It’s been less than two years since Brisbane was a pleasant winner in this match, but it seems like some time ago after a season in which Penrith escaped with a minor premiere and the Broncos ended up with a wooden spoon.
The Panthers are still hot in 2021, shaking off disappointment with a big final defeat by sharing blows to the Cowboys (24-0), Bulldogs (28-0) and Sea Eagles (46-6), while at the same time tightly squeezed to defeat incumbent Melbourne Prime Minister and escape late for a healthy win over the Raiders.
Meanwhile, Brisbane have had just one win in their name so far, ruling out the Bulldogs 24-0 in their previous clash at Suncorp Stadium.
That history means that only the bravest tipsters or most one-eyed Broncos fans will support the hosts to come out on top here … but weirder things have happened as well.
Broncos: Center Jesse Arthars missed the captain’s run on Wednesday with illness and is not on the sidelines with Penrith. David Mead is moving into the malls, and Corey Oates is getting a recall on the left wing for his first game in 2021.
Prop Tom Flegler also missed training on Wednesday due to illness but is expected to play.
Fifth Anthony Milford dropped out of the place taken by Brodie Croft. Back-rower Ben Te’o is due to undergo surgery this week and will be out for at least 12 weeks after suffering a biceps injury against Rabbitoh. Ethan Bullemor took his place on the bench.
Patrick Carrigan will return from the suspension locked, pushing Tevita Pangai jnr into the second row and Jordan Riki onto the bench.
Keenan Palasia was left out of the lineup 24 hours before the start.
The Broncos have won four against the Panthers in their last five games.
Panthers: Pure health was the icing on the cake after last Friday with 30-10 defeated rivals for the title of Canberra and Ivan Cleary had the luxury of naming the same 17.
The only Penrith players currently on the sidelines are quarterback Dylan Edwards (arm, round 8) and whore Api Koroisau (wrist, round 8-10).
Robert Jennings and J’maine Hopgood were the first two players to be knocked out of the team on Thursday.
In 2021, the Panthers averaged 28 points per game.
Brodie Croft – Jarome Luai: With Anthony Milford paying the price of Brisbane’s gloomy start, Croft falls to the spot of one of the hottest NRL playmakers. Luai flies high, last season he led the league in attempts to pass and this year he produced seven in the first five rounds. Five-eight assists and attempts reversed Canberra’s game in Penrith’s favor last Friday night.
Croft has struggled to find a place in Brisbane’s lineup since moving north from Melbourne. Creating a productive partnership with Tom Dearden’s young half would help reverse his and Brisbane’s happiness.
The biggest statistical gap between these sides after five rounds is in defense. Brisbane is receiving 25.4 points per game and 31.75 points in its four defeats so far. Meanwhile, Penrith has conceded just 26 points all season. It will not be easy for the Broncos to get points here.
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