Sam Thaiday.
Sam Thaiday. Rob Williams

Broncos hoping key men return

RUGBY LEAGUE: Brisbane hopes to have inspirational forward Sam Thaiday and five-eighth Josh Hoffman available for Friday night's Queensland derby against North Queensland in Townsville.

A calf injury forced Thaiday to pull out of the Australian team that scored a hard-fought 30-18 win over New Zealand in Sydney last Friday night. Hoffman missed out on the round eight loss to the Rabbitohs, and was also unavailable for the Kiwis on Friday night with an achilles injury.

But Broncos fullback Ben Barba said he hoped both players would be available for the clash against the Cowboys who bounced back to their best to thump Parramatta 42-14 before the representative weekend.

"Hopefully they will play, they add so much to our game. Having Sammy and the boys back would be good," Barba, who broke his seven-game try drought for Brisbane against South Sydney, said.

Barba said the players were upset by the manner in which they lost to South Sydney after coming from 14 points down early to lead with 10 minutes remaining.

It was the fourth close game Brisbane has let slip from its grasp this season, Barba admitting the club's coaching staff had spoken to the players individually about areas they need to be better at to close out games.

"We (players) talked about it and the coaching staff have gone through it with individuals to try and fine-tune what we're doing wrong and why we're losing so many close games in the last five or 10 minutes," he said.

"Everyone is working hard. We all recognise the problems we have and hopefully we can put together an 80-minute performance on Friday night and go right on with the job."

Barba said Brisbane was paying a high price for failing to do the "little things" right towards the end of games.

"We have to complete our sets after we score points and get some momentum rather than be constantly defending our line after a few tackles like we have been in those last 10 minutes," he said.

"Those things have been letting us down and we know we can't do that up there in Townsville against a side like the Cowboys."

Meanwhile, damaging Cowboys forward Tariq Sims looks likely to miss the showdown after being sent for scans on an ankle he injured while playing for Country Origin against City in Dubbo on Sunday.

The match ended in a thrilling 26-all draw after City scored three tries in the final four minutes.


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