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It's been less than two years since Brisbane were comfortable winners in this fixture, but that feels like an age ago following a season in which Penrith ran away with the minor premiership and the Broncos finished with the wooden spoon.

The Panthers are still red hot in 2021, shaking off the disappointment of a grand final loss to hand out thrashings to the Cowboys (24-0), Bulldogs (28-0) and Sea Eagles (46-6) while also clinching a tight win over reigning premiers Melbourne and running away late for a healthy win over the Raiders.

Meanwhile, Brisbane have just a single win to their name so far, shutting out the Bulldogs 24-0 in their previous clash at Suncorp Stadium.

That history means only the bravest tipsters or most one-eyed Broncos fans will be backing the hosts to come away with a win here … but stranger things have happened.

Broncos v Panthers

The rundown

Team news

Broncos: Centre Jesse Arthars missed Wednesday's captain's run with illness and is out of the side to face Penrith. David Mead moves into the centres and Corey Oates gets a recall on the left wing for his first game of 2021.

Prop Tom Flegler also missed training on Wednesday due to illness but he is expected to play.

Five-eighth Anthony Milford has been dropped with his place taken by Brodie Croft. Back-rower Ben Te'o is scheduled to undergo surgery this week and will be out for at least 12 weeks after suffering a biceps injury against the Rabbitohs. Ethan Bullemor has taken his place on the bench.

Patrick Carrigan will return from suspension at lock, pushing Tevita Pangai jnr to the second row and Jordan Riki to the bench.

Keenan Palasia was omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. Cory Paix was cut an hour before game time and Rhys Kennedy is the 18th man.

The Broncos have won four of their past five games against the Panthers.

Panthers: The Panthers had the luxury of naming the same squad that beat Canberra last week and will line up 1-17.

The only Penrith players sidelined at the moment are fullback Dylan Edwards (hand, round 8) and hooker Api Koroisau (wrist, round 8-10).

Robert Jennings and J'maine Hopgood were the first two players cut from the squad on Thursday. Scott Sorensen was omitted an hour before kick-off and Jaeman Salmon is the 18th man.

The Panthers have averaged 28 points per game in 2021.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Broncos is number 1 Jamayne Isaako
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Stephen Crichton
  • Winger for Broncos is number 2 Xavier Coates
    Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie Staines
  • Centre for Broncos is number 3 Richard Kennar
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Paul Momirovski
  • Centre for Broncos is number 5 David Mead
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Matt Burton
  • Winger for Broncos is number 21 Corey Oates
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
  • Five-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Brodie Croft
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
  • Halfback for Broncos is number 7 Tom Dearden
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary

Forwards

  • Prop for Broncos is number 8 Matthew Lodge
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
  • Hooker for Broncos is number 9 Jake Turpin
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Mitch Kenny
  • Prop for Broncos is number 10 Payne Haas
    Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
  • 2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 Alex Glenn
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
  • 2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Tevita Pangai Junior
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Kurt Capewell
  • Lock for Broncos is number 13 Patrick Carrigan
    Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo

Interchange

  • Interchange for Broncos is number 14 John Asiata
    Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone May
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 15 Thomas Flegler
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Spencer Leniu
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 16 Ethan Bullemor
    Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Matthew Eisenhuth
  • Interchange for Broncos is number 17 Jordan Riki
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Liam Martin

Reserves

  • Reserve for Broncos is number 18 Rhys Kennedy
    Reserve for Panthers is number 21 Jaeman Salmon

Match Officials

  • Referee: Grant Atkins
  • Touch Judge: Matt Noyen
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy

Last updated:

Key match-up

Brodie Croft v Jarome Luai: With Anthony Milford paying the price Brisbane's dismal start it falls to Croft to contain one of the NRL's hottest playmakers. Luai is flying high, leading the league in try assists last season and producing seven in the first five rounds this year. It was the five-eighth's try assist and try which turned the Canberra game in Penrith's favour last Friday night.

Croft has struggled to nail down a spot in Brisbane's line-up since moving north from Melbourne. Forming a productive partnership with young half Tom Dearden would help turn both his and Brisbane's fortunes around.

Stat attack

The biggest statistical gap between these sides after five rounds is in defence. Brisbane are conceding 25.4 points per game, and 31.75 points across their four losses so far. Penrith, meanwhile, have conceded just 26 points, in total, all season. Points won't be easy to come by for the Broncos here.

 

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