The Brisbane Broncos are looking at making two key changes to their backline for Friday's Magic Round clash with Manly, with star centre James Roberts and winger Jamayne Isaako set to be dropped.
Incumbent NSW centre Roberts and 2018 Dally M NRL Rookie of the Year Isaako both trained with the Broncos' reserves on Monday, with Kotoni Staggs and Gehamat Shibasaki their likely replacements in the starting side this week.
Shibasaki trained at right wing and Staggs at left centre with the Broncos main squad on Monday, with Jack Bird reverting to his favoured right centre position.
There could be a third change to the starting side with Andrew McCullough suffering a knee injury at training, with Jake Turpin the likely replacement for McCullough at hooker if he is ruled out.
The Broncos sit in 13th place on the ladder with two wins and six losses from their first eight matches in coach Anthony Seibold's first season in charge.
Brisbane are yet to confirm any team changes and will officially announce their round nine line-up on Tuesday at 4pm.
Roberts has had a difficult season to date with a back and Achilles injury hampering him physically. His form has also been below his usual standards with defensive lapses proving costly.
Isaako is yet to hit the heights of last year with uncharacteristic errors creeping into his game and denting the Kiwi international's confidence.
Brisbane captain Darius Boyd said both would bounce back and had been victims of the Broncos' 2-6 start to the season.
"They've just got to keep working hard. We've only won two games and sometimes you need to make a few changes here and there, and those two guys are the ones that have taken a bit of the brunt of it at the moment," Boyd told NRL.com.
"Jamayne has a 10- or 15-year career ahead of him and I don't think he should be too flustered about it. He just needs to get his confidence back and make sure he is a training hard and doing all the little things well.
"Jimmy is in the same boat. He played Origin last year and has had a bit of trouble with his back and his Achilles in particular. He just needs to get his body right and make sure he is raring to go when he gets back."
Staggs is in the NSW Blues' sights after being named in their emerging squad while Shibasaki, who made his NRL debut in round 22 against the Cowboys last year, has done everything asked of him while playing for Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup.
Boyd said both would do the job for the Broncos in Manly if selected as expected.
"Gehamat has been playing really well in the Queensland Cup and Kotoni has had a couple of games starting this year and is just a ball of energy and works hard all the time," Boyd said.
Sea Eagles v Broncos - Magic Round
"Gehamat is the same. He works hard and has a strong ball carry and reads the defence well.
"I'm looking forward to playing with both of them."
The Broncos have struggled to respond when momentum swings against them this year. Boyd put that down to youth but said Shibasaki and Staggs should not let that faze them.
"Sometimes you need a bit of energy and enthusiasm in your group. I'm not saying we haven't had that, but when you have a young group and make an error there are a few heads that drop," Boyd said.
“I'd like to think that those two young guys don't take that to heart and they take that in their stride and keep pushing forward. It is a good opportunity for both Staggsy and Gehamat."