NEW columnist and rugby league boff Kaine Greenwood (@RetroPress) takes a look at Friday’s morning’s NRL action from Down Under.
Brisbane Broncos v New Zealand Warriors | Friday 09.05 | Premier Sports
If you didn’t already have a reason to watch Brisbane Broncos after they fought-out an epic Grand Final with North Queensland Cowboys in golden-point extra time at the climax of NRL 2015 – they’ve drafted Billy Slater into their 2016 squad on the wing!
I jest, it’s actually Greg Eden.
Now, while the former Huddersfield and Hull KR full-back isn’t – as current Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown once claimed – the next Slater, he has impressed in pre-season, adapting to a new position well enough to earn himself a try-scoring appearance in the World Club Series.
On the evidence of Round 1 though, the one person Eden should be looking to emulate is his fellow winger, Corey Oates, on the opposite flank. They are clearly different types of player for the same position but should he take a similar work ethic to Brisbane’s #2 (carried for team-leading 192 metres in Round 1) then he may well fashion at future in Queensland’s capital, regardless of injuries to other previous incumbents.
It has been a long-held view that Oates has the potential to be a lasting global star, having the attributes with his 6-foot-4, 16-stone frame to switch into the back-row when his speed relents.
Wayne Bennett is no stranger to developing talent and that is clearly why the RFL moved quickly to get him in situ as England head coach. So it is difficult to imagine the 21-year-old’s spike in production which also saw him make six tackle bursts, three line breaks and cap off the display with a try in the season-opener isn’t connected to the football smarts the seven-time champion coach holds.
In his first season back with the side he once previously led for two decades, Bennett didn’t just take this group from an eighth-placed side the previous season, to losing Grand Finalists; they were seconds away from being winners in normal time.
When these two particular sides have clashed over recent years there hasn’t been much to split them – 3-3 over the last 6 – although the Maroon and Golds did win 24-16 last time out.
Here they are boosted by the return of Jack Reed in the centres (replacing the injured Jordan Kahu) and his clash with Solomana Kata will be fascinating.
The Warriors have the talent themselves to challenge when the knockout footy rolls around again and have added Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to their group but they have problems in that they just don’t seem to handle the tussle with the better sides. A 2-9 record against the top-eight of 2015 is proof in that particular pudding of a record!
I am fairly confident in the fact Brisbane should come through this early test at Suncorp to extend that misery but the quotes on a straight win don’t appeal and, to guard against any chance a frequently hot-and-cold Warriors putting together a full-80 performance with Shaun Johnson at the strings, it is best to avoid.
We go instead for Corey Oates to produce a back-to-back display in getting over the whitewash – he did so in the reverse fixture in the fourth week of 2015 so he has form against the New Zealanders.
Brisbane Broncos v New Zealand Warriors – Corey Oates to score a try at anytime (10/11 SkyBet)
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