Benji backs Broncos' new-look spine
Brisbane Broncos halfback Benji Marshall says his side will adapt well to a new-look spine – much like they have all season.
With Kodi Nikorima shifting to fullback to cover for the injured Darius Boyd, Marshall will start at halfback for the Broncos for the first time this season on Friday night when the Broncos travel to Allianz Stadium to take on the Sydney Roosters.
It is less than ideal for Brisbane's playmakers to be shifting around heading into the finals but is something Wayne Bennett's men are used to, with the Broncos suffering injuries to Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt, Andrew McCullough and Boyd throughout the year.
It has not impacted their season too much, with Brisbane's versatility working in their favour as they chalked up 16 wins and a third-placed finish.
If anything the league-leading Melbourne Storm have proved that team changes are not all doom and gloom, with Craig Bellamy's men using the third-most amount of players in the league this year due to State of Origin, suspension and injuries.
The Storm have been the standouts of the competition all season, claiming the minor premiership. Interestingly, they have done it by fielding 31 different players – the same amount as the last-placed Newcastle Knights.
It proves with good coaching and versatile playing stocks the best teams can alter their style of play to beat the challenges of a 26-round regular season, and that is the attitude Marshall and his Broncos team are taking into the finals.
"Nothing's changed from what's happened throughout the year. 'Milf's' been out at some stage, Kodi's been out, Darius has been out earlier in the year, Ben Hunt's been out and everyone that has come in has done their job," Marshall said.
"For us collectively as a spine, whoever plays that position, we all know what our roles are and we know how important that is to our team."
Marshall is preparing to play his 11th NRL finals match on Friday night and this experience will be vital to the Broncos' chances of causing an upset victory over the Roosters.
The 32-year-old said he is taking a relaxed approach, hoping it will calm the nerves of some of his more inexperienced teammates.
"It probably helps relax the team a bit. I know if you go into these games too worked up about the pressure it can affect you in a negative way but I'm just going to try and keep the group relaxed and have a bit of fun at training and keep it a little bit light-hearted," he said.
"I think that goes a long way towards helping the boys relax before the semi-finals."
Along with Boyd, Tevita Pangai Junior will also miss the match against the Roosters after succumbing to a hamstring injury.
Young lock Jai Arrow will replace him, with utility David Mead also joining the Broncos' bench.