Tariq Sims is on his way to Suncorp Stadium to breath fire again for the Dragons but Corey Oates insists 19-year-old prop Thomas Flegler can be Brisbane's own flame-throwing "new era forward".
Flegler was enormous in his 37 minutes off the bench in the 29-10 win over the Cowboys where he ran for 196 metres, including 74m post-contact, and showcased strength and speed off the mark to make a line break in just his second NRL game.
Last year Sims destroyed Brisbane's edge defence in St George Illawarra's 48-18 elimination playoff and the Broncos are expecting a similar mode of attack from the Dragons on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium.
Both sides are down on forward troops with the Broncos missing the suspended Matt Lodge and Payne Haas, while the Dragons are without the injured Tyson Frizell and Jack de Belin, unavailable due to the NRL's "no-fault stand down" rule.
Oates said Flegler’s natural strength, forged while working on the family banana farm in North Queensland, and remarkable turn of speed made him a devastating prospect.
"Tommy had a great game. He is a tough country fella with a good football head on him. He’s a new era forward and a weapon coming through," Oates said.
"I reckon he’s going to be one of the young fellas to watch. He showed a lot of people [against the Cowboys] what he can do. He’s fast, strong and fit … and he can bust the line. He really scooted for one of those line breaks.
"Our middle really stood up and showed they can handle it with the big boys. Everyone was questioning the age in our forward pack but I don’t think our age has anything to do with it.
"[Tariq] is a great player. He can run real good lines, he’s tough and he’s athletic. He can be a big weapon for them and we will be doing as much as we can to limit that. If we can stick it to a forward pack like the Cowboys then we can do it to theirs, but that is another challenge."
Oates stewed over his poor finals performance against the Dragons despite carrying a leg injury into the match.
"It was the worst way to go out possible but I don’t like to blame injuries for my performances. If I am playing then I am fit enough to be playing to my best ability. I just had a bad game and I don’t want to repeat that," Oates said.
"The way we played previous games to that … it hurt me a lot. It was something I wanted to challenge myself about, to not lot let myself … get into that grey area where I switch off and don’t help my team out. That is something I will be working on."
Veteran forward Shaun Fensom said Brisbane's pack, led by Tevita Pangai jnr, was outstanding against the Cowboys but could not reflect on that for long.
"It is a good buzz when there are big shots being put on and strong carries. You get out there and you feed off each other and there is lots of energy but we need to back up that effort," Fensom said.
"Tevita was great out there and to push through the minutes that [Fleger] did in just his second NRL game was outstanding but we are going to put that game to bed and really concentrate on the Dragons because they are going to be coming."
Thursday night’s clash also looms as Korbin Smis first for the Dragons after serving a suspension incurred while playing for the Broncos in last year’s playoff against St George Illawarra.
Broncos centre James Roberts warned Korbin would be a real threat and determined to make his his return to Suncorp Stadium a major improvement on the poor game he played in his final hit-out for the Broncos.
"Big Korbs will be pumped up and I’m sure he will be firing and ready to go and trying to get into the boys," Roberts said.