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Broncos selection shock as Smoothy named at lock

3 minute read

Brisbane, hit by injuries and State of Origin, have been forced to make innovative changes to their 17 for the NRL clash with St George Illawarra.

MATT GILLETT. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Brisbane have named three hookers in their 17 to play St George Illawarra on Saturday night, with regular bench rake Tyson Smoothy listed at lock.

Highly rated hooker Blake Mozer gets his third NRL game on the bench at Suncorp Stadium, where he will back up starting No.9 Billy Walters.

Giant prop Va'a Semu, playing with South-Logan in the Queensland Cup, has been named as 18th man after the 20-year-old development list forward was discussed as a possible option due to the Broncos' injury crisis in the forwards and the loss of Payne Haas, Pat Carrigan, Selwyn Cobbo and Reece Walsh to State of Origin duty.

The listing of Smoothy at No.13 has kept Semu on ice for the time being.

The Broncos have recalled 28-year-old Josh Rogers at half to replace the injured Jock Madden (hamstring), while Tristan Sailor comes into the starting side for Walsh at fullback.

The Broncos have been buoyed by the return of second-rower Jordan Riki from a two-week suspension as they look to end a five-game losing streak that has them in 11th position.

"It is extremely difficult (without Origin players), but we have got young and exciting players coming through like Josiah Karapani, who has been outstanding for us the last couple of weeks," Riki said.

"It is a huge opportunity for them to step up and show what they have got. There is a lot of trust in our group, and I trust the young boys coming through to get the job done."

He said he would continue to be aggressive despite being suspended for a late shot on Rabbitohs skipper Cameron Murray.

"Last year I grew as a player, and I still don't think I am at my full potential yet," Riki said.

"We are hugely grateful to have ex-players in the background like Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire to help us boys in the middle to bring back the aggression like the old Broncos and play tough and hard. 

"I really want to base my game off that, and the forward pack is bringing that into our game."

Semu's manager Dixon McIver said his client was thrilled to have signed a development contract with the Broncos in 2024, plus a three-year extension through to the end of 2027.

"He is a wonderful kid," McIver told AAP

"When he came through the Burleigh Bears system in Cyril Connell Cup he had that loping frame with effort upon effort. He had all the qualities you look for in a player." 

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