Broncos at 6s and 7s

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Journey Man
Bennett faces selection headache
By Wayne Heming
July 30, 2007

A KNEE problem for back-up Brisbane hooker Ian Lacey could complicate utility Michael Ennis's expected return from injury in Sunday's 20-year anniversary clash with second-placed Manly.

Lacey (lateral ligament) and utility David Stagg (ankle) joined the Broncos' overcrowded casualty ward today but there was good news with Tonie Carroll (pinched neck nerve) and centre Justin Hodges (hamstring) both expected to be available along with Ennis.

Hodges volunteered to play against the Sharks but because of the tricky nature of his injury his offer was declined.

Lacey is looking at between two and six weeks out depending on the extent of the damage while Stagg, cleared of a fracture after having scans overnight, will miss at least two weeks.

Ennis, kept out of Sunday's 30-16 win over the Sharks with a shoulder injury, would have been hoping to slot straight back into the No.7 jumper.

But with Lacey sidelined, he could now return on the bench as back-up for hooker Shaun Berrigan with Shane Perry retained at halfback.

Ennis came to Brisbane from St George-Illawarra as a goalkicking hooker only to be moved to halfback mid-season after Perry was overlooked.

He had just settled into the halfback role before hurting his shoulder against Gold Coast two weeks ago and copping another whack on it last week against Parramatta when he struggled a little trying to do too much without captain Darren Lockyer.

Perry was solid enough in his recall against the Sharks for coach Wayne Bennett to consider keeping him there.

But Bennett could also elect to persist with Ennis and use either Perry or 20-year-old Kiwi youngster John Te Reo, who has strong family ties to All Blacks star Tana Umaga, off the bench.

Skipper Petero Civoniceva said Perry had provided the direction Brisbane needed to beat the Sharks.

"He was great. That was the key for us last year, the stability he provides in the ruck,'' said Civoniceva.

"He gave us a lot of direction and led us around the park and his calls were very good.''

Bennett, who said Perry had "done the job'', took aim at media reports before yesterday's game that Ennis had been dropped.

When asked his likely halfback against Manly, Bennett bristled: "I don't really want to answer that.

"I just think some of you (media) have been ridiculous the way you put the pressure on him (Ennis) about being dropped.

"The club never intimated at any stage he'd been dropped ... you make it up in your own heads somewhere.

"It was pretty obvious to everyone around the club that he had an injury which is the reason he didn't play.

"We told you that countless times.''

Brisbane, locked in a real dogfight for a finals spot, is anticipating a 40,000-plus turnout to the Manly game which will celebrate 20 years since the Broncos' debut in 1988 at Lang Park (now Suncorp Stadium), a game they won 44-10.
I went to that first game in 1988 we got thrashed and were the defending premiers, the Broncos did have the likes of Lewis Miles & Dowling though and were really pumped for their debut.

A reversal of that scoreline would be very nice :yeah:

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