Griffin to roll dice on two rookies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Griffin to roll dice on two rookies

Wayne Heming 07/03/2011 07:30:14 PM Comments (0)

Anthony Griffin is set launch his NRL coaching career with a roll of the dice on two unknown rookies.

And one of them was not even in the club's original 25-man squad.

They pair are Dane Gagai, a 20-year-old winger whose father Ray is a rugby league legend in north Queensland and 22 year-old Queensland Cup centre Jack Reed, who reminds some fans of former Cowboy Paul Bowman.

They are tipped to make their debuts against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night in front of a crowd of more than 45,000.

With glamour centre Justin Hodges unable to train on Monday because of a niggling hamstring tear that will delay his NRL comeback after sitting out 2010, Reed and another youngster, Gerard Beale, will occupy the centres in the season opener.

Their inclusion will see Brisbane take the field with one of their youngest ever first game backlines in years - the average is just 23.

However, take veteran skipper Darren Lockyer out of the equation and the average drops to 21.5 years.

Altogether, the Brisbane backline has played a total of 488 games or an average of 71 games per man.

But without Lockyer (333 games) and halfback Peter Wallace (85 games), it drops to 14 games per player.

Reed will be hoping to follow in the path blazed by another former Brisbane Norths discovery Matt Gillett, who burst onto the NRL scene last year in a rookie-of-the-year debut season, scoring 12 tries.

Former Queensland and Australian halfback Mark Murray, who tipped Gillett to shine in his first year, believes Reed is an NRL player in the making, but more as a back-rower than centre.

"Jack's a different type of footballer to Gillett and I don't know that he could be rookie of the year in his first season," said Murray.

"We nominated him to do an off-season with Brisbane and I'm not surprised he is not coming back (to Norths).

"He's a NRL regular when he gets the time to prove it.

"Initially, I thought that might happen next year but with what he's done in the trials I won't be surprised if it happens this year.

"He can play centre at the moment but I think his right position in the NRL will back-row."

Griffin's other selection issue is whether to play Sam Thaiday in the front-row with Ben Hannant, although Shane Tronc could be preferred because of his size against the Cowboys.

Thaiday and Gillett would form a dangerous attacking second-row, allowing Ben Te'o to deliver a knock-out punch off the bench.

Bookmakers Sportingbet Australian reported strong support for Brisbane over the weekend with their premiership odds tumbling from $26 to $17 on the back of several bets -- including one to win $100,000.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, were forced to train on a hockey field on artificial grass on Monday after heavy rain bogged their training field.

Forward Gavin Cooper, who was not expected to be available until round two, has declared himself ready for the clash with Brisbane.

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