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26 Apr 2018 12:05
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  •   Home > News > Sports

    Brisbane keep Bird in halves as stars pay

    Brisbane's Kodi Nikorima is one of several NRL players relegated to a lesser role in round seven, after a cutthroat afternoon of team changes across the league.

    Brisbane will stick with star recruit Jack Bird in the halves despite coach Wayne Bennett repeatedly publicly guaranteeing Kodi Nikorima the No.7 jersey for the rest of the NRL season.

    Bird trained alongside Anthony Milford in the Broncos' scrumbase on Tuesday at Red Hill, and the pair were named together for Friday night's clash with Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium, with Nikorima on the bench.

    In the absence of Nikorima due to a thigh injury, Bird and Milford sparked the Broncos on the weekend as they inflicted the Warriors' first loss of the year.

    Bennett was one of several coaches to make crucial changes for round-seven matches, as a number of teams outside the top eight lost patience with players after the opening rounds.

    Parramatta have rushed Jarryd Hayne back from injury for Sunday's clash with Manly, for the high-profile Bevan French.

    French is struggling to overcome a shoulder injury, but he was disappointing in Saturday night's loss to Canberra where he had just one run for 15 metres.

    Beau Scott and Kaysa Prichard have also been dropped by coach Brad Arthur after their worst start to a season since 1991, while a rib injury has sidelined outside back Kirisome Auva'a.

    Kiwi prop Jared Waerea-Hargeaves has been punted to the bench for Thursday night's date with Canterbury, despite Sio Siua Taukieaho's knee injury at the Sydney Roosters after last week's carve-up through the middle at the hands of South Sydney.

    Brock Lamb is also missing from Newcastle's bench for their match against the Wests Tigers, with Bulldogs-bound Jack Cogger called up for his first game of the season.

    But the most notable of all those calls is Brisbane's move to drop Kiwi international Nikorima back to the bench, after he and Milford had failed to register a try assist in the first five rounds.

    "Birdy went really well (against the Warriors) and it's going to be a really hard decision for the coach," back-rower Alex Glenn said on Tuesday morning.

    "With two great selections there, it's great for us.

    "We had the same dilemma last year with Benji Marshall as well. It adds strike to our team having three great halves."

    Elsewhere, Josh Reynolds is out again for the Tigers with a shoulder injury, while Souths' Cameron Murray is in doubt with a hamstring issue for their match against Canberra..

    Cronulla have named Andrew Fifita and Luke Lewis (both knee injuries) for their clash with Penrith, who will welcome Dallin Watene-Zelezniak back early from a broken jaw to replace Josh Mansour (cheekbone).

    Jackson Hastings hasn't been named at Manly, just a day after reports that the Sea Eagles' playing group had told coach Trent Barrett they didn't want to play alongside him.

    Hastings missed last week's loss to the Tigers with an achilles injury, while captain Daly Cherry-Evans admitted after the match they'd had a "lover's tiff".


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