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Broncos youngster Tesi Niu.

Brisbane pocket rocket Tesi Niu has begun the new year training at centre as rookie coach Kevin Walters weighs up a front line shift for the gun junior fullback.

Niu had been expected to challenge Kiwi international Jamayne Isaako for the No.1 jumper and may yet still do so after both had 2020 campaigns cut short by injury and COVID restrictions respectively.

Isaako had hearts in mouths briefly when he went down at Red Hill on Wednesday, though the club expects him to recover from an ankle sprain and be back at training next week.

With Isaako understood to be Walters' preferred choice at fullback Niu has trained at right centre for the majority of the pre-season.

Given Kotoni Staggs' ACL rupture is tipped to rule him out until midway through the year, Niu's potential move into the front line pits him against veteran signings David Mead, Dale Copley and Jesse Arthurs for a starting role.   

Listed at 177cm and 90kg, Niu is understood to have bulked up over the summer and impressed with his defensive work, though it will remain a key consideration of any position shift.

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The 19-year-old is however regarded as one of the most promising outside backs in recent Broncos history, having earned Tongan Test honours before his NRL debut last year.

Niu also played the 2019 season at centre for Souths Logan in the InTrust Super Cup.

The 2021 season is critical in several regards for Niu as he comes off-contract after undergoing season-ending wrist surgery last July.

Niu signed a one-year Broncos extension last year after he was at the centre of a tug-of-war with local rivals the Titans, where his first cousin David Fifita has since moved on a multi-million-dollar marquee deal.

Speculation Niu would join him was fanned by an Instagram post that suggested he "will follow you my brother sooner or later", though Brisbane were satisfied with his explanation that the post was a fake and that he is willing to commit to the club long-term later in 2021.

Veteran centre Mead, whose one-year Broncos contract was officially announced on Tuesday, said Niu has impressed him most of his new teammates.

"Tesi Niu, he's probably the outstanding one," Mead told reporters.

"He's only pretty young too, [but] he's fit, fast and strong. Once he gets a bit of experience it'll be scary what he can do."

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Mead has spent the past three seasons with Super League outfit Catalans before the chance of adding much-needed experience to Walters' youthful squad was floated.

The 32-year-old boasts 70 tries from 159 games with the Titans and Broncos and is grateful for an NRL swansong he never saw coming.

"The way everything happened with COVID, I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to come back to the NRL even though I'd always wanted to," Mead said.

"I actually couldn't believe when the opportunity came about, but now I'm here I've got to work hard and try and earn my spot.

"I've got a bit of experience now. Just the way I prepare, I try and lead by example, train hard and go out and play hard. If that helps influence and contribute to the team then I'm doing my job."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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