RUGBY LEAGUE: Bustling backrower Joe Boyce is in line for NRL game time and he can make a genuine impact, according to his state league coach.
The 23-year-old is expected to be called into the Brisbane 17-man squad at stages during the next two months, to replace State of Origin-bound forwards.
And he is primed for it, after impressing for feeder club Souths Logan in the Queensland premiership this season.
"If he gets a call-up I'm pretty confident he'll be able to do a really good job for them and he'll be ready for it," Magpies coach Jon Buchanan said.
"He's a competitor. He's tough, he's aggressive and he works really hard in all aspects of the game."
Boyce has been on the Broncos' books since 2015 and made his NRL debut during Origin that year.
Injury soured his 2016 season but now, he's back in form and ready to do a job if called upon.
"He started the year a bit slow because he hadn't had much a pre-season after surgery but he's got better and better each week and on Sunday he was our best by far," Buchanan said.
"He likes to get his carries and defensively - he's not a massive forward - but he hits hard. The opposition knows he's in the defensive line.
"He brings a lot of energy to a side...and he's been pretty consistent, particularly over the last month."
Buchanan believed the 186cm, 98kg lock was a better player now than when he made his breakthrough.
"I think he's a lot more mature as a footballer. I think in the past...he was probably chasing the game a little bit and just chewing up a fair bit of gas whereas now he's a little bit smarter.
"And he has to be to go to that next level. He can't chase the game and be gone after 15 minutes.
"You've got to have that aggression and that effort but you've got to rely on your teammates to do their jobs as well and I think he's getting better at that."
The son of well-known Coast lawyer Peter Boyce, he played rugby union as a youngster at Nudgee College.
But he turned to league and immediately impressed as a 17-year-old at the Caloundra Sharks.
Despite his age and then-lean frame, he showed resilience and willingness against seasoned players in A-grade.
"That's probably the biggest part of his game, how mentally tough he is," Buchanan said.
It ultimately led to a deal at Newcastle before Wayne Bennett pounced for the Broncos.
Buchanan said he "would be surprised" if Boyce didn't get game time with the side during the Origin series.
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