Rabbitohs to blood debutant for Broncos clash
With Greg Inglis, Alex Johnson, Campbell Graham and Robert Jennings all missing from the South Sydney backline, coach Anthony Seibold will debut young flyer Mawene Hiroti on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium.
Hiroti has been named to ease his way in via the interchange with the four regular backline stars missing.
Inglis did not take part in the team's final full session at Redfern on Tuesday as he edges closer to a return from a broken thumb. The short turnaround worked against him but with nine days between the Broncos game and a round-24 trip to Canberra the club is hopeful he will get two games in before the finals.
Johnston strained a hamstring very early on in last week's loss to the Rabbitohs and is set to miss a few weeks while winger Robert Jennings (hamstring) is also still a few weeks away and his fellow flanker Campbell Graham (wrist) is at least one more week away.
New Zealand-born speedster Hiroti, 19, can play wing, fullback or centre. Teammates on Tuesday said they were not sure how he would fit into Seibold's backline against the Broncos but were looking forward to him getting his chance in the top grade after some impressive form for the Bears in the Intrust Super Premiership recently.
"[Inglis] won't play this week, we will rest him up and give the young fella Mawene, who's been playing great for the Bears, we will give him a chance to step up and make his NRL debut," said halfback Adam Reynolds.
"He is fast, very fast; he is a good kid with a good attitude. He is a young bloke and he has been biting at the heels for a bit now, and he has been playing well in reserve grade. I'm looking forward to seeing him when he gets his chance."
Reynolds refused to blame the backline upheaval for last week's loss to the Roosters; the reshuffled backline will mostly be in place again this week with Dane Gagai at fullback and Tyrell Fuimaono at centre.
"It's a disruption but you've got to get on with those things – that's football," Reynolds said.
"Those sort of things happen all the time and for us it's about moving forward. I thought Gagai went back [to fullback] and did a fantastic job. Tyrell came on for not playing much first grade this year and I though he was excellent as well, straight up against Latrell Mitchell, I think he did a good job."
Departing veteran Jason Clark has been impressed by what he's seen of Hiroti this year.
"He is a young quiet achiever," Clark said.
"At the start [of the season] I played some reserve grade with him and he stood up there and was playing some good football so as an older bloke now I'm very humbled and happy for him that he is getting the opportunity to play and I know he will enjoy it and do his family proud."