Plan to shut Fi­fita down

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - PETER BADEL

THE Bron­cos are pre­par­ing An­thony Mil­ford and Kodi Niko­rima for a bruis­ing show­down with An­drew Fi­fita by or­der­ing the pint- sized halves to tackle the Sharks gi­ant’s best mate – con­tro­ver­sial en­forcer Matt Lodge.

Fi­fita is primed to ter­rorise the Bron­cos this Fri­day night when he re­turns to Sun­corp Sta­dium, the scene of his ram­pag­ing Ori­gin I dis­play that saw him la­belled NSW’s ver­sion of Arthur Beet­son.

But Bron­cos coach Wayne Ben­nett has a tac­ti­cal ace up his sleeve in Lodge, who was yes­ter­day de­ployed as a Fi­fi­ta­clone at train­ing as he charged at pocket- rocket duo Mil­ford and Niko­rima.

If any­one can match Fi­fita as a phys­i­cal spec­i­men, it is Lodge, who plays for Bris­bane’s feeder- club Red­cliffe in the In­trust Su­per Cup.

At 193cm and 114kg, the hulk­ing Lodge is 1cm shorter and 2kg lighter than Fi­fita.

The duo re­main close friends, with Fi­fita hav­ing stayed at Lodge’s Bris­bane home the night be­fore his man- of- the- match ance in Ori­gin I.

Niko­rima and Mil­ford have both en­dured shoul­der prob­lems in the past 12 months, but their will­ing­ness to con­front Lodge yes­ter­day gives them con­fi­dence they can hold their own against Fi­fita.

“If he runs my way, I just have to do what I’ve been prac­tis­ing,” Niko­rima said.

“The key is line- speed be­cause Fi­fita is a big boy and if he gets mo­men­tum, the big fella usu­ally wins.

“We have been ( tack­ling Lodge) for per­form- do­ing it the last cou­ple of weeks shoul­ders right.

“Milf has had a shoul­der prob­lem and I had shoul­der surgery last year. I had an­other lit­tle com­plaint ear­lier in the sea­son so Wayne ( Ben­nett) is mak­ing us do ex­tra tack­ling.”

Bron­cos skip­per Dar­ius Boyd was a mem­ber of the Queens­land side which was ripped apart by Fi­fita in Ori­gin I. to get our

The Ma­roons suc­cess­fully for­mu­lated a game plan to muz­zle Fi­fita for the re­main­ing two games and Boyd is con­fi­dent the Bron­cos pack has the mo­bil­ity and tough­ness to shut down the Sharks hard­man.

“He is hard to stop,” Boyd said of Fi­fita.

“In Ori­gin I, we weren’t at our best and he had a great game, but in Ori­gin II and III we prac­tised a few things.

“We nul­li­fied his at­tack­ing game in par­tic­u­lar.

“It’s the same again when we play Cronulla. If you want to nul­lify him, you have to get up in his face and not let him run with the ball be­cause he has some great skills.

“He can off­load and pass, so he is a real dan­ger to us.”

Bron­cos player Matt Lodge.

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