Broncos rookie lives a lifelong dream that nobody will see
Young Broncos forward Ethan Bullemor will have a memorable NRL debut in more ways than one this weekend after being named on the bench for Brisbane's clash with South Sydney on Friday night.
The 20-year-old from Springsure in central Queensland has always dreamt of pulling on a Broncos jersey and running on to Suncorp Stadium - and on Friday night that dream will come true.
The only problem is he won't have his family or friends there to watch him.
It will be Brisbane's first game under the NRL's no-fan policy as Suncorp Stadium shuts its doors amid the coronavirus scare.
Bullemor has been pitchforked into the Brisbane squad following the club's forward stock depletion.
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Club captain Alex Glenn hasn't recovered in time from a hamstring injury, while Matt Lodge remains sidelined with a partial ACL tear in his knee.
Joe Ofahengaue and Tevita Pangai Jr are also out of Friday's clash through suspension, leaving coach Anthony Seibold with limited options in the engine room.
Bullemor has been named on the bench while Jamil Hopoate, who made his NRL debut last week against the Cowboys, has been named to start in the backrow.
Bullemor has been a barnstorming prop forward for Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup for the past two seasons - and continued that form last week, running for 104 metres and busting through three tackles.
Seibold said he has been impressed with Bullemor at training and was prepared to give him a shot in the NRL this weekend.
"He's had a really good last year and a bit with the squad and he's ready to play," Seibold said.
The blockbuster clash will pit the Broncos pack against the club's former head coach Wayne Bennett, as well as former players James Roberts and Jaydn Su'A.
Seibold admitted the club could improve on last week's 28-21 win over the Cowboys.
"The motivation that we take into the game is to try and improve on last week," Seibold said.
"There was certainly a lot of areas we were happy with but there's some areas that we need to be better with, more consistent with over a longer period of time.
"We know Souths are a strong team.
"We'll do our homework this week and be very diligent."
Boom prop forward Payne Haas said despite playing in front of no fans, he was still preparing for a tough clash with the Rabbitohs.
"It is going to be a pretty big build-up again apart from what is going on off the field, and even though we know there will be no fans there," he said.
"It will still be a big build-up and they will turn up to play and we will have to turn up too."
ORIGIN ENFORCER RETURNS FOR COWBOYS
Maroons enforcer Josh McGuire will play his first game of 2020 when the Cowboys take on the Bulldogs this week.
The 30-year-old missed the season-opener due to suspension but will get his first shot of 2020 in front of an empty ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.
His inclusion into the side has pushed utility star John Asiata to the bench, forcing Corey Jensen out of the side.
Star centre Justin O'Neill is also set to line up for the Cowboys again despite leaving last week's game early with a head knock.
The Cowboys are hoping to improve on last week's game, after the Broncos spoiled the opening of their brand new home stadium with a 28 to 21 win.
Several players were criticised for playing below their best, however coach Paul Green has stayed loyal with his playing group, making just the one change in bringing in McGuire.
Green said Thursday couldn't come soon enough for the club.
"They deserve the chance to bounce back, but there are some guys where it wasn't their best performance," Green said.
"When you feel a bit disappointed about your performance, the quicker you can get out there and try to fix or do things a little bit better, the better off you're going to feel.
"For us, Thursday can't come quick enough."
It comes as the club begins preparations for the first NRL game to be played behind closed doors as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
Extra precautions are being put in place by the North Queensland club, including flying back to Townsville just hours after full-time.
Originally published as Broncos rookie Ethan Bullemor in line for a memorable NRL debut against South Sydney