NRL: Bulldogs v Brisbane Broncos

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 12: Ben Barba runs during the Brisbane Broncos NRL pre-season training session on February 12, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)468875357.jpg Photo: Bradley Kanaris The hirsute Des Hasler with assistant coach Jim Dymock. Photo: Getty Images
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All eyes will be on Ben Barba and how he performs in his first game for the Broncos against his former club.

ANZ Stadium, Friday March 7,  8.05pm (AEDT)Last meeting: Broncos 16 bt Bulldogs 11 at Suncorp Stadium, round 26 2013Head-to-head: Broncos 23, Bulldogs 19, drawn 1Referees: Shayne Hayne, Chris JamesTV: Live, Channel 9TAB Sportsbet: Bulldogs $1.55 Broncos $2.45FootyTab: Broncos +4.5

Michael Chammas writes: All eyes will be on Ben Barba and how he performs in his first game for the Broncos against his former club. But it’s the other players missing from the Bulldogs line-up that is the biggest concern for Canterbury. No Krisnan Inu, no Sam Kasiano, no Greg Eastwood and no Tim Lafai. The Broncos have plenty of forwards and what they lack in the playmaking department they make up for with skill in the forward pack.

Tip: Broncos by 12

AAP writes: Both clubs are in something of a rebuilding process and will be very keen to impress first up. Broncos coach Anthony Griffin desperately needs early season wins to keep his job, while the Dogs won’t want to start the year in the same terrible fashion they did in 2013. Josh Hoffman has been thrust into the No.6 role for Brisbane in a big gamble by Griffin.

The Dogs are missing Sam Kasiano, Greg Eastwood, Krisnan Inu and Tim Lafai but the Broncos are bereft of genuine playmakers. Dogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds plays his first game this year after battling a shoulder injury.

Key: Ben Barba faces his old side in his first game for Brisbane in a great piece of scheduling by the NRL, can he slay the Dogs and silence their fans in the same way Sonny Bill Williams did last year?

BULLDOGS: Sam Perrett, Mitch Brown, Josh Morris, Chase Stanley, Corey Thompson, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (capt), James Graham, Frank Pritchard (capt), Tony Williams, Dale Finucane. Interchange: Josh Jackson, Pat O’Hanlon, Tim Browne, David Klemmer, Moses Mbye (one to be omitted).

BRONCOS: Ben Barba, Daniel Vidot, Jack Reed, Dale Copley, Lachlan Maranta, Josh Hoffman, Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Corey Parker (capt), Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett. Interchange: Ben Hannant, Martin Kennedy, Todd Lowrie, Jarrod Wallace, David Hala (one to be omitted).

Welcome to the first instalment of Friday night footy for the season. Canterbury v Brisbane. Broncos fullback Ben Barba up against his old club. Should be a cracker! Kick-off not too far away.

No coach in the NRL has more lustrous hair than Des Hasler! Like a well-constructed second-man play, it’s a thing of beauty.

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