NRL ladder-leaders Brisbane face a test of their forward depth after form prop Adam Blair copped a two-match ban.
Blair ironed out young Gold Coast playmaker Kane Elgey with a late shoulder charge in the during Brisbane’s win over the Titans last Friday and entered an early guilty plea on Tuesday which puts him out of the next two clashes, with Manly (away) and Canterbury (home).
Blair found some of his best form in recent weeks and his suspension is a blow to a forward pack already missing injured Josh Maguire.
“Defensively he (Blair) is everywhere in the middle and he really has been the key to locking that down for us this year,” said halfback Ben Hunt.
“Losing him for a couple of weeks is going to be a bit of a challenge for one of those younger blokes that will come in.”
It’s anticipated Jarrod Wallace will start in Blair’s absence with teenage forward Joe Ofahengaue likely to come into the squad on the bench.
Hunt believed Wallace would embrace the extra responsibility.
“I think the last three or four weeks (Wallace) has been in great form and playing some great footy,” he said.
Broncos fullback Darius Boyd welcomed Ofahengaue’s return to first grade, the highly-rated 19-year-old having played five NRL games already this year.
“I remember coming into pre-season he was very fit and works hard,” Boyd said.
“He’s a good young kid.
“(Blair) has been a key player for us this year in the forward pack and he dominates the ruck.
“He’s a leader, he talks a lot.
“We’ll miss him but Joffa (Ofahenagaue) gets his chance and I’m sure he’ll do well.”