The stakes are about as high as they can be for the Brisbane Broncos this week, but their preparations for the clash against St George Illawarra have been thrown into chaos by illness and injury.

As a result, 20-year-old Brendan Piakura will be named to start his first game of the year, adding to the one first-grade game he has to his name so far.

Piakura’s promotion has been forced after it was revealed that Corey Jensen was infected with COVID. Though Jordan Riki was initially named as a replacement, he’s also been missing from the first-team training sessions with an eye injury.

Zac Hosking has been training in his place, and it now looks likely Piakura will be called onto the bench for the important clash.

Piakura has had to wait a long time to right the wrongs of his NRL debut back in Round 24, 2021. Under a mountain of hype he took the field in the second half, but lasted just six minutes before he was sin-binned and put on report for a late hit on Braydon Trindall. He was then suspended for two games and hasn’t been seen in the NRL since.

Piakura has also made his debut for the Cook Islands in 2022.

The Broncos must win against the Dragons, and hope the Tigers can pull off a miracle against Canberra, to keep their faint finals hopes alive. The match kicks off at 5.30pm Saturday from Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Kogarah.