James Roberts has been ruled out. (AAP image, John Gass)
James Roberts has been ruled out. (AAP image, John Gass)

Roberts in running for Queensland derby

THE Broncos will decide later this week if James Roberts has recovered quickly enough from back spasms to play in Friday night's home derby against the Cowboys.

Roberts lasted only five minutes of Brisbane's 22-12 loss to Melbourne last Thursday with a back injury, but ran by himself at training on Monday morning.

If Roberts cannot play, Kotoni Staggs, his replacement at AAMI Park, will start at right centre and the bench back would likely be Gehamat Shibasaki.

"It didn't look great with his back spasms, but he's had an MRI and it's not shown up any new injuries,'' Broncos head of performance Paul Devlin said.

"We will hope he is available this weekend, if not next weekend.

"Anything to do with lower backs if you get some inflammation it can be very debilitating. It's become better quickly with treatment and we will see if we can make him available this weekend.''

Shibasaki, a Queensland under-20s representative in 2016 and 2017, has played one first grade game, in the away match against North Queensland last night when a late win for the Cowboys ultimately cruelled his side's top four claims.

Kotoni Staggs would replace Roberts if he’s unavailable for the clash. Picture: Lachie Millard
Kotoni Staggs would replace Roberts if he’s unavailable for the clash. Picture: Lachie Millard

Former Cowboys forward Shaun Fensom is certain to be in a 17-man Broncos premiership side for the first time as a replacement for the suspended Matt Lodge and he is likely to start.

Tevita Pangai Jnr also trained as if he will start after he came off the bench against the Cowboys, with Jaydn Su'A set to come into the game later.

Fensom was a 2017 Cowboys grand final prop and the long-serving former Raider would bring experience to Brisbane's young forward rotation.

Senior Bronco Andrew McCullough said former clubmate Josh McGuire would be advised to concentrate on his own game rather than verbally bait opponents in his first derby in a Cowboys jumper.

Shaun Fensom will make his club debut with the Broncos. Pic Peter Wallis
Shaun Fensom will make his club debut with the Broncos. Pic Peter Wallis

McGuire had a long-running trade of words with Dragon Jeremy Latimore in his prominent debut for North Queensland in their win last Saturday.

"He'll be sucking them (breaths of air) in too much to be worrying about that,'' McCullough said.

"If he gets caught up in that it will take way from what they are planning to do - it will be good if he does that. He's quite a character and he's very competitive.''

The Broncos have to subdue Jason Taumalolo after his 301 run-metre starring role against the Dragons but McCullough said his side can gain their first win of 2019 by tidying up mistakes made in round 1.

"We hung pretty tough against the Storm. It was just some execution errors,'' he said.

"We have to be smarter with the footy.''

News Corp Australia


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