Brisbane’s NRL Nines tournament has been rocked by a pair of high-profile injuries as the club prepares to unleash two of the most devastating forwards on their rivals.
Broncos captain Alex Glenn and young gun Xavier Coates have been ruled out of the NRL Nines this weekend due to injury.
The huge blow for the club comes just days out from the tournament where they start as favourites after naming a star-studded squad.
Boom centre Kotoni Staggs will be pitchforked into the side for this weekend’s tournament.
Broncos Nines coach Kurt Richards confirmed he was forced into a late reshuffle ahead of the squad’s departure.
“Alex and Xavier won’t be playing in the Nines,” he said.
“‘Lexi’ felt a slight twinge in his hammy early in the training session (on Tuesday).
“Xavier had a bit of a niggle and after training he pulled up tight.
“The injuries aren’t serious but with the five-hour flight to Perth, we don’t want to take any risks at this time of the year.
“We weren’t sure if Kotoni Staggs would be fit but he has recovered from a foot injury so he will be added to the squad.”
It was set to be Glenn’s first outing in Broncos colours since the 31-year-old was named as the club’s captain last month.
However, the veteran Bronco will now sit out this weekend’s tournament as he recovers from the minor hamstring injury.
Staggs suffered a broken toe during the Tonga v Australia Test match last year and has only returned to full training in the past fortnight but the club is confident he is fit enough to play.
BRISBANE’S BASH BROS CLEARED FOR NINES
David Fifita and Payne Haas will put their Bali saga behind them when the hulking Broncos duo are given a licence to rip and tear in the NRL Nines tournament starting in Perth this Friday.
It has been an emotional off-season for the Broncos young guns, whose summer holiday to Indonesia ended in strife when Fifita was locked in a jail cell following an alcohol-fuelled incident outside a Bali nightspot.
With a terrified Fifita having been detained by Bali police, the Broncos backrower turned to his good mate Haas to provide support through the worst ordeal of his burgeoning NRL career.
Now the pair are back in comfortable environs at Red Hill and ready to terrorise NRL rivals with their collective 227kg of forward might in a Nines tournament perfectly suited to their powerhouse frames.
Buoyed by his international debut in last October’s World Nines, Fifita loves the nine-a-side format so much he begged Anthony Seibold to let him loose in Perth and the Broncos coach happily obliged.
The Broncos will enter the fifth edition of the tournament as raging favourites to win the title and Brisbane Nines coach Kurt Richards backed Fifita and Haas to lead the way.
“Dave is a real talent – he gets excited like a 12-year-old kid,” Richards said.
“Ever since that World (Nines), he has been excited about getting back on the park and playing that format of the game again.
“There is a little bit more space and more one-on-one opportunities in Nines, but everyone else around him has to do their job and create opportunities for Dave.”
Haas could be the front-row revelation of the Perth Nines. Despite his 118kg frame, the 20-year-old is one of the fittest players at the Broncos and possesses the workrate and engine to revel in the open spaces.
Richards said Broncos legend Corey Parker, who is briefly coming out of retirement at age 37 for a Nines cameo, has been helping Haas and Fifita with their ability to use the ball in traffic.
“That is Corey Parker’s role with the forwards in attack and one thing he has tried to build with all our forwards is that short pass,” Richards said.
“They (Haas and Fifita) are big and strong and can run over and around people but if we can play direct and get short passes at inside shoulders I think we can really expose opponents through the middle.
“Payne is still building on it and has got good hands and he will continue to focus and work on that this year.”
Rocked by last year’s 58-0 finals horror show against the Eels, Richards said the Broncos are keen to make a statement this year – starting with a Nines trophy triumph.
“If there is one thing we want our fans to think and feel about when they watch us play is that they are a group of players that work really hard for each other and never give up,” he said.
“I suppose we want to take that away from the Nines and into the 13-a-side competition that we work hard for each other.”