Broncos young gun injured, rookie stakes claim
Update: Tevita Pangai Jr felt his hamstring "pop" as the Broncos suffered another engine room blow in Saturday night's 26-12 trial win against Wynnum-Manly.
Pangai Jr was forced from Kougari Oval after only 18 minutes after suffering a recurrence to the chronic hamstring problem which has plagued his 54-game NRL career.
Pangai Jr's injury overshadowed a barnstorming performance by teenage prop Thomas Flegler, who threw his hand up to replaced suspended rising star Payne Haas.
With Haas to miss the first four games of the NRL season, an injury to explosive lock Pangai Jr was the last thing new coach Anthony Seibold needed ahead of his first season at the helm of the Broncos.
Pangai Jr will undergo scans on Sunday, but the Tongan powerhouse admitted he faced a fight to be ready for the opening to the NRL season.
"I felt it pop," Pangai Jr said.
"I'm pretty disappointed. I worked hard on my hamstrings all pre-season.
"I don't know what to say. I'll be all right, it's early days and we've got a long season ahead.
"Hopefully I'm good for round one. Hopefully I can get back on the horse, get my preparation right and be right for round one against the Storm.
"We've got a lot of depth and the young boys played well. If I'm out for round one I'm pretty sure we can cover it."
Flegler ran all over the Seagulls to bolt into favouritism to secure an NRL debut in the Broncos' season opener against Melbourne on March 14.
The 19-year-old has been likened to Broncos legend Shane Webcke and his steaming carries against the Seagulls proved the comparisons are warranted.
With Haas suspended this week following an NRL integrity unit investigation, Seibold is on the lookout for a new bench prop.
A four-way tussle is underway including rookies Flegler and Pat Carrigan, veteran Shaun Fensom and Patrick Mago.
Fensom was reliable in his Broncos debut, Mago did little wrong and Carrigan was impressive from the bench, but it was Flegler that caught the eye.
At 190cm and 108kg, Flegler is an imposing specimen and showed a full arsenal of weapons with line-busting carries, offloads and crunching defence.
He scored Brisbane's first try in the fourth minute with a determined carry close to the line and returned in the second half with another solid stint.
While Flegler's performance gave Seibold food for thought, the new Broncos coach would have been relieved to see Jack Bird emerge from the trial unscathed.
It was the former NSW Origin star's first game in 288 days after his debut season at Red Hill was crippled by shoulder and sternum injuries.
Bird, 23, only managed eight underwhelming appearances for the Broncos last season before succumbing to a painful chest injury which required surgery.
On a contract worth about $800,000 this season, a flying Bird is crucial to Brisbane's NRL premiership campaign because he is being paid too much to not be an influential player.
Bird played the opening 30 minutes of the trial and warmed into the contest after a quiet start.
While his attacking opportunities were limited, Bird was aggressive in defence, something he was unable to do last year due to his injury struggles.
The Intrust Super Cup's Seagulls seemed stunned initially but lifted to give the Broncos a quality hit-out ahead of their final trial against the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday.
Roosters recruit Sean O'Sullivan produced a polished left-foot kicking game in his first match in Broncos colours at five-eighth and combined well with teenage halfback Tom Dearden.
The Broncos' reserve playmakers Tanah Boyd and Cory Paix were also impressive from the bench.
Broncos forward Jaydn Su'A had a short hit-out in his return from a broken ankle while Richie Kennar, Kotoni Staggs, David Fifita and Paix scored for Brisbane.