Big Ben ready to strike for the Broncos: Corey Parker

Joel Gould |

Brisbane prop Ben Te Kura (centre) will make his debut as the tallest footballer ever to play NRL.
Brisbane prop Ben Te Kura (centre) will make his debut as the tallest footballer ever to play NRL.

Giant Brisbane prop Ben Te Kura has been backed to perform on his NRL debut in a baptism of fire against fierce rivals Melbourne at AAMI Park.

At 205cm, the 19-year-old will become the tallest player ever to feature in the NRL. He is five centimetres taller than Storm behemoth Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who has not been named for Thursday night’s showdown.

Te Kura has got his opportunity due to a head knock at training for Xavier Willison, who drops off the bench.

“Aside from his monstrous frame, Ben has an appetite for the collision and some good footwork,” former Brisbane captain Corey Parker told AAP on Tuesday.

“He has the ability to provide some decent offloads. That will all come for him, but at the moment he has a great opportunity to debut against a very strong club.

“I debuted against a real strong (Warriors) side and it can be good for you when you are playing in the middle.

“Not that his job would change against a lesser side, but it is a great test for him against the Storm.”

Te Kura has been honing his craft in the Queensland Cup for Souths-Logan where he has shone. He also impressed in the pre-season trials for the Broncos.

“It is a bit of a reward for him for what he has been doing in the Queensland Cup that Kevvie (coach Kevin Walters) feels he can play first grade and has no qualms putting him in against Melbourne,” Parker said.

“Big Ben will go alright. He’ll have to. Defensively, he will know who he is playing once (Storm hooker) Harry Grant comes out at him.”

Whatever transpires on Thursday night, Te Kura will never forget his debut.

Parker came off the bench against the Warriors on his debut in 2001, facing a fearsome pack that featured greats including Ali Lauiti’iti and Kevin Campion.

“They were big and physical. I remember Lauiti’iti well. He ran straight at me off a dropout,” Parker said.

The Broncos have not beaten the Storm at AAMI Park since 2016, losing their last seven games at the venue.

They did get the better of Melbourne in last year’s finals series, winning 26-0 at Suncorp Stadium – an anomaly in their overall record.

“When Cameron Smith was playing for (Melbourne) in particular their style worried Brisbane and it is something that Craig Bellamy has continued,” Parker said.

“Last year it was a bit different (in the finals) because the style Brisbane play with now is different, particularly when (currently injured) Reece Walsh and Payne Haas are in the side.

“Now Brisbane like to shift the ball and back their ability.

“Previously Cameron Smith would shift the ball to an edge with one wide pass. You had to ask the middle forwards to fill up on a short side and if they were late getting there the Storm would attack.

“If you put too many forwards on the short side, Smithy would come back to the middle.

“It was all just a game of numbers from his point of view.”