NRL 2022: Broncos forward Patrick Carrigan reveals injury return and how engine room is shaping up

Brisbane workhorse Patrick Carrigan has backed the Broncos forward pack to be a formidable force, but has still issued a warning to his engine room teammates ahead of Round 1.

Broncos workhorse Patrick Carrigan has declared it is time for the club’s young forwards to live up to the hype and transform potential into performance.

Brisbane will kick off the season with a full-strength engine room, with Carrigan “good to go” for Round 1 after recovering from ACL injury he suffered in Round 9 last year.

The 24-year-old had an early look at the Suncorp Stadium turf on Monday morning to announce Round 1 tickets to Brisbane’s season opener against South Sydney on March 11 will go on sale on Tuesday.

While 117kg monster Payne Haas has already established himself as one of the best props in the competition, it shapes as a defining season for the likes of highly-touted Carrigan, toughnut Tom Flegler, boom backrower Jordan Riki and young gun TC Robati.

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Patrick Carrigan says he wants the Brisbane Broncos pack to make a statement this season.
Patrick Carrigan says he wants the Brisbane Broncos pack to make a statement this season.

Carrigan — who captained the club in 12 games last year — said it was time they lived up to their potential and backed up the talk with on-field results.

“(Our forward pack) can be really good,” Carrigan said.

“We’ve probably had our tyres pumped up by different people in terms of potential.

“It’s all good having potential but if you don’t turn it into performances, then you don’t want to be that person.

“We’ve added a few guys, a bit of experience.

“Riki is a year older, I’m a year older, Payne’s a year older so … it’s about the team growing and trying to perform on a Friday, Saturday night rather than just getting talked about.”

The addition of premiership-winner Kurt Capewell, respected veteran Ryan James and former Cowboy Corey Jensen will add balance to the Broncos pack, with a lack of experienced leadership obvious at times last season.

Broncos prop Payne Haas said the next two trial matches would be a crucial audition as competition for spots heated up ahead of Round 1 against the Rabbitohs.

“It’s been good for Kevvie to have that little headache with all the forwards,’’ Haas said.

“We’ve got Ryan James in this year and he’s been training well and played well in the All Stars.

“We’ve got TC Robati pushing for a spot in the second row so everyone is on their toes.

“These next two trials will find out (who’s playing in Round 1).”

Pat Carrigan, with Payne Haas, has called on the club’s young forwards to transform potential into performance.
Pat Carrigan, with Payne Haas, has called on the club’s young forwards to transform potential into performance.

Carrigan will play his first game back from injury in this weekend’s trial match against the Titans as he eyes a Round 1 return next month.

“I’m good to go,” Carrigan said.

“Probably a little 20-minute stint this weekend, just get the feel of it again, and then a bit more against the Cowboys and then Round 1 ready to go.

“I’ve been lucky and really sweet all pre-season.

“(Former Brisbane captain) Darius Boyd got me for a chat because he had a pretty horrific Achilles injury. He just said set yourself little goals and you want to come back bigger and better and see what you can do.

“I’ve taken that approach hopefully all the way to Saturday night and getting back out there.”

Telling Walters hint in Broncos’ selection bombshell

Broncos coach Kevin Walters has declared he is not afraid to drop his first selection bombshell by considering teenage sensation Ezra Mam for Brisbane’s season-opener against South Sydney.

And Walters has received the backing of marquee halfback recruit Adam Reynolds, whose off-season move to the Broncos has taught him the classy Mam is among the cream of Brisbane’s emerging crop.

The 19-year-old Mam has rocketed into the frame to partner Reynolds in the halves for round one after a scintillating display in Brisbane’s 52-4 trial drubbing of Wynnum Manly on Saturday night.

The five-eighth spot is Brisbane’s most hotly-contested area with five players - Tyson Gamble, Billy Walters, Albert Kelly, Te Maire Martin and Mam - all vying for the famous Broncos No.6 jumper.

Mam was a complete unknown in NRL circles just 12 months ago, but the Indigenous playmaker from Ipswich insists he is ready for the NRL and Walters says he would have no issue pitchforking the rookie into the big league.

“Ezra is very confident,” Walters said.

“In my eyes, if you are good enough you are old enough and from what I saw of him last year in the Intrust Super Cup, he has had another 12 months of development.

“He just had a pre-season with us so I’d be confident if he was the guy we went with at five-eighth for round one.”

Ezra Mam continues to impress at Red Hill. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Ezra Mam continues to impress at Red Hill. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Mam burst onto the Queensland scene last season, scoring 13 tries from just 11 games for Brisbane’s feeder club Souths Logan, including a hat-trick on debut on his way to the Intrust Super Cup’s rookie-of-the-year award.

Mam continued his meteoric surge on Saturday night, scoring a try and having a hand in three others as he sliced-and-diced the Seagulls in his senior Broncos debut.

“Ezra is a very good player - he is a real talent,” Walters said.

“He cramped up a bit towards the end of the (Wynnum) game, but we saw enough class from him by then. He always seems to be in and around the ball and good things are happening around him which is impressive.”

Reynolds has taken on a mentoring role with Mam and the new Broncos skipper has been blown away by the playmaker’s natural talent.

“Ezra is one guy who has caught my eye in pre-season,” Reynolds said. “He has great awareness ... Ezra has the world at his feet.”

The battle for the five-eighth spot will intensify this week when Walters road-tests his son, Billy, in the No.6 jumper in the Broncos’ second trial against the Titans.

Viewed as a utility, Walters junior is keen to establish himself as Brisbane’s first-choice five-eighth alongside Reynolds and the Broncos coach admits he is facing a selection migraine at the scrumbase.

“Five-eighth is probably the most contentious of all our positions. Competition is great,” Walters senior said.

Te Maire Martin and Billy Walters Picture: Zak Simmonds
Te Maire Martin and Billy Walters Picture: Zak Simmonds

“I like them all. They all have different qualities. Albert’s game in the All Stars was a step up in class to the trial (against Wynnum).

“Next week I will give Billy his chance in the halves. He can play hooker but he primarily sees himself as a five-eighth and we will see what he has got next week.

“It’s good for the boys, they are competing hard to get that No.6 berth.”

Walters also lauded the performance of Dragons recruit Jordan Pereira, who is poised to win the right-wing spot for round one after his two-try showing against the Seagulls.

“He just has a ball of energy with his carries,” Walters said.

“Jordan has always been in contention for a wing spot and there will be some good discussions through the trials on who the wing spots go to.

“Jordan is very good defensively and it was good to see him bring his A-grade game.”

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Billy Walters wasn’t surprised by Pereira’s all-action display against the Seagulls.

“Jordan was outstanding (against the Seagulls) and it’s all the hard work he has done in pre-season,” he said. “I know the boys hate wrestling with him at training because he is small, round and very strong.

“He is hard to handle and he gets us on the front foot with his backfield carries. He is definitely putting his name up, it’s a headache for Kevvie but it’s what you want to have.”

Who starred in Brisbane’s big trial win

Teenage sensation Ezra Mam has turned up the heat in the battle for the Broncos’ No.6 jumper with a sizzling display in Brisbane’s 52-4 trial trouncing of Wynnum-Manly.

Before a 5000 sellout at Kougari Oval, Broncos young guns Mam and Deine Mariner excelled in their senior debuts, with the former superb at five-eighth and the latter celebrating a hat-trick in Brisbane’s 10-try belting of the Seagulls.

Mam terrorised Wynnum from the outset, scoring a try and having a hand in three others to underline why he is one of the NRL’s hottest young playmaking prospects.

Brisbane’s five-eighth spot is the most contentious for the premiership opener and Mam submitted an irresistible claim to partner Adam Reynolds in the halves for the Broncos’ round-one clash against Souths on March 11.

Experienced quartet Tyson Gamble, Albert Kelly, Te Maire Martin and Billy Walters are eyeing off the No.6 jumper, but the 19-year-old Mam says he wouldn’t let coach Kevin Walters down if handed his NRL debut.

The Broncos piled on 10 tries against Wynnum-Manly in a solid first outing for the season. Picture: Jim O'Reilly
The Broncos piled on 10 tries against Wynnum-Manly in a solid first outing for the season. Picture: Jim O'Reilly

“That’s a decision for Kevvie, but I’m happy to do whatever he wants,” Mam said.

“I put the team first, so if he picks me, then that’s great and I would put my best foot forward.”

Picking Mam for round one would be a major gamble but there can be no questioning the rookie’s confidence. Mam looks the goods. He has soft hands, a kicking game, composure in the nerve centre and the fast feet to create space for his outside men.

The Indigenous ace was involved in tries to Mariner (20th minute) and winger Jordan Pereira (33rd) to catapult the Broncos to a 26-0 halftime lead.

The quick-stepping pivot continued his rampage after the break, throwing a long ball for Pereira (42nd) and scoring himself from a kick eight minutes later before leaving the field on the hour with a calf cramp.

“I was very nervous being my first time in Broncos colours,” Mam said.

“I started to feel comfortable. I came out to play some footy and I’m keen to get more games under my belt.”

Jordan Pereira was outstanding on the wing for the Broncos. Picture: Jim O'Reilly
Jordan Pereira was outstanding on the wing for the Broncos. Picture: Jim O'Reilly

Mam wasn’t the only Broncos newcomer to shine, with 18-year-old Mariner demonstrating why he is rated one of the club’s finest centre prospects with a treble in a dream debut.

On the wing, Pereira was outstanding. The former Dragon runs with vigour and looks set to win the right-wing spot for round one, while Walters, operating at dummy-half, was busy in attack and defence.

In the middle, prop Tom Flegler was strong, hooker Cory Paix had some nice touches and opened the scoring in the 15th minute, while lock Kobe Hetherington was tireless.

“I was very happy with our defence more than anything,” coach Walters said.

“Ezra is a very good young player. The five-eighth position is probably the most contentious of all the positions, so it’s a good headache to have.”

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED ...

1. The Broncos have unearthed a playmaking star in Ezra Mam. The 19-year-old was outstanding in his senior Broncos debut at five-eighth and looks to have a composed head on young shoulders. Mam has a nice fusion of speed, skill and sublime hands and would not look out of place in the NRL this season.

Ezra Mam showed great composure in his senior debut for the Broncos. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Ezra Mam showed great composure in his senior debut for the Broncos. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

2. Jordan Pereira has rocketed into contention for a premiership wing spot. The Dragons recruit has been one of the standouts of Brisbane’s pre-season and thoroughly deserved his two-try haul against the Seagulls. Pereira is a ball of energy and coach Kevin Walters loves his all-action attitude.

3. Tom Flegler looks primed for a big NRL season. The raw-boned prop lost his way for 18 months but his shock selection in the Queensland Origin side last year was the jolt of confidence he needed. Flegler dominated the Seagulls midfield and looked a class above.

Tom Flegler looks primed for a big season after a dominant performance against Wynnum-Manly. Picture: Liam Kidston
Tom Flegler looks primed for a big season after a dominant performance against Wynnum-Manly. Picture: Liam Kidston

4. Rookie centre Deine Mariner is an NRL superstar in the making. Still just 18, Mariner enjoyed a dream debut with a hat-trick. He won’t start the season in the top squad but he has all the tools to be a first grader with his muscular build, footwork and awareness.

5. The Broncos have impressive depth this season and that will make them a genuine top-eight contenders. Brisbane have almost every position well covered and that was evidenced by Cory Paix and Billy Walters, who shared the hooking role and produced some outstanding plays. Competition for spots at Red Hill will be fierce this season.

Originally published as NRL 2022: Broncos forward Patrick Carrigan reveals injury return and how engine room is shaping up

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