Too many hookers and not enough halves is the conundrum facing Anthony Seibold as 18-year-old playmaker Tom Dearden awaits the full diagnosis of the ankle injury he suffered six minutes into Brisbane’s 26-18 defeat at the hands of the Titans on Sunday.
Although the Brisbane coach said he would not know the extent of the high ankle sprain suffered by Dearden until the results of scans scheduled for Monday afternoon.
He confirmed Joe Ofahengaue would be out for a month due to the cut he suffered below his knee in his Maroons debut on Wednesday, ruling him out of Origin II in Perth on June 23 and giving him little time to prove his fitness for the Holden State of Origin series finale in Sydney on July 10.
Given the mid-season release of Kodi Nikorima to join the Warriors, the injury to Dearden places a further strain on the club’s halves stocks, Jake Turpin throwing his name into the mix with a strong showing in his makeshift cameo against the Titans.
Sean O’Sullivan will be the frontrunner to partner Anthony Milford against the Eels at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday but given the outstanding form of Turpin, the successful return of Andrew McCullough and James Segeyaro being available after serving a one-game suspension for a low-range drink driving offence, finding the right mix will be a hot topic of debate.
"The early prognosis is that it is a high ankle sprain. He'll get a scan and we'll know from there,” Seibold said of the Dearden injury.
"Talking to him he's pretty optimistic and thought he wouldn't be too long but that's probably just Tom not understanding the nature of those types of injuries. We'll have a clearer picture tomorrow after a scan.
"We've got Sean O'Sullivan sitting there playing in reserve grade for us at Norths and he hasn't been too far away from getting an opportunity. We'll sit down and have a think about how best to structure the team for next week."
Prior to Sunday, Turpin had started in each of Brisbane’s past three wins in succession and although he again started in the No.9 jersey, he was shifted to halfback following the Dearden injury.
He was at the heart of almost everything positive the Broncos did in a team performance Seibold described as "clunky" and lacking intent and guaranteed himself a place in the team next week, wherever that may be.
"He's probably been our best player for the past four games now," Seibold said.
"He went to a position that wasn't too foreign to him. As a kid he played a lot of halfback but he hasn't played there for a couple of seasons now.
"He hasn't done any reps at half this year and we've got Sean O'Sullivan sitting there. I'll see how Sean pulls up after playing for Norths and the coaches will get together tomorrow afternoon after we've done our individual reviews and look at what we think is best for next week.
"Certainly Jakey will be in our team next week, we just have to wait and see what position suits best."
The Broncos will welcome back Origin stars Matt Gillett and Corey Oates to play Parramatta.
"We had a few things go against us and the best teams in the competition can persevere and be resilient and handle those things and we didn't, particularly in that first half,” Seibold said, his side now sitting in ninth.
"We believed that we had a group that could get the job done today. We had a real focus on starting the game with a lot of energy and intent and I just thought we were beaten in those early stages. I thought the Titans ran a little bit harder than us and that was the game in a nutshell."