Gillmeister endorses Broncos hitman Piakura for Maroons

Joel Gould |

Brisbane powerhouse Brendan Piakura has been backed to contend for a Queensland jersey.
Brisbane powerhouse Brendan Piakura has been backed to contend for a Queensland jersey.

Queensland great Trevor Gillmeister insists brutal Brisbane hitman Brendan Piakura is ready for State of Origin football due to the physicality and class he displays in all areas.

Piakura, a former Queensland under-16 and under-18 representative, returned from a month’s absence with an ankle injury to torment Wests Tigers in attack and defence in the 34-10 away win on Saturday night.

The 21-year-old second-rower, playing his 19th NRL game, crunched Tigers fullback Jahream Bula with a classic old-fashioned hit that Gillmeister salivated over. He also ran a beautiful line with vim and vigour to burst through and set up a second half try for Jock Madden.

“We have got a few injuries with Queensland at the moment and Brendan Piakura wouldn’t look out of place in a Maroons jersey. He would handle Origin no worries at all,” Gillmeister told AAP.

“You have got to put your body in front of him to stop him when he has got the ball, and get a bit of whack in you to bring him down to the ground.

“On the flip side, he has got real whack in him in defence as well, which is great if you want to play Origin.”

Brendan Piakura.
Piakura has been a powerhouse in attack as well as defence for Brisbane this season. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

The Maroons open their 2024 Origin campaign in Sydney on June 5 with Piakura needing to keep the heat on incumbents Jeremiah Nanai (North Queensland) and David Fifita (Gold Coast).

Gillmeister was one of the best tacklers rugby league has seen and earned the nickname The Axe for his approach and effectiveness for Australia, Queensland and in his 233-game first-grade career.

The 1992 and 1993 premiership winner with the Broncos is adamant his old-school technique of bending the back and tackling attackers under the ball is as relevant today as when he cut opponents in half.

“Where a lot of players get themselves in trouble is when they try and do a ball-and-all tackle. The attacker then steps and cleans them up with an arm or the bloke tackling gets themself in strife,” he said.

“The thing I like about Brendan is that he can mix his tackles up. He can bend his back and hit, or do a ball-and-all tackle if he needs to. He has that variety and that means the opposition doesn’t know what he is doing.”

The Broncos Old Boys have their own group picks for man of the match after each game.

“Brendan was my pick as best player against the Tigers,” Gillmeister said.

“He is physically dominating a lot more. As he has got bigger and stronger that gives him a lot of confidence.

“It is a physical game but too many blokes nowadays go in and try and catch you with their arms and try and slow the play-the-ball down.

“When you play Penrith, they try and hurt you when they tackle you … and that is what Piakura does for the Broncos.”