Dale Copley of the Broncos in action during the round five NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on March 30, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia.
Dale Copley of the Broncos in action during the round five NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on March 30, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia. Bradley Kanaris - Getty Images

Dale cops pressure for spot

NO ONE at the Broncos can say exactly when winger Jharal Yow Yeh will return this year.

Yow Yeh suffered a horrific injury against South Sydney in March last year, fracturing his right ankle in a sickening collision with opposite number Dylan Farrell.

Last year's replacement Dale Copley handled himself well in trying circumstances, running in four tries in his 15 games.

And despite not knowing when the Queensland and Australian representative would return, Copley said youngsters Aaron Whitchurch and Lachlan Maranta would provide stern challenges for his jersey after making their debuts last year.

"They both got a taste of first grade last year and they'll want more this year," Copley said.

"Aaron had back surgery over the off-season which slowed him down a bit, but Lachy is flying at the moment."

Copley also suffered a fractured leg in round 19 last season, before returning in round 26 against Penrith, saying he has no more fears about further injury.

If the challengers for his spot weren't enough, Copley knows he must produce a big 2013 - he comes off contract at the end of this season.

"There is definitely (motivation to play well)," he said.

"I don't like to think about it too much, but Brisbane is home for me and this is where I want to stay.

"The competition won't just come from Jharal - there are a lot of good players in our system."

While only 21, Copley made his NRL debut in 2009 and has played 38 games for Brisbane.

He is not afraid to make himself known at training now, and believes the Broncos are ready to improve on last year's eighth-placed finish.

"I've been around a couple of years now. I'm confident in the system we have here and comfortable with everything," Copley said.

"There was a lot of disappointment on where we finished last year, but I can see a lot of improvement in the boys already."I've done a lot of contact work and there are no problems or fears about my leg."

Copley believes new recruit and half Scott Prince's experience has been well accepted by everyone at the club.

"He's played for a number of years now and at the highest levels of rugby league," he said.

"That experience and knowledge he's brought has really helped our younger players."



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