Two of the youngest rugby league halves pairings go head-to-head when the Penrith Panthers travel north to take on a reshuffled Brisbane Broncos side at Suncorp Stadium to kick off round 6.
While the Panthers hold the title of minor premiers, the Broncos still have one hand on the wooden spoon after a horror start to their 2021 NRL campaign.
Kevin Walter’s Broncos side sit in 12th place on the ladder after starting the season with a 1-4 record, following another crushing 35-6 defeat to 2021 powerhouse South Sydney.
Walters has finally made the call to drop five-eighth Anthony Milford (six carries for 46 metres) after another lacklustre performance against the Rabbitohs last week, instead opting for a more youthful approach with Brodie Croft given a chance to partner Tom Dearden in the halves.
With just the 77 NRL games between them, Croft and Dearden face off against the high flying dynamic duo of Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary, who have now led their side to 25 wins out of their last 28 starts.
For the Broncos, Tevita Pangai Junior moves into the second row with Jordan Riki moving to the bench.
Corey Oates will play on the wing as a late inclusion to the side, with David Mead shifting to centre to replace Jesse Arthars (illness).
In another change, Ethan Bullemor will move onto the bench after veteran Ben Te’o (eight carries for 72 metres) was ruled out, set to undergo surgery on his bicep.
Former captain Patrick Carrigan has also been named to return at lock after his suspension.
Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has named an unchanged 17 after the team recorded a 20 point victory over the Canberra Raiders, the team’s fifth win of the season.
Averaging almost 30 points per round, the Panthers will be hoping they can continue their hot form in attack up against a Broncos side which has leaked 75 points in their last two starts.
Winger Brian To’o continues to impress, running for a combined 459 metres in his last two games, while bench players Spencer Leniu and Liam Martin will look to once again provide another solid platform from the interchange.
Despite winning four of their last five outings against the Panthers, the Broncos only need to look back to round 17 to know the visitors can spoil the party at Red Hill.
While another loss might signal lights out for season 2021 for the Broncos, a shock upset would deliver possibly the finest moment in recent history for the young side.
For the Panthers, who have had their integrity questioned throughout the week, another win would help them continue on their rise to a second minor premiership in as many years.