It might not make up for surrendering home advantage but Manly are set to be boosted by the return of teenager Tom Trbojevic for Saturday’s NRL clash with Brisbane.
The Sea Eagles are hosting the Broncos at Suncorp as part of a double-header deal with the stadium which also includes a preceding fixture between Melbourne and North Queensland.
Trbojevic was initially expected to be out of action with a high-ankle sprain for at least another three weeks but travelled with the Sea Eagles to Brisbane and trained on Friday with the team.
Coach Trent Barrett said Trbojevic’s spot wouldn’t be confirmed until Saturday but it was looking encouraging for the 19-year-old.
“He’s a fair chance of playing,” Barrett said.
“Pita Godinet’s there as well. We’ll see how he pulls up in the morning, Tom’s got an injury that can change day to day but we did bring him up here with an eye to playing … it’ll depend on how he pulls up in the morning.”
Trbojevic’s return would be a welcome boost for the Sea Eagles who headed to Queensland without injured duo Brett Stewart and Steve Matai.
Barratt said while he and his players would prefer to be welcoming the Broncos to Brookvale instead of their opponent’s backyard, he can understand the reasons behind the venue swap.
He also believes a newspaper article in Brisbane in which former Queensland player Billy Moore criticises playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans will only inspire the under-siege Manly half.
“I found it quite bizarre that one of your own would come out and bag him today in the paper,” Barratt said.
“That’s a bit odd and it’ll work in our advantage. I’m expecting him to come out and play well.”
Brisbane have some selection issues of their own with Andrew McCullough and Alex Glenn injured, while prop Adam Blair is suspended after his chicken-wing tackle on Broncos teammate Sam Thaiday in last week’s Anzac Test.
Jarrod Wallace will come into the front row and young lock Jai Arrow is set to make his first-grade debut from the bench.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett says his team are eager to bounce back after a loss to Cronulla last time out.
“We just didn’t get off the bus, for whatever reason,” Bennett said of the Sharks defeat.
“Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday were our best and the rest were some way behind that.”
KEY MATCH STATS:
* Manly have been the home team at Suncorp Stadium before, claiming a 34-10 victory over the Broncos in 2011
* Brisbane have won all five of their matches at Suncorp this season, with an average winning margin of 23 points
* Manly captain Jamie Lyon has scored 10 tries and made 12 try assists in 20 matches against the Broncos
(Source: Fox Sports Stats)