Broncos name three NRL debutants - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos name three NRL debutants

09/03/2010 07:14:54 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane coach Ivan Henjak is confident teenage fullback Corey Norman can handle the pressure of a round one NRL debut on Friday night when the Broncos take on North Queensland.

Henjak will gamble on youth for the Suncorp Stadium blockbuster, with Norman, 18, joining bench players Matt Gillett, 21, and apprentice electrician Mitchell Dodds, 20, as three debutants in the squad.

Throw in players like centres Gerard Beale, 19, and Israel Folau, 20, and hooker Andrew McCullough, 20, and the squad bears a resemblance to the Baby Broncos outfits patched together during the Origin periods.

Beale, who's been on scholarship with the Broncos since age 16, made his NRL debut in round nine last year and finished that match against Manly, despite suffering a broken wrist.

Norman was given the nod head of Josh Hoffman, who has been the understudy to AFL-bound Karmichael Hunt since making his NRL debut in June 2008.

"It wouldn't have mattered who we picked at fullback, it would've been a gamble," Henjak told reporters on Tuesday.

"The fellows who have trained there have done very well but Corey got the nod.

"He's got a few extra tricks up his sleeve so we've gone with him."

Norman, who played five-eighth in last year's under-20s Broncos side, can expect a barrage of testing high balls from Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston on Friday.

"It won't worry Corey," Henjak said.

"Our challenge will be to get pressure on their kickers and hopefully give Corey a little bit more time."

Asked how Norman would handle such a daunting debut, Henjak said: "We're going to find out a lot more about Corey Norman on Friday night.

"It'll be a sellout crowd, a really big atmosphere and an intense game.

"So far he's been good. He's quite confident in himself and the players are confident in him.

"He's a natural ball-player. That helps us in not changing too much the way we've been playing the past six years with Karmichael there."

Henjak said he wanted to send a strong message that the players had to earn their jumpers.

In the past the Broncos have been able to carry players out of form because others have taken up the slack but that scenario no longer applies.

"I just hope the message is there that you can't get complacent about your position even though it's a young team," Henjak said.

"Players need to make sure they're performing well every week."

Henjak could find no room for regular first-graders Ashton Sims and Lagi Setu or former Parramatta halfback Tim Smith, who has impressed in pre-season trials but didn't fit into the balance of the squad.

"It wasn't easy coming up with a 17 and that's a healthy sign for the club," the coach said.

Broncos squad: Corey Norman, Antonio Winterstein, Gerard Beale, Israel Folau, Denan Kemp, Darren Lockyer (capt), Peter Wallace, Nick Kenny, Andrew McCullough, Scott Anderson, Sam Thaiday, Ben Te'o, Corey Parker. Interchange: Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire, Mitchell Dodds.

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