NRL trials teams: Broncos fullback battle over?
The race for the Brisbane Broncos' No. 1 jersey is over, with ex-NSW Origin star Jack Bird to kick-off his career resurrection as Darius Boyd's fullback successor.
Only injury or a disastrous performance in Saturday's final pre-season trial against the Titans will prevent Bird from being Brisbane's first-choice fullback in 2020.
Bird has beaten New Zealand international Jamayne Isaako to the fullback duties following an intense pre-season competition.
At the start of pre-season in November, Isaako was considered to be the frontrunner to replace Boyd in Brisbane's famous No. 1 jersey.
But a stellar pre-season from Bird has seen the Cronulla Sharks premiership-winner edge ahead in the duel and he will start at fullback on Saturday night at Redcliffe's Dolphin Stadium.
Broncos captain Alex Glenn will miss the Titans trial after aggravating a hamstring injury and is racing the clock to be fit for Round 1.
Bird spent three quarters of yesterday's training session at fullback and coach Anthony Seibold said he has impressed in two trial starts in the No. 1.
"Jack is going to start again," he said.
"I've been really happy with him, particularly defensively. A lot of people don't see what fullbacks do in defence.
"He has worked really hard and is really good at organising the defensive splits and line defence. We'll get another look at him this weekend.
"On the other side, Jamayne is very athletically gifted and brings a lot of qualities.
"It is a really tough competition. Both players have shown some good signs, but Birdy is going to start again this week."
Bird, 24, has had two seasons to forget at Red Hill, managing only 17 games combined due to shoulder, sternum and knee injuries.
But he has been a standout during the pre-season and Seibold said the No. 1 jersey was a reward for Bird's efforts.
"Definitely, he has been tremendous," Seibold said.
"It's like having a new recruit in some ways, a quality new recruit who has won a premiership and played Origin.
"He's played limited games the last couple of years. He would probably say that physically he was below his best the last two years, but that was in some way because of the injuries he's had.
"I'm really happy with how he's trained. Physically he looks great.
"He's got a really good energy to him at the moment and is in a really positive frame of mind.
"He's set himself up to have a red-hot crack so I'm really pleased for Jack."
The Broncos held a lengthy training session at Red Hill on Tuesday morning to prepare for the Titans trial.
Jake Turpin will start at hooker ahead of Andrew McCullough, forming a new-look spine with Brodie Croft, Anthony Milford and Bird.
The Broncos will be without Matt Lodge (knee) for the start of the NRL season while Joe Ofahengaue is set to be suspended, giving Tom Flegler a chance to start in the front row.
Winger Corey Oates will play his first game of the season alongside Boyd at left centre, with rising rookie Xavier Coates on the right wing.
Seibold said he expected Glenn to be fit for Brisbane's NRL season-opener against the Cowboys on March 13.
"Alex definitely won't play this week," he said.
"He is walking around and looks okay but we don't want to take any risks at this time of year.
"He tweaked it attempting to score a try but we're hopeful he will be right for round one.
"With any hammy you get the relevant scan so we will know more after seeing the results.
"I'm confident Alex won't miss round one. He's had a disrupted pre-season with his hammy so we won't risk him this weekend."
- Travis Meyn & Peter Badel
PANTHERS V EELS
4pm Saturday at Bega
Panthers: Apisai Koroisau, Billy Burns, Brendan Hands, Brent Naden, Brian To'o, Caleb Aekins, Dean Whare, Isaah Yeo, Jack Hetherington, James Fisher-Harris, James Tamou, Jarome Luai, Jed Cartwright, Josh Mansour, Kurt Capewell, Liam Martin, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Matt Burton, Mitch Kenny, Moses Leota, Nathan Cleary, Pat Hollis, Stephen Crichton, Tyrone May, Viliame Kikau, Zane Tetevano
Eels: To come
STORM V COWBOYS
5.30pm Saturday at Casey Fields, Melbourne
Storm: To come
Cowboys: To come
BULLDOGS V RAIDERS
5.45pm Saturday at Port Macquarie Stadium
Bulldogs: Adam Elliott, Aiden Tolman, Brandon Wakeham, Christian Crichton, Corey Hawira-Naera, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dean Britt, Dylan Napa, Isaiah Tass, Jack Cogger, Jake Averillo, Jayden Okunbor, Joe Stimson, Josh Jackson, Kerrod Holland, Lachlan Lewis, Morgan Harper, Ofahiki Ogden, Reimis Smith, Renouf To'omaga, Sione Katoa, Will Hopoate.
Raiders: To come
ROOSTERS V KNIGHTS
7pm Saturday at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Roosters: To come
Knights: To come
RABBITOHS V DRAGONS
8pm Saturday at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee
Rabbitohs: 1.Latrell Mitchell 2.Dane Gagai 3.James Roberts 4.Braidon Burns 5.Campbell Graham 6.Cody Walker 7.Adam Reynolds (c) 8.Junior Tatola 9.Damien Cook 10.Thomas Burgess 11.Jaydn Su'A 12.Cameron Murray 13.Liam Knight.
Interchange: 14.Patrick Mago 15.Hame Sele 16.Alex Johnston 17.Keaon Koloamatangi 18.Bryson Goodwin 19.Corey Allan 20.Bayley Sironen 21.Troy Dargan 22.Blake Taaffe 23.Jack Johns 24.Tom Amone
Dragons: Euan Aitken, Eddie Blacker, Billy Brittain, Adam Clune, Jackson Ford, Tyson Frizell, Tyrell Fuimaono, Jacob Host, Ben Hunt, Tim Lafai, Blake Lawrie, Zac Lomax, Issac Luke, Trent Merrin, Corey Norman, Jordan Pereira, Mikaele Ravalawa, Jason Saab, Tristan Sailor, Tariq Sims, Paul Vaughan, Brayden Wiliame
BRONCOS V TITANS
8pm Saturday at Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane
Broncos: 1.Jack Bird 2.Corey Oates 3.Kotoni Staggs 4.Darius Boyd 5.Xavier Coates 6.Anthony Milford 7.Brodie Croft 8.Tom Flegler 9.Jake Turpin 10.Payne Haas 11.David Fifita 12.Tevita Pangai Jnr 13.Patrick Carrigan.
Interchange: 14.Jamayne Isaako 15.Herbie Farnworth 16. Jesse Arthars 17.Tesi Niu 18.Richie Kennar 19.Tom Dearden 20.Tyson Gamble 21.Jordan Riki 22.Andrew McCullough 23.Joe Ofahengaue 24.Rhys Kennedy 25.Jamil Hopoate 26.Ethan Bullemor
Titans: 1. Phillip Sami, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. Brian Kelly, 5. Jonus Pearson, 6. Tyrone Roberts, 7. Ashley Taylor, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Mitch Rein, 10. Sam Lisone, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Bryce Cartwright, 13. Jai Arrow.
Interchange: 14. Jai Whitbread, 15. Tyrone Peachey, 16. Nathan Peats, 17. Tanah Boyd, 18. Dale Copley, 19. Sam Stone, 20. Jaimin Jolliffe, 21. Erin Clark, 22. Greg Lelisisauo
WARRIORS V WESTS TIGERS
Noon Sunday at Rotorua
Warriors: 1.Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c) 2.Patrick Herbert 3.Hayze Perham 4.David Fusitu'a 5.Ken Maumalo 6.Kodi Nikorima 7.Blake Green 8.Leeson Ah Mau 9.Wayde Egan 10.Agnatius Paasi 11.Adam Blair 12.Tohu Harris 13.Isaiah Papali'i
Interchange: 14.Chanel Harris-Tavita 15.Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 16.Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard 17.Karl Lawton 18.Paul Turner 20. Taane Milne 21.Josh Curran 24.Peta Hiku 25.Lachlan Burr
26.Eliesa Katoa 27.Edward Kosi 28.Leivaha Pulu
Wests Tigers: To come
SHARKS V SEA EAGLES
7pm Sunday at Jubilee Stadium
1.Will Kennedy 2.Sione Katoa 3.Josh Morris 4.Jesse Ramien 5.Ronaldo Mulitalo 6.Shaun Johnson 7.Chad Townsend 8.Andrew Fifita 9.Blayke Brailey 10.Aaron Woods 11.Briton Nikora 12.Wade Graham 13.Jack Williams
Interchange: 14.Connor Tracey 15.Braden Hamlin-Uele 16.Toby Rudolf 17.Scott Sorensen 18.Billy Magoulias 19.Siosifa Talakai 20.Royce Hunt 21.Jackson Ferris
Sea Eagles: To come