Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has a big call to make. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has a big call to make. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Crunch time: Seibold reveals battle for Broncos' No.1 jersey

BRONCOS coach Anthony Seibold says Jack Bird is now a serious contender to start the sesaon at fullback, admitting Jamayne Isaako's erratic performance at the NRL Nines has rung alarm bells.

Forget Bird versus Cowboys rival Valentine Holmes - the only backfield duel Broncos coach Anthony Seibold cares about is the internal showdown involving Isaako in Saturday night's derby trial in Cairns.

At the start of preseason, Seibold declared Isaako was the frontrunner to succeed Darius Boyd at fullback, but a disappointing Nines campaign has opened the door for the rejuvenated Bird.

Returning from a knee reconstruction, Bird was slick in his comeback against the Capras last week, cementing the No.1 jumper  against the Cowboys ahead of Isaako, who will wear No.14 in the derby trial at Barlow Park.

Seibold plans to give both men a 40-minute hit-out, with the Broncos coach revealing Bird has the No.1 jumper to lose, in the strongest sign yet the coach will embark on a position switch for round one.

"I wouldn't say Jack is my first preference, but what I will say is that he has been rewarded with his performance from last weekend," he said.

Jack Bird. Picture: AAP
Jack Bird. Picture: AAP

"I don't know who will play that position (for the NRL premiership opener against the Cowboys on March 13), but Jack and Jamayne have done plenty of reps at fullback in the preseason.

"I do think the No.1 is a real shootout.

"I'm a big believer that if you get the jersey, and Jack had the No.1 jersey last week … if you perform well, you keep the jersey.

"That makes sense to me."

 

 

While Nines football is not a true barometer of Isaako's ability in the 13-a-side format, Seibold concedes the Kiwi Test winger has to lift to make a successful conversion to fullback.

"Jamayne has to work on some parts of his game, he knows what they are," he said.

"I wasn't particularly happy with his performance over in the Nines, but I have been clear with Jamayne on what he needs to do better.

"In some ways Nine is very different to 13-a-side so they (Isaako and Bird) will split the game this weekend.

"One thing I will say about Jamayne is that I see him as a fullback, not a winger. I persisted with him on the wing last year, but I think his best position is fullback.

"I come in with an open mind, but one thing I do know is competition for spots kills off complacency."

Seibold has named a strong squad with Anthony Milford and Brodie Croft to start in the halves.

Skipper Alex Glenn makes his 2020 debut after missing the Nines with a hamstring injury, while Tevita Pangai Jr will start at prop in place of the injured Matt Lodge (knee).

TEAMS

Brisbane Broncos: 1. Jack Bird 2. Herbie Farnworth 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Jesse Arthars 5. Xavier Coates 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Tevita Pangai Jnr 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11.Alex Glenn (c) 12. Ethan Bullemor 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Jamayne Isaako 15. Richie Kennar 16. Tesi Niu 17. Tom Dearden 18. Cory Paix 19. Thomas Flegler 20. Joe Ofahengaue 21. Rhys Kennedy. 22. Jamil Hopoate

North Queensland Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Murray Taulagi 3. Justin O'Neill 4. Dan Russell 5. Connelly Lemuelu 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Francis Molo 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Coen Hess 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Reuben Cotter 15. Mitch Dunn 16. Corey Jensen 17. Peter Hola 18. Tom Gilbert 19. Emry Pere 20. Elijah Anderson 21. Daejarn Asi

Jamayne Isaako. Picture: Annette Dew
Jamayne Isaako. Picture: Annette Dew


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