'Heroic' Hunt makes matters worse
Broncos teammate Sam Thaiday has lauded the bravery displayed by halfback Ben Hunt in making a tackle while injured last Thursday but believes it may have exacerbated the damage that will see him miss the next two months of the Telstra Premiership.
It was confirmed by the Broncos on Monday that Hunt could be out for as long as eight weeks due to a hamstring injury that initially was thought to be a low-grade tear that would see him miss little more than a fortnight.
But with Hunt bound for the Dragons in 2018 his team will now get a taste of what life looks without him in their team, Kodi Nikorima favoured to be handed the No.7 jersey for the Good Friday blockbuster against the Titans at Suncorp Stadium this week.
After being denied a try that the NRL later said should have in fact been awarded, Hunt struggled to get back into position as the Roosters rumbled downfield in the 48th minute, searching for salvation on Brisbane's right edge.
Sensing his discomfort the Roosters came straight for him with Hunt's final play of the game a lunging tackle on Latrell Mitchell that forced an error but may have also contributed to greater damage to his hamstring.
"To be honest he probably did make it worse, by making that effort, but it just shows the player that Ben Hunt is at the moment," Thaiday said on Monday as the Broncos conducted a training session and met fans in Logan, one of the south-east Queensland areas impacted by the recent floods.
"He wants to give everything for this team. We were in front at that point in the game as well and a player that didn't have that drive and desire for his team probably wouldn't have made that tackle but Ben Hunt did so that's why he's such an integral part of our team and why we'll miss him.
"We watched a bit of video this morning and still hurt and still down and injured he continued to push hard and he made a tackle on the sideline which was pretty heroic and pretty brave of him to do that."
With Benji Marshall currently sidelined with a broken wrist Nikorima has the edge on the other Bronco halves on the books in Sam Scarlett and Todd Murphy, the Kiwi Test rep slotting in seamlessly for the final half hour against the Roosters.
While acknowledging that replacing Hunt is a next to impossible task, lock forward Josh McGuire is adamant that any winning momentum won't be disrupted by bringing a new No.7 into the mix.
"Obviously you can't replace a player like Ben Hunt, he's a very classy football player, but we've got good depth here at the club," McGuire said.
"Someone will get an opportunity and whoever gets that opportunity will play well.
"That's the good thing about this club, when people get to step up they usually do and they take the opportunity with both hands."
After off-season shoulder surgery and a stint in the Intrust Super Cup with Norths Devils, last Thursday's outing against the Roosters was Nikorima's first for the year and Thaiday said it will be up to senior players in the team to assist in his transition.
"He came out there for that end of the half and I think he did a fantastic job," Thaiday said.
"Having a good week under his belt training with us and getting that little bit of a combination happening with 'Milly' (Anthony Milford) will only help him this week.
"For this week it might take him a little bit but it just means that a Darius Boyd or an Anthony Milford will have to stand up and take a little bit more responsibility in attack.
"He's a very, very fast player and likes a broken line of defence. He might even end up being our more structured player with Milford playing off the cuff.
"Kodi can try and direct the troops around but he's a very explosive player and a bit of a game-breaker and hopefully he can bring that to the team."
Corey Oates (groin), Korbin Sims (ankle) and Alex Glenn (achilles) were all missing from Monday's training session but are expected to be able to take their place in the team on Friday.