least another week with a shoulder injury it opens the door for 21-year-old Pearson to make his Bronco debut against the Eels should Maranta fail to come through a fitness test on Friday morning.
"He's in a bit of doubt but we'll see how he is tomorrow," Bennett said on Thursday of Maranta's chances.
"He's pretty close to playing but he hurt his groin last week in Sydney and while it's much better he's still not totally confident in it."
Two years ago Pearson was a teenager playing for Yeppoon Seagulls in the Rockhampton Rugby League A Grade grand final before joining the Broncos' under-20s system last season.
He scored 14 tries in 13 appearances in the Holden Cup before spending time playing for the Central Queensland Capras in the Intrust Super Cup.
Having completed a full pre-season with the NRL squad Pearson linked with Broncos' feeder team the Redcliffe Dolphins and has scored 12 tries this season for the competition leaders, including a crucial double against Easts Tigers last weekend.
With doubts over the fitness of both Kahu and Eden, Bennett said Pearson was the right man for the job if Maranta is unable to play and would join 2016 debutants Eden, Jai Arrow, Tom Opacic, Tevita Pangai Jnr and Jaydn Su'A.
"Jonus is 100 per cent fit and ready to go if Lachie's not right," Bennett said.
"It's not that difficult [to bring another new face in] because we've got a good system in place now.
"Jonus has been with us and done every session since November so they know what's required.
"He's in a good system at Redcliffe and they've done a good job with him so it makes it a lot easier than just pulling someone from out of the park somewhere that hasn't trained with you or played with you.
"We kept him last year because we thought he had a future here and nothing's changed this year with us."
Bennett was hopeful of having Kahu available as the Telstra Premiership Finals Series draws ever closer but conceded his return from pec injury is behind where the club had initially hoped.
"I'd say looking at him this morning he probably is [a few weeks away]," said Bennett.
"We thought he was a bit closer than that but he's not confident enough on his left side yet to play.
"He's strong enough but just not confident enough so he'll have to wait a bit longer."