BRONCOS skipper Justin Hodges and prop Adam Blair have both been ruled out of Friday’s derby clash with the Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium as Brisbane chase their fourth consecutive win of 2015.
In a major blow to the Broncos winning run, Hodges is out with a torn hamstring while Blair has been left out of Wayne Bennett’s 18-man team due to a severe corked thigh.
Dale Copley was on Tuesday named to play right centre for the Broncos with Sam Thaiday promoted off the bench for the first time since round two to play in the starting front-row.
Thaiday had been told in the pre-season his days as a prop were over, but the performances of Matt Gillett on the right edge have forced Bennett to push the former skipper back into the middle of the field.
Thaiday won’t be without reinforcements off the bench with Jarrod Wallace to be joined by fellow front-rowers Mitchell Dodds, Mitch Garbutt and Francis Molo on what is a five-man bench named by Bennett including utility Kodi Nikorima.
Copley is back in first grade for the first time since a calf strain ruled him out of the club’s first win over Cronulla three weeks ago and said he was ready to step up in the absence of Hodges.
“I obviously got through (Queensland Cup game last weekend) unscathed and my body has no ill effects from the game,” Copley said.
“It was good to have a run and get some footy under my belt going into this week.
“(Calf strains) can be pretty temperamental. I think I’ve been pretty lucky I haven’t had too many issues, it has healed pretty quickly.
“I’ve seen a few of the boys here struggled with calves for a long time with re-tearing and that stuff but I haven’t experienced any of that, it’s been a pretty seamless recovery actually.”
The Titans meanwhile have made just the one change, with Kierran Moseley to slot straight in for suspended hooker Beau Falloon while Lachlan Burr and Matt White were added to an extended bench.
TITANS v BRONCOS
Friday, 7.35pm Qld time (8.35pm AEDT) at Cbus Stadium
Titans: 1. Josh Hoffman 2. Anthony Don 3. James Roberts 4. William Zillman 5. David Mead 6. Aidan Sezer 7. Kane Elgey 8. Luke Douglas 9. Kierran Moseley 10. Nate Myles 11. Ryan James 12. Dave Taylor 13. Greg Bird. Interchange 14. Eddy Pettybourne 16. Ryan Simpkins 17. Matt Srama 18. Matt White 19. Lachlan Bur
Broncos: 1 Jordan Kahu 2 Corey Oates 3 Jack Reed 4 Dale Copley 5 Lachlan Maranta 6 Anthony Milford 7 Ben Hunt 8 Josh McGuire 9 Andrew McCullough 10 Sam Thaiday 11 Alex Glenn 12 Matt Gillett 13 Corey Parker. Interchange: 14 Jarrod Wallace 15 Mitch Garbutt 16 Mitchell Dodds 17 Kodi Nikorima 18 Francis Molo.