The stage is set for an epic showdown between rival props Payne Haas and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves after Brisbane predicted “fireworks” in Thursday’s NRL clash with the Sydney Roosters.
A week after being outmuscled by Parramatta, the Broncos pack looked set to take another hit with busy hooker Jake Turpin expected to withdraw with a knee injury, handing former halfback Cory Paix an NRL debut.
Brisbane’s forwards already appeared on the ropes, with captain Alex Glenn (leg) joining David Fifita (knee) and Tevita Pangai (ban) on the sidelines after coming off second best against a brutal Eels.
But Brisbane co-captain Pat Carrigan backed his big men to come out swinging against the two-time defending NRL premiers, led by 20-year-old giant Haas.
After a breakthrough 2019 in which he earned NSW selection as a teenager, lock Carrigan said Haas was keen to show he was no “one year wonder” this season.
And he believed there was no better way to get the ball rolling by standing up to feared Roosters enforcer Waerea-Hargreaves.
“I have a lot of respect for Jared. I can remember sitting on the couch and watching him play but I don’t think tomorrow night anyone will give him a free pass,” said 22-year-old Carrigan.
“I am excited to test myself against one of the best in the competition (and) someone like Payno doesn’t want to be a one year wonder.
“As a pack, there is no sugar coating it. We have to go toe to toe with them.
“There will probably be some fireworks. I am looking forward to it.”
Carrigan – who will share the reins with halfback Brodie Croft in Glenn’s absence – said taking on the Roosters proved an ideal chance to bounce back after their pack came under fire following their 34-6 last round thumping from Parramatta.
“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” he said of the Roosters.
“Any time if you back yourself and believe in your training you lick your lips at any pack.”
Croft said on Wednesday that Turpin would be “given every chance” to prove his fitness.
But Carrigan all but confirmed Paix would run out on Thursday and make his NRL debut for the Broncos along with bench utility, 19-year-old Tongan international Tesi Niu.
“He is a different kind of nine, he plays a bit like (South Sydney’s) Damien Cook, a running nine,” Carrigan said of Paix.
“I think he will be a blessing. I am interested to see how he goes.”
STATS THAT MATTER
* Brisbane are aiming for their seventh straight win against the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium
* Brisbane have conceded the third most points (24.3 per game) and are equal second for linebreaks conceded (five per game with Canterbury)
* The Roosters have conceded five of their six tries down their right side but are one of two teams yet to concede one down their left.