Broncos lose Gillett for Bulldogs clash

Queensland star Matt Gillett has been ruled out of Thursday night's clash against the Bulldogs as the Broncos prepare to deploy Alex Glenn at centre to counter in-form Bulldogs ace Will Hopoate at Suncorp Stadium.

The Broncos will launch 'Operation Hoppa' in a bid to keep their season alive with Seibold identifying the experienced Glenn as the man to muzzle the Tongan centre torpedo who ran riot against Newcastle last week.

Former NSW Origin whiz-kid Hopoate played a key role in Canterbury's 20-14 upset of the Knights, amassing 24 runs, 199 metres, two line-breaks, five tackle busts and scoring a try in a superb centre display.

The Warriors last week terrorised Broncos teenager Xavier Coates on Brisbane's right edge and now Seibold is determined to ensure the Bulldogs do not exploit youth on their left side.

Rookie 19-year-old Englishman Herbie Farnworth was originally named in the No.4 jumper, but Glenn will be road-tested at left centre at Brisbane's captain's run at Suncorp with Seibold to finalise his decision on game day.

In a blow for the Broncos, Gillett (groin) has failed a fitness test, with a training session convincing the Brisbane coach his No.1 back-rower is not ready for a return against the Bulldogs.

"We thought Matt would be a good chance of playing but halfway through the session he said he could feel it (his groin) a bit and we needed to make sure we looked after him," Seibold said.

"We decided not to name him. It is a long turnaround until our next game (against the Titans on Saturday week) so we needed to make sure we don't hurt him any further.

Gillett is Brisbne’s best backrower. AAP Image/Darren England.
Gillett is Brisbne’s best backrower. AAP Image/Darren England.

"We had a bit of an experiment because we thought 'Gillo' would be right to play. We have named Herbie in the centres but 'Lexi' (Glenn) trained there yesterday.

"We will have a look at it today (at a Suncorp closed session) and make a final decision on our final 17."

Despite Gillett's scratching, Seibold may still opt for Glenn's experience at centre, with the Broncos coach mindful of Hopoate's outstanding form and the potential damage he could do to a rookie rival.

Should Glenn start at left centre, David Fifita would be promoted into the back row with 18th man Rhys Kennedy likely to join the interchange bench.

"We thought Herbie did a good job (against the Warriors) and he has played a bit of centre at Norths," Seibold said.

"But we don't want to put too much pressure on Herbie ... we will have a final look this morning.

Hopoate has been on fire in recent weeks. AAP Image/Darren Pateman.
Hopoate has been on fire in recent weeks. AAP Image/Darren Pateman.

"It is a big challenge - Hopoate has been outstanding.

"He has probably been from what I can see the Bulldogs' most consistent player. Hopoate has been averaging around 180 metres in recent games so he is a real handful.

"Whoever it is, Herbie or Alex, they have a big job to do."

The Broncos are languishing in 13th place three competition points adrift of eighth-placed Penrith, but Seibold downplayed talk of Brisbane missing the finals.

"I haven't given it any thought whatsoever," he said of the playoffs.

"If I did that, I'm not focused on this week's game. I've always had a narrow focus to my coaching.

"I haven't thought about any outcomes at the end of the year.

"I feel as though we are improving as a team. We are focused on tomorrow's game, it's important in the context of the year."

News Corp Australia


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