Broncos’ relief as big guns return
THE Broncos cavalry is returning with star duo Matt Gillett and Alex Glenn to combat the loss of suspended Jake Turpin and Tevita Pangai Jr for Friday night's grudge match against Souths at Suncorp Stadium.
Turpin will miss two matches for striking Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards, while Pangai Jr's decision to seek a downgrade at the NRL judiciary night for a crusher tackle will not prevent him sitting out the clash with Wayne Bennett's Bunnies.
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold did not name the pair for the Rabbitohs blockbuster, but Brisbane have ready made replacements in Queensland back-rower Gillett and former Kiwi Test utility Glenn.
Pangai Jr's scratching enables Gillett to reclaim his cherished right-edge role in the No.12 jumper, while Glenn's versatility will see him slot in at left centre, relegating Gehamat Shibasaki to the bench.
In the absence of Turpin, Seibold is banking on rookie halfback Sean O'Sullivan to fire alongside five-eighth Darius Boyd as the Broncos look to cement seventh spot by beating the out-of-form Rabbitohs.
Glenn's return will mark a significant milestone for the 31-year-old. The 10-year veteran will celebrate his 256th first-grade game, surpassing Andrew Gee (255) as the sixth most-capped Bronco and leaving him just two games shy of legendary halfback Allan Langer (258).
While Gillett and Glenn bring invaluable experience, O'Sullivan faces the biggest test of his embryonic career in his fifth NRL game against a Souths team which thumped Brisbane 38-6 in round eight.
Broncos prop Matt Lodge hasn't forgotten the painful lesson the Rabbitohs dished out in the first instalment of the Bennett-Seibold grudge-match in May.
"They bashed us and towelled us up down there last time," Lodge said.
"We still have a lot of things to work on in our footy.
"As long as we come with a competitive mindset we will be a lot better than we were earlier in the year.
"Souths are up with the benchmark in the comp and we just have to turn up and play our style of footy and see what happens."
Gillett is the only change to the starting pack with in-form Broncos props Lodge and Payne Haas primed to rip and tear against the Rabbitohs after the latter's superb 43m solo try against Penrith last week.
The interchange bench comprises James Segeyaro, Tom Flegler, Pat Carrigan and Shibasaki, who has squeezed last week's debutant Izaia Perese out of the 17-man squad.
Rabbitohs enforcer Sam Burgess is in doubt for the Broncos clash with a quadriceps injury, but Lodge hopes he plays.
"Sam is one of my personal favourite players," he said.
"I don't mind his style. I'm willing to cop a few hits from Burgess as long as we don't get pinged for giving it back to him.
"That's what rugby league is about, people pay money to watch big guys get aggressive with each other and sometimes it can go that way."