Like most rugby league fans, several Intrust Super Cup coaches will be sweating on the lead-up and result to Friday’s NRL blockbuster between Brisbane and North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.
However, the stakes will be far higher for Intrust Super Cup coaches than the casual punter, with the foundations of their 2018 campaigns on the line.
Tom Opacic has been selected in the top 17 for the Brisbane Broncos and was also initially named at centre for the Redcliffe Dolphins.
After a heart-breaking last-minute loss to Souths Logan at Dolphin Stadium in Round 1, Redcliffe will be keen to turn things around when they face Burleigh at Pizzey Park on Saturday.
Coach Adam Mogg has responded to the apparent loss of Opacic by switching Jeremy Hawkins from wing to centre, while Josh Beehag is added to the backline.
Regardless of whether Opacic eventually features or not for the Broncos, it’s still a strong three-quarter line for the Dolphins, with Jonus Pearson and Moses Pangai suiting up.
Pearson has also been named on an extended bench for the Broncos, but is not listed in the NRL squad’s top 17.
The Broncos bench contains some more Intrust Super Cup talent which will be integral to the fortunes of their respective clubs – Sam Tagataese and Todd Murphy (named for Norths) and George Fai (named for Souths Logan).
If Wayne Bennett’s patience is being tested as is reported, another poor showing may shake things up for Broncos-contracted players around the competition, opening up opportunities.
North Queensland seems more likely to send a player back in the other direction, with Michael Morgan named in jersey 19 for the Cowboys and sure to take a spot if fully fit.
That could result in one of the North Queensland feeder clubs receiving a welcome boost.
The Townsville Blackhawks are already sitting pretty after a crunching 56-12 win over Mackay in week one, gifting them top spot on the ladder.
Though not named last week in official team lists, Francis Molo and Carlin Anderson both ended up taking the field for Townsville and have been picked again.
Anderson is the early leader for pointscoring in the Intrust Super Cup, with two tries and eight goals providing a total of 20 points.
Phil Dennis is scheduled to move to 256 Intrust Super Cup games at Davies Park on Sunday when Souths Logan hosts Tweed Heads.
He trails only Danny Coburn (258 games) and Troy Lindsay (270 games) on the all-time appearances list.