Josh Hoffman, pictured celebrating a try during the Auckland NRL Nines, has been named at five-eighth for the Round One clash against the Bulldogs. Photo: Simon WattsFootball has the false nine. But Brisbane have abandoned plans for a double six on the eve of their season opener against the Bulldogs.
Anthony Griffin says Josh Hoffman will play a traditional five-eighth role – not continually switch with fullback Ben Barba – when the Broncos meet Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Friday night
Speculation had been rife all pre-season about not only who would play five-eighth but how they would be employed, with Griffin suggestion the pair could interchange freely throughout the 80 minutes.
But the Brisbane coach has now decided certainty breeds confidence, saying the more robust Hoffman would attack and defend in the front line and star recruit Barba roam free at the back.
“Josh will play five-eighth and Ben will play fullback,” Griffin said matter of factly.
“I think Josh will handle it just fine, he’s a great runner of the ball and we’ve seen numerous times over the last few years, fullbacks can handle five-eighth.
“Defensively, he is not scared of the defensive workload, the big thing will be getting used to being in the frontline. But he has done a lot of work on that in our pre-season camp. I have confidence he can do the job for us.”
It’s a huge acid test for a career fullback and winger who played five-eighth as a junior but hasn’t appeared at six during his 89 games of NRL.
Barba had his fans as a potential five-eighth but Griffin didn’t seem to be seriously tempted to move the former Bulldog from his the position in which he took the game by storm two seasons ago.
Barba should have enough on his plate, in any case, given the reception he is likely to be given by fans of his former employer.
Griffin said the Bulldogs factor made no difference and the former Dally M winner would be able to zone out and provide his full focus on what the Broncos were trying to achieve.
“Tomorrow night no doubt he will get a pretty hostile reception. Once he gets through that he will be fine,” Griffin said.
“But whether we are playing the Bulldogs or not, it is not an issue.
“It probably makes for good theatre but we are trying to win a footy game.”
Barba has settled in nice at Red Hill. He featured strongly in a sharp Brisbane training session on Thursday morning and will carry much of his side’s attacking hopes in 2014.
Griffin said he appeared happy and content before the first round but the proof would be in the pudding at ANZ Stadium against an injury-depleted Bulldogs outfit.
“He was probably a bit nervous,” Griffin said. “But as the months have gone on and he got to know the guys he has become more relaxed.
“He has been good for the team just in the way he has conducted himself and his attitude. But in the end it will depend on how he plays his footy.”
Canterbury – which has not lost at home to Brisbane since 2008 – will battle without Krisnan Inu (broken jaw), Sam Kasiano (foot), Greg Eastwood (foot), Drury Low (broken hand) and Tim Lafai (broken hand).