Broncos’ Piakura out of Cowboys clash, Oates recalled

Joel Gould |

Brendan Piakura has limped out of training with the injury-hit Broncos.
Brendan Piakura has limped out of training with the injury-hit Broncos.

Brisbane have suffered another injury blow, with second-rower Brendan Piakura ruled out of the clash with North Queensland with an ankle injury and set to miss up to four weeks.

Veteran winger Corey Oates has been recalled on the bench, while former St George Illawarra forward Jaiyden Hunt will make his club debut for the Broncos in the NRL. He will replace Piakura in the starting line-up in Friday night’s showdown at Suncorp Stadium.

Prop Martin Taupau has been axed from the 17, with the versatile Oates providing cover on the bench as an outside back and a forward.

The 29-year-old played second row as a youngster, can cover multiple roles and has trained in a variety of positions on the field this week.

Hunt moved into the back row at Tuesday’s training session after Piakura left the field.

“Brendan has had a scan which showed a sprained ankle,” Broncos head of performance Dave Ballard said.

“We will wait until the swelling settles, but at this stage we are looking at up to four weeks of rehab before he returns.”

The Broncos are already without prop Payne Haas (knee) and fullback Reece Walsh (facial fracture) for the Cowboys clash.

Skipper Adam Reynolds got through a second training session for the week and has been named at halfback after missing Thursday’s round-three loss to Penrith with a medial collateral ligament strain.

Oates trained with the forwards and backs on Tuesday and has been backed by prop Fletcher Baker to fire on the bench in the utility role.

“Oatsey is a legend of the club, and while back row is not his position it was at the start,” Baker said before the team was named.

“It would be pretty cool personally to play with him too. You grow up watching people like that, and if he can come in that’s big.

“You just have to look at how he played in Origin (for Queensland) back in the day. He’s still got that football  too. If he can handle Origin he can handle anything really.”

Hunt has earned his start on the back of a strong pre-season and form in the Queensland Cup.

“He’s a workhorse. He played good football at the Dragons and he’s a good footballer,” Baker said.

“Last week in Cup he played some time in the middle too, so he is (versatile).”

Coach Kevin Walters said after he lost Walsh early to injury in the 34-12 loss to Penrith that he was leaning towards having an outside back on the bench. He has followed through with the selection of Oates.

Injuries are playing havoc with Walters’ plans as the Broncos – who have won just once in three games to start the season – battle to get their season on track.