Broncos won't let Bulldogs punish Barba over 'defection'
BRISBANE is set to play glamour recruit Ben Barba at fullback to counter plans by his former NRL club Canterbury to smash him out of Friday night's clash in front of hostile ANZ Stadium fans still fuming over his defection.
Brisbane will spare Barba the sight and pain of Bulldogs monsters Sam Kasiano (122kg), Tony Williams (118kg) and Frank Pritchard (112kg) trampling over him at every opportunity.
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin will end weeks of speculation about his starting halves for the season opener today.
Mackay's Josh Hoffman is expected to be named in the No.6 jumper outside Ben Hunt, with Barba to be kept out of the front line to allow him to work his attacking magic from fullback.
Speculation has been rife young rookie Kodi Nikorima, who played extremely well in last month's Auckland Nines, could be pitched into the contentious five-eighth role, with Hoffman named on the wing where he scored a swag of tries last season.
But Griffin seems likely to trust Hoffman with the key playmaking duties given his 93kg frame is better equipped physically to handle the massive Bulldogs front-line assault than the lighter-framed Barba.
New co-captain Corey Parker, who could be named in the front row as Griffin experiments early in the season with his middle and edge forwards, was unable to shed much light on the No.6 mystery yesterday before Brisbane trained .
Hoffman and Barba shared time in the two positions during the session.
Asked if he had any insight into who would play five-eighth, Parker said: "no, not yet."
"We got training later but I'm not sure yet. I'm sure we'll all know by the end of the week. Whoever gets the nod I'm sure they'll do a fine job."
Parker wasn't even sure what position he would be named in for the season opener.
But he said his role wouldn't change regardless of whether he had number 10 or 13 on his back.
"I think in the modern game you've got tight (middle), edges and backs," he said.
"I played tight last year and I don't think my role is going to change if I played prop."
Parker should benefit from having a player as quick as Barba sniffing out an off-load to get through the middle.
"Benny's job at fullback is to do stuff like that and I'm sure if it's not me, whoever else is around, if there's half an opportunity to off-load, he'll be hanging around."
Barba and Hoffman could swap positions during the game, a tactic Parker said would not cause any dramas.
"They're both great fullbacks. They're both great players no matter where they are and they're both very good attacking players," he said.
"If they switch, I don't see it being a drama."