THE Broncos have suffered a blow with in-form winger Jordan Kahu ruled out of tomorrow night's blockbuster clash against the Eels after succumbing to a groin injury.
The Kiwi Test utility has played through the pain barrier for several weeks but failed to appear at Brisbane's captain's run today ahead of the Broncos' final regular-season home game at Suncorp Stadium.
Kahu will be replaced on the right wing by David Mead, who has impressed in the Intrust Super Cup since his own return from injury three weeks ago.
It is Brisbane's second setback this week, with Broncos coach Wayne Bennett opting for 19-year-old young gun Jaydn Su'A on the bench after Tevita Pangai Junior injured his hamstring against the Dragons last week.
Parramatta shocked the Broncos 28-14 at ANZ Stadium in round 21 and Bennett is wary of the fifth-placed Eels without Kahu and Pangai Junior.
"Jordan has a groin problem that he's had most of the year and he needs a week off, he will be back next week," Bennett said.
"Mead has been very good for us this year and Jonus Pearson is here too. David has played the last three weeks so he is ready to go.
"Parramatta have had a couple of losses since they played us but they got some form back last week. It will be a really good game of football with quality players.
"We know they can play, that's the only handle I need to know. We respect them. They are obviously a much better team than they were last year, they will be in the playoffs, so we have our hands full tomorrow night."
Kodi Nikorima faces one of the biggest tests of his NRL career when the Broncos halfback squares off against Parramatta sensation Mitchell Moses.
Nikorima finetuned his playmaking skills at today's captain's run after Bennett declared he was "off the pace" in last week's hard-fought defeat of the Dragons.
Nikorima was comprehensively overshadowed by Broncos scrumbase partner Anthony Milford, who put the Eels on notice with a sizzling display against the Red V to keep Brisbane in the top two.
But the quick-stepping Broncos halves face a formidable Parramatta pairing in Corey Norman and Moses, who have forged a slick union since the latter's mid-season departure from the Wests Tigers.
Despite the criticism of Nikorima, Bennett insists he is picking and sticking with his halves in the run to the playoffs.
"I'm not changing teams now," he said. "They have all had their moments this year. Kodi has been great this week at training, his form overall has been good and he will be good tomorrow night.
"We know what our best team is and that's our job, to do the job on the field every week.
"That's where I'm going with Anthony and Kodi, I won't be changing."
The Broncos can wrap-up second spot with victory over the Eels, but Bennett admits every coach has lingering doubts about whether their team is peaking at the right time for a title assault.
Asked what worries him, Bennett said: "That we just don't turn up and not play well on a given day.
"We have been playing well. As a coach, there are always things in the back of your mind about what can go wrong, but right now they are doing a lot of things well and tomorrow night will be a good test for them."
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