Benji’s better option: Locky
BRONCOS legend Darren Lockyer has called for Kodi Nikorima to be axed to the bench, declaring Benji Marshall as the halfback to outwit Storm maestro Cooper Cronk.
The Broncos must defy a decade of Melbourne dominance at AAMI Park on Friday night if they are to trump the Storm and qualify for their second grand final in three years.
Melbourne have held a 10year stranglehold over the Broncos, winning 19 of the past 23 clashes between the NRL heavyweights following Brisbane’s 2006 grand final boilover.
The Broncos are expected to be buoyed by the return of captain Darius Boyd ( hamstring) at fullback for the preliminary final showdown.
Boyd’s return means Bennett will likely send either Nikorima, who played fullback in last Friday’s win against the Panthers, or Marshall to the bench for the sudden- death final.
The Broncos have won 11 of the 12 matches Nikorima has started at halfback this season, however 267- game veteran Marshall is a better option in the No. 7 according to Lockyer.
“I reckon you leave Benji at halfback and put Kodi back to the bench,” the 2006 premiership- winning five- eighth said.
“They need to train all week and have Kodi as a back- up fullback bench.
“I think Benji deserves to stay there. He made his tackles and didn’t have any errors with the footy ( against Penrith).
“His kicking game was solid, a few kicks could have been better, but his experience brings composure, he isn’t overplaying his hand and that’s the key.”
Marshall, 32, is 80 minutes away from a fairytale grand final.
His career was at a crossroads last year when Bennett issued him a $ 100,000 lifeline for 2017.
The 2005 Wests Tigers grand final hero has come back to life at Red Hill and Lockyer’s endorsement has given Bennett something to consider at the selection table.
Regardless of who starts at halfback, the Broncos must produce a better attacking performance if they are to challenge the dominant Storm.
Melbourne are a clinical outfit with Test and Maroons No. 7 Cronk calling the shots and the Broncos cannot afford to give him too many opportunities with the ball.
“We’re going to need the same energy defensively but we need to be better with our attack,” hooker Ben Hunt said.
Boyd’s return will give the Broncos another attacking dimension and bring cohesion to their defensive structures. “Defensively and in attack he helps us so much,” Hunt said. for Darius on the