One Burgess out, another one in – the Broncos don’t see their big NRL task against Souths getting any easier at ANZ Stadium.
Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin rates South Sydney the NRL’s best team, by a country mile, and the loss of George Burgess changes nothing on Thursday night.
Burgess’s two-week suspension has only seen the England prop replaced by identical twin Tom in the front-row and oldest brother, Luke, come on the bench for the ANZ Stadium clash.
Even without the five-Test forward, Griffin is under no illusions his 10th-placed team has the biggest assignment of round 23.
“They’ve got plenty of those (Burgess boys),” he said. “They are all the same. I don’t know which one is which.
“The new bloke coming in he looks exactly the same, plays exactly the same.
“They have a lot of depth in their forwards and to bring blokes like (Chris) McQueen off the bench is just an example of that.”
It was this time last year that all four Burgess brothers teamed up for the first time as Rabbitohs celebrated a 32-18 victory over the Wests Tigers.
With superstar Sam Burgess firing at the end of his NRL stint before his code hop to rugby, second-placed Souths, coming off a dominant 23-4 victory over Manly, are in drought-breaking premiership form, even if Wayne Bennett rates them predictable.
“They’re the best team in the comp, they’ve shown that over the last couple of weeks, by a mile,” Griffin said. “The way they put Manly away last week shows what they are capable of.
“They’re just a really disciplined, big, aggressive side Souths and that’s who they are. It’s not a matter of trying to work them out, it’s a matter of trying to beat them at their strengths.”
While the onus is on Brisbane’s middle men to produce their best to quell the bruising Rabbitohs’ pack, the visitors are set to be bolstered out wide by the return of Justin Hodges.
Hodges, who missed the 41-10 thrashing of Canterbury, trained strongly on Wednesday morning without any signs of trouble to his hamstring.
The veteran centre’s return would likely see Jack Reed move to the bench and Lachlan Maranta stay on the right wing.
Souths coach Michael Maguire has no doubt Hodges will play but will wait another week before recalling his own injured skipper, John Sutton.
Winger Lote Tuqiri said while the Broncos weren’t stacked with internationals, like his days at Red Hill, they remained a dangerous prospect and predicted a no-holds-barred contest.
“Obviously they don’t have that there now but they played well last week, they touched up the Dogs,” the veteran Souths flyer said.
“Brisbane are surviving and they’re trying to stay in that eight.”