Andrew McCullough of the Broncos is assisted from the field by trainers after sustaining an injury against the Eels.
Andrew McCullough of the Broncos is assisted from the field by trainers after sustaining an injury against the Eels. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Broncos forced into reshuffle by McCullough injury

GOLD Coast skipper Ryan James knows first-hand how much of a disruption losing your star No.9 can be.

It's a situation that has befallen the Titans' round-22 opponents Brisbane after some Adam Blair friendly fire resulted in a season-ending knee injury for hooker Andrew McCullough.

The Broncos have scrambled to replace their 214-gamer, moving State of Origin representative Ben Hunt from halfback to hooker and recalling Kodi Nikorima to the starting side for the derby showdown on Saturday night.

Hunt will go head-to-head with Gold Coast ace Nathan Peats, whose impact is perhaps best measured by the extent to which the Titans have missed him when he has been absent.

Since joining the club midway through last year, the Titans have won 13 of 25 matches (52%) with Peats in the side.

 

Nathan Peats of the Titans offloads a pass as he is tackled by Reagen Campbell-Gillard of the Panthers.
Nathan Peats of the Titans offloads a pass as he is tackled by Reagen Campbell-Gillard of the Panthers. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Without him, through either injury or Origin duties, their record plummets to 11%, with only one victory from nine starts.

Peats' expertise around the ruck has also made a noticeable difference on his captain's ability to find the try line.

James has failed to register a single try in those nine games Peats has missed; in the 25 they have lined up together, James has bagged 12 tries, including two doubles.

The front-rower joked it was a correlation his teammate had quickly pointed out.

 

Titans forward Ryan James playing against the Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium in June.
Titans forward Ryan James playing against the Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium in June. DAVE HUNT

"I'm just not getting over as much (this year) and Peatsy was injured and he said it was him," James said.

"Then when he came back he gave me three try assists. He reckons it's all him."

Queensland coach Kevin Walters labelled McCullough's injury a "big blow" for the Broncos but he believes the situation could have been worse.

"If this happened in the finals, you would have to say their season would probably be over but I think that they have got enough time up their sleeve the next few weeks to find a capable replacement," he said.

News Corp Australia


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