McCullough's kicking hits new heights
With Ben Hunt on the sidelines Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough has been focused on taking his kicking game to new heights.
McCullough's huge bombs were a noticeable feature in Brisbane's 24-14 win over the Manly Sea Eagles, with one spiralling torpedo in particular hitting altitudes not seen since the days of Darren Lockyer.
Sea Eagles fullback Tom Trbojevic could not catch the colossal kick on the full, letting the ball bounce before being tackled by David Mead. In the process Trbojevic suffered an ankle injury and knocked on, with the Broncos scoring directly off the mistake.
McCullough's six kicks in play against Manly were his equal-most of the season, with his 237 vital kick metres the longest the ball has travelled off his boot all year.
Quizzed about his hooker's newfound form with the boot, coach Wayne Bennett said it had been something the 27-year-old had been working hard on behind the scenes.
"He does a lot of practice and I think he has realised that he puts up the best bombs in the side without Ben there," Bennett said.
"He just jumped in there and showed some initiative and put up some really good 'torps'. They were very good kicks."
It is a feature of McCullough's game that has helped five-eighth Anthony Milford a lot in recent weeks.
Since Hunt hurt his hamstring in Round 6, Milford has been made to take on a lot more responsibility in the Broncos' attack formations.
But McCullough has taken some pressure off him and that's something Brisbane's young half is grateful for.
"His kicking isn't really a set play. Obviously I got caught there a few times (against Manly) and it's good just having someone there who can be a kicking option, especially when we don't have Ben," Milford said.
"I'm running the ball well but it's good to have someone else that can help with the kicks.
"Having McCullough there will continue to help us in the coming weeks when we lose some of our boys to Origin duties."
 McCullough Andrew - Broncos
As many as six Broncos will depart Red Hill for State of Origin duties in the next couple of weeks and therefore Hunt's imminent return will be a timely one.
Bennett gave an update on Hunt's fitness, saying his star half was a chance to run out against the Wests Tigers on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
"Ben is pretty close. He's not far away," Bennett said confidently.
"He's done all the training he's supposed to do. He's training pretty hard now so it will be up to the medical staff to make a decision on him."