Tevita Pangai Junior (left) and Matt Lodge are seen during the Brisbane Broncos training session at Red Hill in Brisbane, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The Broncos will play the Wests Tigers in Sydney on Friday. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING
Tevita Pangai Junior (left) and Matt Lodge are seen during the Brisbane Broncos training session at Red Hill in Brisbane, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The Broncos will play the Wests Tigers in Sydney on Friday. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

Seibold to change up front row for Roosters

Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold is banking on the bulk of 117kg enforcer Matt Lodge to give the Broncos some front-row muscle in this Thursday night's blockbuster against the Roosters at the SCG.

Lodge completed a two-match suspension following Brisbane's 25-24 loss to the Dragons last Thursday night and will be pitchforked straight into the front-row for the Broncos' daunting road trip to face the defending premiers.

The Broncos could confront a depleted Bondi engine-room, with key hooker Jake Friend (arm) and prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (rib) suffering injuries in the Roosters' 32-18 defeat of the Eels on Friday night.

To compound the Roosters' plight, champion halfback Cooper Cronk missed the Eels clash with a hamstring injury and is racing the clock to take on the Broncos.

Lodge was Brisbane's best forward in the season-opener against Melbourne, amassing 127 metres and 31 tackles in their 22-12 loss, only to be rubbed out for dangerous contact on Storm kicker Cameron Munster.

 

Thomas Flegler looks set for a spell from the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Thomas Flegler looks set for a spell from the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

But after watching the Dragons hammer the Broncos in midfield at Suncorp Stadium, Seibold will have no hesitation handing Lodge the No.8 jumper to combat the Roosters' go-forward.

"Lodgey will come straight back in," Seibold said.

"He deserves that.

"He has been outstanding for us in pre-season and the two games he has played. He was our best forward against the Storm and probably our best against the Titans in the trials, so he'll come straight back into the team ... he's another big body we can use."

Lodge's inclusion could see Tevita Pangai Jr return to the bench at the expense of teenage prop Tom Flegler, who may be given a spell after an unhappy night against the Dragons.

Under Seibold's game model, the NRL's reigning coach of the year wants Brisbane's forwards to win the ruck and produce quick play-the-balls to create an attacking platform for halves Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford.

Brisbane's front six lacked energy in the opening exchanges against the Dragons and Seibold challenged his forwards to muscle-up against the Roosters.

"We just dipped the toe in (against the Dragons)," he said.

"Against every team in the competition, unless you dive in all the way physically and emotionally, you will be on the back foot.

"To start both halves, the Dragons ran harder and found their body-front more aggressively."

Broncos skipper Darius Boyd said the Roosters will test Brisbane's mental toughness.

"It's a mental game more than ever these days," he said. "Our enthusiasm and attention to detail was a bit off (against the Dragons) so we need to address that this week."