McGuire and Napa's 'friendly' rivalry

McGuire and Napa's 'friendly' rivalry

Mates since childhood, Brisbane Broncos lock Josh McGuire and Sydney Roosters enforcer Dylan Napa will test their friendship on Friday night when their respective sides meet at Allianz Stadium. 

‌McGuire and Napa are set to go toe to toe in this week's qualifying final and it should be an even battle with both knowing each other inside and out. 

The two first met where their rugby league careers began, with both playing junior football for the Aspley Devils in Brisbane. 

McGuire, who is two years older than his Roosters counterpart, played in the age group above Napa but it was not long before the two met and became good friends around the club. 

Their rugby league careers took different paths, with McGuire signing with the Broncos and Napa moving to Sydney, before being reunited during this year's Queensland Maroons camp when Napa made his State of Origin debut, joining McGuire in the Kevin Walters's team 

They may be on different sides this time around, but the respect is still there, with McGuire labelling Napa as one of the world's best front-row forwards. 

"I've known him a long time. He played at my junior football club. He's a quality fella and a great football player, and an even better bloke off the field," McGuire said.

"I've really enjoyed my time knowing Dylan, and I've enjoyed watching him develop over the years. 

"He's now one of the premier front-rowers of the competition. I'm looking forward to playing against one of the best front-rowers in the world.

"Over the years he has played a lot of quality games. Dylan is a very relaxed fella and he's very unassuming off the field, but on the field he's a leader. 

"He's a guy that I really enjoy playing with but also against. He's a man that leads by example and I'm just really happy for him." 

Napa is just one member of a Roosters pack that offers plenty of aggression and go-forward, and Brisbane's forwards must stand up to them if they are to earn an upset victory. 

The Broncos' forward stocks have taken a blow this week, with Tevita Pangai Junior missing selection due to a hamstring injury he aggravated during Brisbane's victory over the North Queensland Cowboys in Round 26.

Pangai Junior has been sensational this year, playing 17 games and bringing real impact of Brisbane's bench. 

His absence presents lock Jai Arrow a well-earned opportunity to return to first grade – a player McGuire rates very highly. 

"I'm really happy to have Jai in the team. Obviously I think Tevita is a big loss, but Jai brings a lot of similar attributes," McGuire said. 

"He has a good offload and works very hard in defence. His footwork is also very good."