Pool: Rangitoto Pool (Storm, Tigers, Knights, Broncos)
Squad: Lachlan Barr, Adam Blair, Darius Boyd, Gerome Burns, Mitch Cronin, Matt Gillett, Jordan Kahu, Sam Lavea, Matiu Love-Henry, Benji Marshall, Andrew McCullough, Anthony Milford, Francis Molo, Corey Oates, Jonus Pearson, James Roberts, Gehamat Shibasaki, Jaydn Su’A
vs Melbourne Storm (12:15pm Feb 4 AEDT)
vs Newcastle Knights (3:45pm Feb 4 AEDT)
vs Wests Tigers (10:15am Feb 5 AEDT)
Wayne Bennett has surprised many by naming a squad this strong for the Nines, with a large contingent of rep stars in the squad. A dozen players in the squad have NRL experience while half of those have international experience.
Anthony Milford and recruit Benji Marshall will have the first opportunity to forge a combination together with Ben Hunt announcing that he’ll depart Brisbane at the end of 2017. While Hunt remains at the Broncos, Bennett has been known to drop players when they sign early for another club, most notably Justin Hodges in 2001.
James Roberts has also been named as he looks to put recent controversies behind him, with Holden Cup star Gehamat Shibasaki breathing down the speedster’s neck. In fact, David Mead is the only member of Brisbane’s backline not to make the Nines squad after the recruit suffered a minor knee injury at training last week.
Who To Watch: Darius Boyd. The Dally M Fullback of the Year looks certain to carry his strong form for the Kangaroos into the tournament, with Boyd reaching new heights in 2016. Boyd touched down for 9 tries last year, while assisting in 13 more. Boyd will be everywhere this weekend, whether it be running off the hip of Anthony Milford or putting a pass onto the chest of Corey Oates, Darius can do it all.
Why They Can Win: Class. Brisbane have a lot of raw talent in their squad, but the talent amongst the senior players is undeniable. In Boyd, Milford, Marshall and McCullough they have a very classy yet unpredictable spine, with superb finishers Corey Oates, Jordan Kahu and James Roberts running down the edges. The Broncos are stacked for talent, and are sure to show it in Auckland.
Why They Can’t Win: Power. Adam Blair and Matt Gillett are incumbent internationals, but besides them Brisbane are fairly lean on size. Youngsters Francis Molo and Jayden Su’A feature in the squad as well, but Brisbane are going to need size to go with the speed and precision of their team if they are to trouble other teams.
Prediction: Anthony Milford could nearly bamboozle nine defenders on his lonesome, so it’ll be magic to see what he can do at the Nines alongside some of the NRL’s elite. Boyd is an early candidate for MVP with his abilities, while Adam Blair’s nifty offloads are sure to cause some havoc. Brisbane have all the right ingredients for a tournament victory, and they just might do it.