WITH Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire suspended, the loss of a third representative forward in Matt Gillett has robbed Brisbane's pack of more than 500 games of NRL experience against the Roosters in Sydney tomorrow night.
It's a massive edge to give up to a Roosters side hurting badly after having their finals hopes dashed last weekend, and no doubt looking to take out their anger and frustrations this weekend as the reality sets in.
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett no sooner named Gillett to return from a shoulder injury that he suffered in the third State of Origin game in Sydney earlier this month than he announced after training he would not play.
"He's close but right now he's just not fit to play, hopefully next week,” Bennett said.
With Bennett naming a young and inexperienced interchange bench of Herman Ese'ese, Tevita Pangai jnr, Jai Arrow and Joe Ofahengaue, the Roosters' tactics will be to take them on through the middle.
"It's part of our future. It's the pain you have to take sometimes. The four guys in the interchange have probably got less than 20 games between them,” said Bennett after ruling Gillett out.
"Hopefully in four or five years' time they'll be the guys that will be leading the team and forming the forward pack.”
The Roosters have lost damaging prop and ball-runner Jared Waerea-Hargreaves but they still have a lot of punch and power up front with young Dylan Napa and fellow prop Isaac Liu, and the dangerous edge games of Boyd Cordner and Mitch Aubusson.
While Brisbane will be desperate to atone for last week's below-par performance against Penrith, the game could come down to its bench, which lacks the hardness of the Roosters. The Sydneysiders can bring on Sam Moa, Origin player Aidan Guerra, the very promising Ryan Matterson and big Kane Evans, who will be a handful when coach Trent Robinson injects him into the clash.
Bennett has mixed things up at training this week in the hope of freshening up his players and getting their attitude and desire back to the level it needs to be.
"I know things will look after themselves when we start playing consistent football. The challenge now is to get everyone back to the way we started the season,” he said.
"We have to get some fun back into training and not listen or buy into all the criticism that is out there.”
"For me personally I know how we can play regardless of injuries. I'm not worried about the result tonight, I just want them to get back and play the way I know they can play and should be playing.”
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