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Hoffman gets final No.1 Broncos crack

Concerns over Ben Barba's foot injury have ensured disgruntled Kiwi international Josh Hoffman will receive a final crack at Brisbane's No.1 jersey.
Hoffman gets final No.1 Broncos crack
by AAP

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, Feb 20 AAP - Concerns over Ben Barba's foot injury have ensured disgruntled Kiwi international Josh Hoffman will receive a final crack at Brisbane's No.1 jersey.

Barba was the glaring omission when the Broncos named a strong squad for their final NRL trial against New Zealand Warriors at Dunedin on Sunday.

The former Dally M Medallist has been cleared of serious injury since hobbling home from the recent Auckland Nines but has been rested as a precaution, opening the door for Hoffman to make a last gasp fullback claim.

Hoffman will run out in his beloved No.1 jersey this weekend after impressing on the wing to help Brisbane surge toward the Auckland Nines final, which they lost to arch rivals North Queensland.

It is a timely shot in the arm for Hoffman, who had been linked to the Bulldogs since Brisbane lured Barba from Belmore to Red Hill.

Hoffman's manager Paul Hogan claims the Kiwi international has asked numerous times for a release from the final two years of his contract since Barba's signing.

Brisbane have dug in their heels, saying their strike weapon is going nowhere.

But Broncos centre Jack Reed said Hoffman provided enough evidence that he was happy at Brisbane with his stirring Nines display.

"He seems to be loving it, you saw how he was playing his football," he said of Hoffman's impressive Nines campaign.

"He was absolutely killing it over there.

"He's a talented, freakish player. I hope he stays around."

Asked if Hoffman was happy in the Broncos camp, Reed said: "I think you boys are building it up a bit too much.

"He seems happy here.

"I want him to stay and be a part of the side, he does great things for us."

Reed believed neither Hoffman or Barba would look out of place in the No.6 jersey but Kodi Nikorima appeared to have the jump on five-eighth after getting the nod for the Warriors clash.

The New Zealand-born teenager impressed by combining well with halfback Ben Hunt at the Nines. Meanwhile, former Test winger Jharal Yow-Yeh earned a bench spot as he battled his way back to an NRL return, two years after suffering a sickening ankle injury. Broncos squad: Josh Hoffman, Stewart Mills, Dale Copley, Jack Reed, Lachlan Maranta, Kodi Nikorima, Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Corey Parker, Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday. Interchange: Martin Kennedy, Ben Hannant, Todd Lowrie, Jarrod Wallace, Jake Granville, Jordan Drew, Zac Strasser, Jharal Yow Yeh.


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