Kahu ruled out for Broncos
The Brisbane Broncos have suffered an injury blow as they prepare to face the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night, with winger Jordan Kahu ruled out for at least a week with a groin injury.
Kahu re-aggravated a groin strain in his side's 24-22 win over the Gold Coast Titans in Round 7, leaving the field with 10 minutes to play in the match.
Despite being hopeful of playing this week, Kahu has fallen short in his recovery, but a plethora of outside backs in Brisbane's squad means they are in a good position to cover the injury.
PNG international David Mead will start in Kahu's place on the wing, with young gun Jonus Pearson set to come onto the bench as a utility.
21-year-old Pearson played three games for the club in 2016, putting together a solid debut year that saw him finish with two tries and an average of 90 run metres per game.
It may seem a strange choice to bring a winger onto the bench, especially after highly fancied forward George Fai was named as 19th man.
But coach Wayne Bennett told media on Thursday that there is a specific reason for Pearson's inclusion, with it following on from Mead's use as a utility in Round 7.
"David played great for us two weeks ago but we will miss Jordan. You always miss the good players, but David is more than capable," Bennett said.
"Jonus will be on the bench. He played for us last year and he was really good. The opportunity is there for him now.
"[I chose a back on the bench because] all our forwards are match fit and can play long minutes.
"With the concussion rule the way it is backs become vulnerable. If you have a head injury to a back it can be 15 minutes before they come back on.
"We found last year that we had a number of games where we lost a back and didn't have a replacement for them.
"Jonus can play on the wing and David can play anywhere in the backs. Darius can also come play in the halves if we need it."
Accompanying Pearson on the bench will be Joe Ofahengaue who comes into the side to replace injured forward Tevita Pangai Jnr.
Pangai Jnr will miss up to three months with a bad finger injury after requiring surgery on a break and a torn tendon.
His absence will give Ofahengaue time to prove his worth after the 21-year-old appeared to fall out of favour with Bennett.
Ofahengaue played 14 games in his debut year in 2015, before appearing 16 times in 2016, but he has yet to be seen in the NRL this year.
Bennett said there was a reason for this, but he believes his young prop has earned a recall to first grade after a strong start to the season playing for the Souths Logan Magpies in the Intrust Super Cup.
"Joe probably got a bit ahead of himself. He had to go back and appreciate what playing in the NRL really means," he said.
"He's done a great job with himself. In the last couple of weeks he's been close to the best forward at Souths Logan. His form is good and he's ready to go.
"It wasn't an attitude thing. (The young players) get an opportunity and then get a bit ahead of themselves thinking they've really made it when they haven't.
"You never really make it. Every week you need to go out and prove that you're up for the game. That doesn't matter if you've played one game or 200 games."