Broncos weigh up Boyd gamble
Risk your most influential player as you desperately try to keep your season alive or keep him on ice for another week and hope that the players who do take the field are able to ensure the club's safe passage into the Preliminary Final?
That's the conundrum facing Broncos coach Wayne Bennett with the hamstring injury to Darius Boyd to be given a thorough examination on Tuesday to see whether it is likely to hold up to the stress of 80 minutes of finals football at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Boyd and interchange forward Tevita Pangai Jnr were kept indoors for the majority of Monday's gruelling session designed to repair the leaky Brisbane defence, the pair only emerging into the spring sunlight late to undertake some light activities.
As he stretched out his left hamstring in fielding grubber kicks and gentle bombs Boyd gave no indication of any discomfort but the true test will come on Tuesday when he is asked to complete some more strenuous exercises.
With Boyd out last week against the Roosters Kodi Nikorima was named in the No.1 jersey but on game day David Mead was promoted from the bench to start at fullback with Nikorima coming on in the 20th minute.
Nikorima spent the entirety of Monday's session that was primarily focused on defence in the fullback position and whether Boyd is risked this week will remain a question that is difficult to answer according to Jordan Kahu.
"It's a hard thing. If we win this game and he does play and he gets hurt we'll miss him for the rest of the year but we'll see how he goes," Kahu said.
"Obviously he's a crucial player in our team and he's our team captain. We'd love to have him back but it's going to be a tough decision."
Mead only got told of Bennett's game-plan to use him for the opening 20 minutes after the team walk last Friday morning and while excited about the prospect of repeating that this week knows it all hinges on Boyd's availability.
"I'm not too sure with 'Darbs'," Mead said. "Obviously he's training pretty hard and doing as much as he can to get back this week.
"After the game [Bennett] said he was happy with the way I ran out there and that was the only chat we had about football after the game."
The other option available to Bennett in Boyd's possible absence is to start either Mead or Kahu at fullback, move Nikorima back to halfback and start Benji Marshall from the bench.
Kahu is adamant that the groin injury that has been troubling him can stand up to the rigours of 80 minutes at fullback while back-rower Matt Gillett believes if the same 17 turns out against the Panthers that they will be a more cohesive unit.
Gillett partly blamed the reshuffled line-up for some of Brisbane's defensive lapses but is confident they can be resolved with another week together on the training park.
"We were a bit disconnected the other night and we've only got ourselves to blame for the way we played footy and handed them easy possession," Gillett said.
"We had the line right and there was probably an issue with a little bit of trust. On my side with Benji there, we haven't played a lot of footy together and we haven't defended like that for a while so just trusting our process that we have here.
"It's not just the individual trust but the structure that we defend with. It's a process that we worked on through all pre-season and into the season so it's just a matter of trusting that and going out there and doing it.
"We had good talks this morning about where we can go better and train this week and get it right for Friday night."