The Courier-Mail

DEFENCE HIS FIRST LINE OF ATTACK

- PAUL MALONE @pmalone_cmail

FORMER Broncos premiershi­p skipper Kevin Walters says halfback Ash Taylor has to get his defence right to make a success of his first grade debut against Melbourne tonight.

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett is certain Ben Hunt will be fit for the first week of finals, despite a cork ruling him out tonight.

Taylor, 20, signed a three-year contract with Gold Coast in July but his first grade chances were wiped out by Hunt’s rapid rise.

While Taylor will need to take on a fair share of Hunt’s kicking g game, Walters says it will be how he handles the defensive w workloadh hw

that will dictate w whether his debut is rated a success.

“He’s going to be fine w with his attack as long as h he gets his defence right and keeps it simple,” Walters said. “Slotting into the right edge is good for tth him because he has two e experience­d players either s side of him, Matt Gillett and J Justin Hodges.

“I don’t think Ash has to change too much. He has ccb b been playing good football i in the under-20s for quite a l long time. “He has a lot of upside and he’ll play a lot of first grade if he applies himself at the Titans.’’

How Taylor compares in a head-to-head showdown with the meticulous Cooper Cronk will determine whether Bennett gives him another chance in the finals.

“He’s spent all season with us but it’s his first NRL game, so we’ll all see,’’ Bennett said. “He has all the skills and we just have to see what he does with it all. What he does in the under-20s will be good enough for us (tonight).’’

Towards the end of a punishing season, Bennett yesterday dangled a carrot in front of his players by saying “the good times are about to start’’.

“They have done a good job and put themselves into a wonderful position,’’ he said. “Why wouldn’t they be happy? That’s the way you want them.’’

A win over the Storm and victory for Souths over the Roosters will mean the Broncos finish first and avoid the Cowboys in week one of the finals.

Hunt, right winger Jordan Kahu (shoulder) and secondrowe­r Alex Glenn (suspension) all have a game off. Taylor, Lachlan Maranta and bench forward David Stagg take their places.

Bennett said Brisbane’s memorable defence in holding out Melbourne 14-12 in June at AAMI Park was not a performanc­e “in isolation’’.

“It’s what we’ve been really good at all season,’’ he said. “There have been a number of games in which we’ve been good and we have to be good (tonight).’’

 ??  ?? IT’S TIME: Ashley Taylor and (inset) with coach Wayne Bennett, will face the Storm. Pictures: Annette Dew
IT’S TIME: Ashley Taylor and (inset) with coach Wayne Bennett, will face the Storm. Pictures: Annette Dew

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