McCullough return will boost Broncos
BRISBANE’S missing link Andrew McCullough says he believes the Broncos are not far off regaining their winning form ahead of his return clash with Melbourne superstar Cameron Smith on Friday night.
The 26 year-old Dalby product had pins removed from his broken thumb on Monday and after training with the team declared he was right to return from his longest injury spell.
“I got some results yesterday (from his surgeon) and I had a bit of a throw around today and it’s coming along well,” said McCullough, who still has to show he can tackle and grip in Thursday’s final session.
“My fitness is no drama. I’ve done plenty of running but I have to make sure I can hang on to blokes in tackles and grip and pass properly.”
Last year, with McCullough in the No.9 jumper, Brisbane rolled through the club’s annual State of Origin period without a loss.
But without his defensive services and organisational skills in the middle, the club has floundered through this year’s interstate series.
Since injuring his hand in the 19-18 loss to the Cowboys in round 11, Brisbane has lost to Canterbury (40-14), the Warriors (36-18) and Wests Tigers (19-18), with its only win being over Canberra 26-18 in round 14.
As a result, Brisbane has slipped from first to fifth on the ladder.
Another loss to Melbourne on Friday night would push them to the edge of the top eight.
“It’s hard because you obviously want to be out there helping,” McCullough said. “You want to be part of it, whether the team is winning or losing.”
Brisbane’s halves, Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford, have not been as dominant without McCullough at dummy half and his return for such a huge game at Suncorp Stadium will be welcomed by his teammates and Broncos fans.
Milford, who has missed the quality work McCullough does with the forwards, said his return would be a “huge plus”.
“He helps so much taking the forwards forward and his is a big part of our group,” Milford said.
The glamour No.6 believes he is getting close to regaining the form that earned him rave reviews last season and earlier this year when Brisbane started like world-beaters.
“I’m slowly getting back to where I was at start of the year. I just need to get my combinations with (fullback) Darius (Boyd) and especially Benny Hunt back to where they were,” he said.
While he could not put his finger of why his confidence levels had dipped, he feels things are starting to turn.
“I’m not sure, I think I went away from my game and at various stages of the game I drift in and out and that is where I need to do better,” he said.
Brisbane will also be boosted by the expected return of goalkicking outside back Jordan Kahu, with Greg Eden going down with a knee injury.