Brisbane Broncos 2017 Season in Review
The big questions for Brisbane revolve around how to replace halfback Ben Hunt and what to do with Jack Bird – though it's a raft of departures in the forward pack that represent the most changes to Wayne Bennett's squad.
Jack Bird is likely to start off at centre once he is fit, but has been excluded from our predicted round one side as he returns from a shoulder injury. With Corey Oates also set to trial in the back row, we'd expect an up-and-comer like Jamayne Isaako to start on the wing and Tom Opacic to return at centre. Kodi Nikorima appears the front-runner to partner Anthony Milford at the scrumbase.
The departures of Adam Blair (along with the likes of Herman Ese'ese and Jai Arrow) opens a front-row spot next to Korbin Sims that could well be taken by the returning Matt Lodge or ex-Shark Sam Tagataese. Sam Thaiday is another candidate, though his effectiveness as a bench weapon could keep him on the pine for round one.
NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:
"When you look at their team on paper, Brisbane aren't as formidable as they have been in previous years.
"Their forward depth is still good despite losing Ese'ese and Blair. With Matt Lodge and Sam Tagatese the front-row rotation will be heavily congested. I think Ofahengaue before the year is out will be starting in the front row instead of Matt Lodge.
"I think Wayne will start with Nikorima at halfback – whether that continues we'll have to wait and see. There's also the possibility Darius Boyd will move to five-eighth with Milford to seven or Jack Bird to the six.
"They lose their kicking game with Ben Hunt so one player will have to work really hard on game management and kicking."
NRL.com's predicted Round 1 team (updated):
1 Darius Boyd, 2 Corey Oates, 3 Jordan Kahu, 4 James Roberts, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Tevita Pangai, 9 Sam Thaiday, 10 Matt Lodge, 11 Matt Gillett, 12 Alex Glenn, 13 Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14 Jaydn Su'A, 15 Korbin Sims, 16 Andrew McCullough, 17 Joe Ofahengaue. Reserves: 18 Todd Murphy, 19 George Fai, 20 Patrick Mago, 21 Payne Haas.