Broncos clear Roberts, worry about NQ pack

James Roberts is set to overcome a back injury and play Friday's Broncos-Cowboys NRL derby.
James Roberts is set to overcome a back injury and play Friday's Broncos-Cowboys NRL derby.

Strike weapon James Roberts may be cleared of injury but Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold still has a major concern ahead of Friday's NRL derby - North Queensland's pack.

The Broncos backline received a boost on Thursday with NSW centre Roberts given the green light to play, overcoming a back injury sustained in their season-opening loss to Melbourne.

But Seibold admitted his forwards would need all the help they could get lining up against a Jason Taumalolo-led North Queensland.

After Matt Lodge joined fellow suspended prop Payne Haas on the sidelines, Seibold elevated powerhouse Tevita Pangai to the front-row and moved Jaydn Su'A to the bench in a bid to combat arguably the NRL's biggest pack.

"It (Cowboys forwards) is a pretty loaded pack. We understand we will have to be very good through the middle of the park otherwise it will be a tough old day for us," Seibold said.

"We have worked hard to try and improve our game this week but our middles have a big job."

Taumalolo turned heads with his epic 301m game in North Queensland's season-opening win against St George Illawarra.

However, Seibold said the Tongan wrecking ball may be the least of his forwards' problems on Friday.

"I have an enormous opinion of Jordan McLean who was a standout at the Storm for a number of years, and you saw the impact he made (for North Queensland) when he came back (from a three-month foot injury) at the end of last year," Seibold said of the Cowboys prop.

"Josh McGuire is a current Kangaroo, Jason Taumalolo was outstanding last week, Matt Scott is a proven performer and they have a couple of Queensland backrowers in Coen Hess and Gavin Cooper.

"They (North Queensland) are very big, powerful, strong."

Then there's North Queensland's Test lock McGuire and fullback Jordan Kahu lining up against their former club.

"I expect them to be at their best," Seibold said.

At least Seibold doesn't have to worry about Roberts.

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Broncos have won 10 of 15 games played against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium, including six of the past seven games.

* The Broncos have not lost their opening two games of a season since 2007.

* North Queensland's Jason Taumalolo has 2540 run metres against the Broncos, his most against any side.

Australian Associated Press