Brisbane face the daunting prospect of having to beat Parramatta to keep their season alive, but Darren Lockyer knows the weakness to target to ensure their survival lasts another week.
Broncos legend Darren Lockyer has urged Brisbane to unleash rampaging David Fifita on Mitchell Moses on Sunday following revelations the Eels star is the worst defensive halfback in the NRL.
Moses leads the NRL for try assists this season but the Broncos are primed to expose a defensive chink in his armour as the 108kg Fifita prepares to monster him in the sudden-death finals showdown at Bankwest Stadium.
Statistics provided by Fox Lab show Moses is among the NRL’s five worst defenders this season, having missed a whopping 81 tackles from 24 games this season.
Of all halfbacks, Moses and Ben Hunt (81) share the ignominy of being the most fragile tacklers in the 2019 NRL premiership.
Moses has had a magnificent season with ball in hand, amassing a league-high 24 try assists, but four-time premiership-winning pivot Lockyer believes the Eels No.7 can crack if the Broncos repeatedly test him.
The playmaker defends on Parramatta’s right edge – directly opposite the blockbusting Fifita – and at 85kg will be giving away 23kg trying to halt Brisbane’s Origin wrecking ball.
“The Broncos have to pressure Moses,” Lockyer said.
“First and foremost, the Broncos need to make Moses tackle and build fatigue.
“Moses defends on the right edge, which puts him fairly in the firing line with David Fifita.
“They need to find ways to tire Moses out. The Broncos have to stay at him. They can’t just try him out for 15 minutes and then go away from it.
“If they run traffic at him all game, it will tire him out in attack.
“While Moses has been really good with the ball this season, the Broncos forwards must keep working him over so it saps his energy when he has the ball.
“And if they apply kick pressure when he is in possession, that will go a long way towards shutting the Eels down.”
Fifita has already had joy against the Eels once this season, steamrolling three Eels defenders with a solo try that kickstarted their comeback to defeat Parramatta 17-16 at Suncorp Stadium two weeks ago.
Moses missed four tackles that night against the Broncos. Twice this season he has missed seven tackles.
Now he must again mark-up against the hulking Fifita and explore strategies to avoid being exposed on the fringes against a much bigger man.
Broncos veteran Alex Glenn says Moses will be one of several Eels on their hit-list of targets as Brisbane look to first win the midfield, which would give Fifita the latitude to terrorise Parramatta out wide.
“I think if you put anyone in front of Dave, he will be hard to stop,” Glenn said of the Moses-Fifita contest.
“It’s definitely a strike force for us to put Davey up on Moses, but in saying that they have strike weapons all across the field.
“It’s not just targeting him (Moses). We want to be strong through the middle so that (Anthony) Milford and ‘Darbs’ (five-eighth Darius Boyd) can play off the back of that.”
Lockyer says Moses, who turns 25 on Tuesday, must prove he has the mental toughness to break the Eels’ 33-year title drought.
“The big question is whether Moses can take a team to a premiership and execute in the finals,” he said.
“Mitchell has got himself into the best possible form to achieve that, but if the Broncos win on Sunday, it won’t enhance his reputation in big games.”