Andrew McCullough was knocked out after a controversial hit from Dylan Napa. Picture: Getty Images
Andrew McCullough was knocked out after a controversial hit from Dylan Napa. Picture: Getty Images

McCullough ruled out after controversial Napa hit

THE Broncos have wrapped Andrew McCullough in cotton wool for the finals with the veteran hooker to miss this Sunday's clash against Manly after his sickening concussion which saw Roosters prop Dylan Napa suspended.

Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett will name a temporary hooker for the Sea Eagles clash after McCullough failed to train at Red Hill on Tuesday morning.

The Queensland Origin rake was knocked senseless last Saturday night by Maroons teammate Napa, who has since accepted a three-match ban which will end his season unless the Roosters qualify for the grand final.

The upside is McCullough will enjoy a week's rest before returning for the opening week of the playoffs, with Bennett to decide between Alex Glenn, Josh McGuire and Sam Thaiday for hooking duties.

Thaiday refused to be too critical of Napa but admits the Roosters hitman needs to address his tackling style after he floored a Broncos player for the second time this season following his head clash which broke Korbin Sims' jaw.

"It's just tackle technique, he was apologetic after that with 'Macca'. It's a technical issue that he (Napa) has to work on," Thaiday said.

 

Dylan Napa has been suspended for three matches for his hit on Andrew McCullough. Picture: AAP
Dylan Napa has been suspended for three matches for his hit on Andrew McCullough. Picture: AAP

 

Asked if Napa's ban was sufficient, Thaiday said: "I'm unsure, I don't know the judicial rules, so I will stay away from that."

Thaiday will play his final regular-season game at Suncorp this Sunday and the retiring warhorse admits it will be an emotional day in his quest to go out with a premiership.

"Hopefully we can put in a good performance," he said.

"There are a few different scenarios for me, we could still finish fifth or sixth and get a home semi-final (next week).

"It's still going to be a fantastic occasion. There is nothing better than playing Sunday afternoon footy at Suncorp.

"Mum and dad get down during the week and they will be hanging around for a few days. I also have a younger brother flying back from Germany.

"I will get pretty emotional when I walk down the tunnel with my daughters."

 

Sam Thaiday will play his final regular-season game at Suncorp Stadium this Sunday .
Sam Thaiday will play his final regular-season game at Suncorp Stadium this Sunday .

 

Asked if he was keen to play hooker, Thaiday joked: "Wayne has never let me wear the No. 9 jumper, I will have a chat to him.

"He did all right with a third-choice hooker earlier this year in Alex Glenn. I'm the No. 1 behind Andrew McCullough, then it's Josh McGuire and Alex so you never know, we'll see what happens.

"We will definitely miss Macca, just what he brings to the team attacking wise and defensively he leads our line speed and tackle count every week.

"But it's a blessing in disguise, it gives him a rest leading into the finals, he has a few niggles that he can look after this week."

 

Andrew McCullough will return for the Broncos in the opening round of the NRL finals. Picture: AAP
Andrew McCullough will return for the Broncos in the opening round of the NRL finals. Picture: AAP

 

Thaiday admits the Broncos can't afford to take crisis-stricken Manly lightly after they crashed against the Sea Eagles 38-24 in round 10 in the Suncorp double header.

"We know that Manly will show up to play, they have nothing to lose," he said.

"They will want to come here and shake things up.

"The hardest thing has been our mindset this year (against the lower-ranked teams) and making sure we prepare well against teams we think we should beat.

"We have to get that right this week."

 

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