The Brisbane Broncos have been forced into a late change ahead of their clash against the Newcastle Knights on Saturday evening.

Former Queensland rep Brenko Lee was set to make his first appearance in Kevin Walters’ starting side since Round 19, but has been ruled out of the contest after experiencing hamstring tightness. Lee was unable to attend the Captain’s Run on Friday after initially reporting the injury on Wednesday.

It’s a big blow for Lee as the Broncos fight for a home finals place, but the experienced centre will be replaced by 28-year-old Delouise Hoeter, who will play his fifth game of the 2022 campaign and 12th career game overall.

Hoeter has impressed in limited opportunities this year, scoring three tries in four appearances so far and averaging 132 running metres per game.

“It’s a good opportunity for Delouise in his preferred position,” said Broncos coach Kevin Walters.

“He’s always done a good job for us and we expect him to do the same against the Knights.”

Walters went on to address the Broncos’ sudden slide, with back to back losses against Wests Tigers and the Sydney Roosters arresting the Brisbane team’s recent progress and taking them from a top four prospect back to seventh – and still a mathematical chance of missing the finals altogether.

“We need to improve our start and our defence, they are two key areas for us and if we get them right everything will look after itself.

“We’re at home and we’ve got plenty to play for in front of our home fans, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The Broncos have also been boosted by the return of Te Maire Martin to the fullback role. The custodian was recently confirmed to have signed a three-year deal with the Warriors after the Broncos had secured the services of current Warrior Reece Walsh.

The Broncos take on the Knights at Suncorp Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.35pm Saturday (AEST).