Brisbane Broncos struggling heading into NRL grand final rematch with…

The faltering Brisbane Broncos have five middle and edge forwards unavailable for the grand final rematch with Penrith as three crunch games loom, but coach Kevin Walters says a top-eight finish is still within his side’s grasp.


The Broncos, in ninth position after four consecutive losses, host the Panthers on Friday night with props Ben Te Kura (foot) and Fletcher Baker (knee) unavailable, while second-rowers Jordan Riki (suspended), Jaiyden Hunt (hand) and Jack Gosiewski (arm) also will not line up.


Gosiewski broke his arm in the 32-16 loss to the Warriors on Saturday and will miss up to eight weeks while Baker suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury and will go for scans.

The Broncos will welcome back State of Origin trio Payne Haas (prop), Patrick Carrigan (lock) and Reece Walsh (fullback) for what looms as a must-win fixture as they try to get revenge for last year’s heartbreaking 26-24 loss in the grand final and a 34-12 defeat in round three this season.


Of their top-30 squad, the Broncos now have just seven middle and edge forwards to pick from this week and all of prop Corey Jensen, versatile Kobe Hetherington, second-rower Brendan Piakura, giant in-form tyro Xavier Willison, veteran Martin Taupau and their two returning Origin forwards will likely play against Penrith.


The Broncos host St George Illawarra in round 19 without Origin players and then face a road trip to Newcastle three days after the State of Origin decider.


Walters rested the Origin trio against the Warriors and copped criticism for it after another loss to a team outside the top eight.