Cory Paix trains with the Broncos on Tuesday at the Clive Berghofer Centre in Brisbane. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Cory Paix trains with the Broncos on Tuesday at the Clive Berghofer Centre in Brisbane. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Parker: Debutants offer Broncos hope for future

WHILE sparing a sentimental thought for the past, former skipper Corey Parker is excited by the future at the Broncos.

If not for the coronavirus-forced lockdown presenting a window of opportunity, veteran Andrew McCullough may have been running out in the Brisbane No.9 on Thursday night.

However, following his shock move last week to Newcastle, it could instead be Cory Paix filling the expected breach at dummy half against the Sydney Roosters.

Incumbent hooker Jake Turpin is sidelined with a fractured tibia, paving the way for 20-year-old Paix to make his debut alongside confirmed first-game fullback Tesi Niu.

Fox League analyst Parker, who still occupies an assistant coaching role at the Broncos, albeit in a restricted capacity, says whether it "comes this week or next week", Toowoomba product Paix will be ready.

"I had a bit to do with Paixy two years ago in the Queensland 18s," Parker recalled.

"He was a halfback coming through as a young kid, but in that Queensland 18s game we put him into the hooking role.

"He's got a really good turn of speed ... he's pretty electric out of dummy half. He's got that halfback nouse about him.

"When he first came into the system at Brisbane, the coach identified that he would probably be better in the hooking role.

Cory Paix is tackled by Thomas Flegler (right) at training back in February. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Cory Paix is tackled by Thomas Flegler (right) at training back in February. Picture: Darren England/AAP

The Toowoomba product is another in the Cooper Cronk half-back mould, but could also be ­likened to current Kangaroos No.9 Damien Cook.

"For a young kid, his attention to detail - his professionalism to get himself prepared, physically and understanding the game - has been superb," Parker said.

"It's not always the case with young guys, (but) he's certainly a pro when it comes to that.

"He's a terrific kid."

Parker admitted, however, he had mixed emotions about seeing former teammate McCullough head south to the Knights.

"I played a lot of footy with Macca," he said.

"There was an opportunity for Andrew to go down there and potentially be a walk-up start as hooker following the loss of (Jayden) Brailey.

"At that point in time he was behind Jake (Turpin) in the starting 13 (at the Broncos).

"He's a lovely guy. He's one of those guys everyone loves.

"In 260 games ... what he's done for the club has been sensational.

"He came to the club as a 13-year-old and then to walk out without even really saying goodbye, or having a send-off ... it's hard, but he's got to do what's best for him."

Niu, meanwhile, will come off the bench on Thursday night, after last year making an impact while representing Tonga against Great ­Britain.

He also had a stint in the 9s for Brisbane alongside Parker, who momentarily stepped out of retirement for the tournament.

"I've got a bit of a soft spot for Tes," Parker said of the 18-year-old with the blinding speed and fancy footwork.

"He's a super talent. He's been doing his bit ... biding his time. His opportunity has come this week... I'm really excited for him.

Paix has got all the moves. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Paix has got all the moves. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

"He came on to the scene in the Tongan game against England last year. He had really strong game on the international stage."

There will be an empty feeling for any player debuting in the NRL right now with fans not permitted to attend games.

"Those moments you dream of as a kid .... It'll be a strange one," Parker said.

"You'd rather a crowd, but what better place to play than Suncorp against the two-time reigning premiers?"

While the Broncos came crashing back to earth with a 34-6 loss to the Eels, the Roosters began the season restart with a commanding 28-12 win over the Rabbitohs, perhaps silencing early doubters.

"I think last week's performance quietened a few people up," Parker said, wary of Trent Robinson's men.

The injury-hit Broncos are $3.50 rank outsiders against the Roosters, who have been installed $1.30 favourites.

"Our depth is tested," Parker said.

"No Alex Glenn, no Tevita (Pangai Jr), no (Andrew) Fifita, no Katoni (Staggs), no Jack Bird. That's five top-line players you'd love to have in your side."


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