Broncos beat Dogs, Tonga out of Origin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos beat Dogs, Tonga out of Origin

By Laine Clark 27/05/2006 11:25:53 PM Comments (0)

There was no Origin hangover for Brisbane but a selection headache looms for Queensland selectors after Bulldogs centre Willie Tonga tore a hamstring in the Broncos' 25-6 NRL win at Suncorp Stadium.

Indeed Maroons selectors were provided plenty of food for thought with Tonga's injury and Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett's declaration that several Maroons "didn't deserve" to be playing in Origin I.

Tonga was expected to replace injured Queensland centre Justin Hodges (hamstring) in Origin II at Brisbane on June 14.

But Bulldogs doctor Hugh Hazard said Tonga had "no chance" of lining up for the second interstate clash and may even miss game three after ruling the gamebreaker out for four to six weeks with a grade three hamstring tear.

"When I first did a strength test they said three to five (weeks) out and maybe worse. It's a long time to be out of football," Tonga said.

However, a frustrated Tonga was still hopeful of fighting his way into the Origin finale on July 5 in Melbourne.

"You always keep your fingers crossed. You never know what can happen," Tonga said.

The match was billed as a mini-Origin clash as 10 players backed up from Queensland's 17-16 loss to NSW last Wednesday.

This time the boys in blue walked off worse for wear as the Bulldogs' four-game winning run came to an abrupt halt.

Brisbane's sixth victory in seven games extended the Broncos' streak after an Origin clash to nine - a tally spanning three years.

While heartened by the way the Broncos' six-strong Maroons contingent backed up, Queensland selectors are back to square one in their search for a replacement for Hodges.

Tonga admitted he felt a hamstring twinge in his right leg in the pre-match warm-up and was replaced by Reni Maitua in the 28th minute after falling awkwardly.

Brisbane utility Shaun Berrigan - who started on the Maroons bench on Wednesday night - did his chances of replacing Hodges in the Queensland backline no harm, prompting high praise from Bennett.

Indeed Bennett had plenty of tips for Queensland selectors after obviously being a frustrated observer of the Origin opener.

"He (Berrigan) was wonderful tonight. He's got a bit of confidence. He was close to Queensland's best player on Wednesday night from what I could see and he played in the second row," Bennett said.

"He was an 88kg player in the second row."

Asked if more Brisbane players deserved to be in Origin II, Bennett added: "I thought some guys who got a jersey last time didn't deserve to so I don't know what they will do this time."

Asked if he would care to elaborate, Bennett said: "No, it's not my job."

Bennett said the full extent of Hodges' injury would be known on Monday.

Brisbane led 18-0 at halftime and eventually ran out five tries to one winners with winger Tame Tupou bagging a double.

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