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Bird and Isaako in 'genuine shootout' for No.1 jersey

The shootout for the Broncos fullback position will heat up against the Cowboys on Saturday night with Jack Bird and Jamayne Isaako locked in a battle to snare the No.1 jersey for round one.

Both will spend time at fullback in Cairns with Bird starting and Isaako coming off the bench.

Bird strengthened his claim for No.1 jersey with a strong display in the 36-18 trial win over CQ Capras last weekend while Isaako was below his best at the NRL Nines.

Coach Anthony Seibold is yet to decide who will play in the Telstra Premiership clash with the Cowboys in Townsville on March 13. 

Bird ready for new challenge at fullback

"I said to both those boys that it is a genuine shootout for that position," Seibold told after Brisbane training on Tuesday.

"I was really happy with Birdy in Rockhampton. He ran with plenty of intent, defensively he was really well organised and he had a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

"I thought Jamayne was down with his performance over at the Nines. I spoke to him this morning about some areas of his game.

"Although Nines is very different to 13-a-side, Jamayne knows really clearly what he needs to work on. He'll get that opportunity this weekend and those two will play half a game each."

The race for outside back positions is also on in earnest with Herbie Farnworth and Jesse Arthars set to start at left wing and left centre respectively. Xavier Coates also gets his chance on the right wing where he is right in the frame for round one.

Behind the scenes with Anthony Seibold

"We are resting Darius Boyd and Corey Oates this weekend because I want to see more of Jesse and Herbie," Seibold said.

"They are right at the beginning of their career with Jesse turning 22 this year and Herbie turning 21 and they are both great athletes, very good footy players and working really hard.

"Xavier Coates is similar although only turning 19. They have all got a great attitude and I am enjoying what they are doing this pre-season. They all get a proper opportunity to play 13-on-13 this weekend.

"Kotoni Staggs will play some footy and so will Tesi Niu and Jamyne Isaako. Those two will come off the bench and Jack Bird will play fullback."

New halves partners Anthony Milford and Brodie Croft will get their first game together in a regular format after having limited chances at the Nines.

Five key match-ups of the Broncos' 2020 draw

Tom Dearden is keeping that pair honest and Seibold was also impressed with halfback Tyson Gamble in the  win over the Capras. Gamble had a personal haul of 16 points with a try and six goals from as many attempts.

"Tyson was a standout for Redcliffe last year and is a very good goal kicker,” Seibold said.

"He was really composed up there in Rockhampton and I thought he managed the game really well. He is a development list player so we can't use him until after June but it is good to have him at our club and developing as well."


Broncos squad: 1 Jack Bird, 2 Herbie Farnworth, 3 Kotoni Staggs, 4 Jesse Arthars, 5 Xavier Coates, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Tevita Pangai Jnr, 9 Jake Turpin, 10 Payne Haas, 11 Alex Glenn (c), 12 Ethan Bullemor, 13 Patrick Carrigan. Reserves: 14 Jamayne Isaako, 15 Richie Kennar, 16 Tesi Niu, 17 Tom Dearden, 18 Cory Paix, 19 Tom Flegler, 20 Joe Ofahengaue, 21 Rhys Kennedy, 22 Jamil Hopoate.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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