Broncos coach Kevin Walters hasn’t ruled out a selection surprise for Brisbane’s Good Friday showdown against Melbourne.
Broncos coach Kevin Walters hasn’t ruled out a selection surprise for Brisbane’s Good Friday showdown against Melbourne.

Walters tries his best to bamboozle Storm

Broncos coach Kevin Walters is playing selection mind games with Storm rival Craig Bellamy over whether Brisbane playmaker Tom Dearden will be rushed into the side for Friday night's clash at AAMI Park.

Dearden was originally named 18th man for the Storm showdown, just as he was the previous week when he was included on an extended bench for the Broncos' round-three clash against the Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium.

Dearden was ultimately a late inclusion for the Bulldogs clash, scoring a try off the bench in Brisbane's 24-0 victory, and Walters is again planning to deploy the off-contract rookie in a utility role off interchange.

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Speaking at his pre-game press conference on Thursday, Walters confirmed Dearden would come into the 17, only to bizarrely backflip just minutes later, suggesting the playmaker would be a part of Brisbane's 19-man squad.

Walters will finalise his starting 17 on game day and is clearly doing his best to bamboozle Bellamy, but his comments suggest Dearden will return to the side at the expense of forward utility John Asiata.

 

"Tom will come into the 17 again, we feel he did enough to retain his position in the side," Walters said. "John Asiata will drop out of the 17.

"Depending on the situation of the game, there are some big forwards, so we won't introduce Tom too much, too early.

"He can play a good role for us off the bench, whether it's through the middle or the hooking role or in the halves. He has a lot of bases covered for us and that's why he is in the 17.

"He is versatile and we feel he can bring lots of energy when he's on the field."

In the aftermath of last week's defeat of the Bulldogs, Walters indicated he wanted more minutes from Dearden, suggesting starting halfback Brodie Croft could be in the firing line for the Storm showdown.

But Croft has retained the No.7 jumper, giving him the chance to shine against the Melbourne club that cut him to the Broncos in 2019, believing he lacked the game management to take the Storm to a premiership.

"We feel Brodie did enough last week to maintain his position in the side," Walters said.

"I want to see more of the same from Brodie. I thought he had a strong game last week, he created some good opportunities. There were some opportunities he missed and didn't take, particularly around his communication with the forwards and setting up the play.

"Defensively he has been very strong and he will have to be again (on Friday night). We are looking forward to a similar performance, particularly that second 40 minutes where we controlled the ball and controlled the tempo of the game."

Kevin Walters is playing selection mind games ahead of the Broncos clash against Melbourne Storm. Picture: Liam Kidston
Kevin Walters is playing selection mind games ahead of the Broncos clash against Melbourne Storm. Picture: Liam Kidston

The Broncos have lost eight consecutive games against the Storm dating back to 2016, but Walters is hoping the return of props Payne Haas and Matt Lodge can spearhead a Brisbane boilover.

"Payne feels he owes the team and it's great to have him back (from suspension)," Walters said. "He is a great guy to bring back into the side, a powerful forward and he and Matt Lodge will bring some grunt to our forwards.

"They are two of the better middle forwards in our squad so we welcome them back with open arms against a Storm side who have one of the best packs in the competition."

 

Originally published as Walters tries his best to bamboozle Storm


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