Ben Barba looks set to don Brisbane’s No.6 jersey after Josh Hoffman broke down at training ahead of Friday night’s NRL clash with South Sydney.
Finally comfortable in Brisbane’s No.1 jersey, Ben Barba may yet don another number on his back in Friday night’s NRL clash with South Sydney after pivot Josh Hoffman broke down at training.
Hoffman left the Thursday session early with a suspected Achilles strain – an injury scare not only felt in the Broncos camp but also New Zealand ahead of the looming trans-Tasman Test.
And Australia also received some food for thought when Broncos coach Anthony Griffin again did not consider Test backrower Sam Thaiday (calf).
Griffin would not rule out Hoffman for the Suncorp Stadium clash but the Kiwi playmaker appeared at long odds after lasting just 20 minutes before collapsing at training.
“He’s had some soreness there for a few weeks,” Griffin said.
“We will have to wait until we get a scan to clear him of an Achilles injury and we’ll work back from there.”
Griffin said Barba was in the mix to wear the No.6 jersey barely a week after breaking the shackles as Brisbane fullback in last round’s 32-6 win in Newcastle.
Barba – who ended his try-scoring drought last round – seemed the obvious choice at pivot after alternating on-field roles with Hoffman this season.
Lachlan Maranta comes into the squad and is likely to slot into a reshuffled backline at wing with Dale Copley at centre and Justin Hodges at fullback.
“In attack he gets a lot of second receiver ball anyway with the way he plays, we will sort through it,” Griffin said of Barba.
Brisbane may have a replacement for Hoffman but Kiwi selectors will be scratching their heads before naming their Test team on Sunday.
Hoffman had loomed as their No.6 following injuries to Manly playmaker Kieran Foran (knee) and Thomas Leuluai (groin).
Griffin hinted Australian selectors may also make some tough calls after admitting he didn’t know whether Test incumbent Thaiday and veteran centre Hodges (Achilles) would be right to play in Friday week’s trans-Tasman Test in Sydney.
Thaiday will miss a second straight game while Hodges has just returned from an eight-month layoff.
But Griffin kept his fingers crossed for Broncos backrower Matt Gillett to break into the line-up.
“(Australia coach) Tim (Sheens) normally sticks with what works in the past and they have just won a World Cup,” he said.
“But he (Gillett) is certainly putting performances out there that have put him in the frame.”