The A-List: JOSH HOFFMAN (Gold Coast, Indigenous All Stars & New Zealand)

Hoffman, JoshBy STEVE MASCORD

JOSH Hoffman is said to have greeted reporters for his first media opportunity this year by saying “haven’t seen you guys for a while”.

The smiling 27-year-old Titans fullback was a favourite of reporters during his six years at the Broncos. The Mackay product was always co-operative and good for a quote – perhaps too much so in the eyes of his club, at times.

But things went sour at Red Hill. Not once, but twice. First, while he was away at the World Cup, club-mate Justin Hodges was quoted as saying he was not fullback material. Hoffman’s father Shane attacked Hodges on social media, calling him a “dog”.

Then the cousin of new Queensland rep Dane Gagai – and relative of Wendell Sailor, Ben Barba and Travis Waddell – was repeatedly photographed with Canterbury members of the Kiwis squad – and asked for a release.

There was a season of truce while the Broncos waited for Anthony Milford and Wayne Bennett to arrive – and Hoffman finally got the hell out of Dodge, although only an hour down the freeway.

During it all, Josh maintained an uncharacteristic silence in the mainstream media – even if his social media accounts remained entertaining. This year, he’s dressed up as superhero for the club website, posted Instagram videos to kill the time during the commute to and from training – but has been interviewed only briefly.

A-List meets Josh during a break in training at Burleigh Leagues Club, overlooking the Gold Coast Titans’ new training ground. New, because they were kicked out of a school facility when the drugs story broke earlier this year.

A couple of times, looking back over the past couple of years, Josh will use an expression like “this blew up in the media” … before going onto confirm the story concerned was more or less right. There’s much to catch up with since he last spoke in depth about pretty-much anything. We’ll not pussyfoot around….

HOFFMAN left Brisbane for Gold Coast this year with a season left on his contract. “I had the chance to go in and meet Wayne (Bennett). I didn’t really even have to say much. He sort of knew my position. He just said Darius was coming to the LeagueWeek Back Issuesclub and he wanted Darius to play fullback and he said ‘I know that’s your preferred position and I’m not going to hold you back from going out there and finding another opportunity’. In saying that, he said ‘you’re signed with the Broncos and you’re welcome to stay here and you’ve always got a club here’. He was really good like that. At the time, Canberra were in the mix and Ricky (Stuart) was chasing pretty hard I had a young family, I had a little girl and my wife as well and we were trying to decide on whether we wanted to move to Canberra. It was a little bit too far away considering my wife and her mother were very close. We wanted to stay somewhere … stay in Brisbane. And the Warriors were chasing as well.

“There was a little bit of talk and a little bit of interest (from rugby union) but I don’t think they pushed too hard on getting me over there. That would have been another thing I would have considered but I really wanted to stay and play rugby league. I felt like I had more to give to the game. I rang my manager up and he rang around and I said ‘what about Gold Coast, do you reckon they’d be keen?’ and he gave Neil (Henry) a ring and we set up a meeting and happy days.”

A YEAR earlier, Hoffman had asked for a release while at the World Cup. “I wasn’t sure where I was going to be in the future because of everything happening at the club and my positional changes with everywhere I was being moved. I just didn’t know where I was going to fit in the team and I felt like there was no certainty there at the club. I spoke to Hook (Anthony Griffin) and asked for a release … like I said to Wayne, if I could find other opportunities out there to play fullback. I guess things went a bit sour after that. I stayed at the club. The best thing for me is I didn’t go around kicking stones and dragging my lip on the ground and feeling sorry for myself.

amazon“Me and hook, we don’t have any malice against one another.”

THE matter came to a head when veteran Broncos centre Justin Hodges was quoted as saying Hoffman was not the answer for the club at fullback. “Coming from your own team-mate, you sort of … I know I was young at the time and I took it the wrong way and I understand where Justin was coming from; the Broncos were looking for someone who could ball-play, someone who could be another five-eighth and my game, it’s purely a running game. I like to bring the ball back hard and get as many metres as I can. That’s just what I do. At the time I took it as a personal attack and I got a bit upset after that. That was another thing that made me want to leave the club as well. Having your own team-mate say that, it’s made my confidence go down a bit.” But he never approached Hodges over the slight. “I didn’t want to cause drama over it because at the time we were trying to keep our season alive. I didn’t want to cause drama between team-mates.”

AT the World Cup, Hoffman was photographed with Bulldogs players repeatedly, leading to intense speculation he was headed to Belmore. “I was walking down the street in Manchester and I was with big Sammy (Kasiano) and Franky (Pritchard) and Greggy Eastwood and they were in my ear, telling me to come to the Doggies, you know? They were trying to get me over there. And I was like ‘boys, I’m still with the Broncos and I’ve still got two years left and this and that. Being stubborn boys, they just kept pushing and pushing. We eventually got a photo together and it got in the paper and I think the Broncos took it the wrong way and it was blown out of proportion. It was a bit hard being over in the UK and reading all donate2this stuff on the website and being asked about it as well, getting attacked on Twitter from fans and that. It was pretty hurtful but there’s nothing you can do about that. Everyone’s got their opinions. “

HOFFMAN was overlooked for selection by the Kiwis at the end of the tournament and has not played for his father’s country since. “We played against Papua New Guinea and I did my shoulder and it was bothering me at the time. Steve (Kearney) knew I wasn’t 100 per cent but I was adamant I wanted to play. I guess he thought it was in the best interests of the team to play Kevin Locke. At the time, I was a bit disappointed, a bit angry about it because I would really have loved to finish the World Cup off playing in the finals but the boys really did well to get to the final.”

JOSH appears to be facing an up-hill battle to make the touring squad for England at the end of this season. “There’s a lot of competition for the fullback spot. Dallin (Watene-Zelezniak) has been playing a lot of fullback since (Matt) Moylan’s been out, he’s been going really well. And Roger (Tuivasa-Skeck) is the incumbent fullback at the moment. He’s been playing really good footy. There’s a lot of competition there and also in the backline as well. At this stage I’m just focusing on the Titans. If we can get some wins together, hopefully we can get to play in September.”

BUT since Hoffman signed on with the Titans, Aiden Sezer plus Nate Myles have left and Daley Cherry Evans announced he would not be joining, as originally agreed. DCE “It is a big loss for the club and something Neil’s going to have to shuffle around. I’d hate to be in his shoes right now, trying to figure out what he’s going to do for next year. But I guess in saying that we need to focus on this year. It was disappointing and sad to see Nate leave – such a great player with great experience. I really look up to him.’

Filed for RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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THE JOY OF SIX: Round 23

The Joy Of Six1. WHAT PRICE COMPASSION?

SHOULD a player who gains compassionate leave profit financially from it? According to NRL head of football operations Todd Greenberg, capping payments made to a player released on compassionate grounds – perhaps for the term of the original contract he escaped – will be discussed as part of the salary cap review. Another suggestion was to hand the difference in any contract back to the player’s former club, as compensation. This might work if, say, Ben Barba or Anthony Milford go into the Brisbane’s cap by NRL decree at a higher price than Canterbury or Canberra would be paying them next year. In that case, the difference between that figure and the cap amount could be paid by Brisbane to the Bulldogs and Raiders. “Compassionate grounds, if that (release) is awarded by clubs, they may well make the decision that the commercial terms don’t change,” Greenberg said on the ABC

2. WHAT HAPPENS IN BRISVEGAS

BRISBANE coach Anthony Griffin and his media manager, James Hinchey, are friendly, down-to-earth, likeable fellows. But their approach to talking about the – very necessary – recruitment going on at the club right now is curious. Even after signings have taken place, such as that of Sydney Rooster Martin Kennedy, there is no announcement. Peter Wallace and Scott Prince being told they are in reserve grade, or the club’s interest in Ben Barba and Anthony Milford, are treated as if they are figments of the media’s imagination – but never denied. And on Friday, Josh Hoffman was stopped almost mid-sentence while talking to television cameras . Fans have a right to know who a club is talking to and letting go. If you can’t comment because talks are at a delicate stage, why not say “I can’t comment right now because talks are at a delicate stage”? Melbourne’s squeamishness about anything concerning their departing assistant coaches is equally mystifying.

3. BRENT TATE: ORIGIN MADE ME

BRENT Tate won’t be retiring from State of Origin and wants Australia’s World Cup selectors to know it. Tate has heard coach Tim Sheens will be picked a team with a view to the future; his future will still including playing for Queensland. “I’m very mindful of where I am with my body but at the same time, I think Origin makes me a better player,” said Tate after the 22-10 win over Gold Coast. “Being around that environment, it takes me to another level. It would be really hard for me to to say ‘no’ to it. I feel as if I’m not quite ready (to quit). On the World Cup, he said: “I’d love to go, although I know Tim has said there’s a bit of an eye on the future. I was part of the last World Cup and it would be nice to be able to go there and right a few wrongs. If I get a chance there, I’ll be the first one with my bags packed.”

4. NATIONAL INFORMATION MINISTRY

THE NRL’s ill-advised crackdown on what is arbitrarily deemed “excessive” criticism by coaches of referees will be put to the test today when Geoff Toovey’s post match media conference from Friday is examined. It used to be that you had to question the integrity of a match official to cop a fine; now you pretty much only have to upset the NRL. How can reporters rely on the NRL to enforce media regulations and free speech at clubs when the administration itself indulges in censorship? On a more positive note, the ARLC will attempted to make the link with touch football an international association by encouraging the RLIF to make contact with touch’s international governing body, FIT. We’ve rapped the NRL over the touch footy deal but here’s another brickbat: officials travelling around Sydney in chauffeured cars isn’t a great look.

5. BEING JOHNATHAN THURSTON

YOU may have wondered exactly when Johnathan Thurston turned from a footballer to a role model and ambassador; the sort of fellow who spots kids in the crowd during games and tells the ballboy to hand them a signed kicking tee. The Closing The Gap round, of which he is a frontman, seemed an opportune time to ask him. “When I had that misdemeanour of getting locked up in Brisbane (in 2010),” he said on ABC when I asked. “It didn’t only just affect myself. It affected my fiancé Samantha, my parents, my brothers, my sisters, my family. That’s when I really had a good, hard look at myself and the legacy I wanted to see when I leave football. I’ve got a four-year deal and I want to make the most of these four years because after that, you know, I’ll be in the real world.”

6. MELBOURNE BALLS TAMPERED WITH AGAIN

MELBOURNE have become the victims of ball tampering for a second consecutive week, it is alleged. Last week it was Sam Burgess fiddling with Chambers’ willie, this week it was Knights officials lubricating the pigskin with water. Storm halfback Cooper Cronk complained to referees Jared Maxwell and Brett Suttor that the Steedens had been placed in water before kick-offs and this had lead to at least one knock-on. Melbourne officials did not want to add to the allegation when contacted late Sunday. Co-incidentally, while Sam Burgess is currently serving a two-week suspension for tampering with Chambers, the last known example of interfering with a ball in the NRL was perpetrated by his England team-mate, James Graham last year. Graham rubbed his legs in vaseline, primarily to make him harder to tackle but with the perhaps unintended incidental result of making balls harder to handle too. OK, enough.

And a bonus ‘zero tackle’

7. GREEN GRASS OF WEMBLEY

NEXT weeks’ Set Of Six will come to you from Wembley Stadium, where Wigan and Hull are preparing to take part in a rematch of one of the top two matches I’ve ever seen, the 1985 Challenge Cup final that pitted Peter Sterling (black and white irregular hoops) against Brett Kenny (cherry and white). Playing half for Wigan will be former Parramatta and Cronulla man Blake Green and NRL talent scouts should be glued to Eurosport to check his form. Just about every Australian who signs with a Super League club these days has a get-out clause and experienced halves aren’t really thick on the ground. Blake’s agent Isaac Moses is flying to London for the game but no doubt in a different part of the plane to your correspondent. We’re cheering for Hull though, on account of Mark ‘Ogre’ O’Meley having an opportunity to win something special in his last season.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Hoffman Interview Cut Short

Brisbane - Josh HoffmanBy STEVE MASCORD

MAN of the match Josh Hoffman was stopped by a club official from answering a question about the club’s links with rival fullback Ben Barba in a dramatic aftermath to Brisbane’s win over Parramatta.

On a day which started with Fairfax reporting Barba’s request for a release had become formalised, Hoffman the one shining light in a mediocre clash at Suncorp Stadium that saw the Broncos keep their campaign alive with a 22-12 victory.

But television reporters said Hoffman was dragged away by a club official after being asked about the Barba situation, although the timing of the intervention could have been co-incidental.

“Massive issues post match in @brisbanebroncos dressing room,” Channel Seven reporter Ben Davis Tweeted.

“Club officials pull Man-o-match Josh Hoffman mid intv”

Nine and Seven are expected to on Saturday show footage of media manager James Hinchey grabbing Hoffman by the shoulder and leading him away in the middle of the media opportunity.

Hoffman has spent most of the season on the wing and the club has reportedly courted fullbacks Josh Dugan, Barba and Milford in recent times. Coach Anthony Griffin said he could understand fans wondering why the club needed another fullback.

“I understand that – it would be the same as … I’m the same as everyone else, we ain’t signed anyone,” Griffin told radio Triple M.

“He’s done a great job for us. He’s scored 14 tries on the left wing. He had a great game tonight at fullback, he did a great job for us tonight.”

When asked what the answer was to that question which fans were asking, Griffin answered: “I don’t know. I’m not in the media. People have got to write something. You’re asking the wrong bloke.”

Earlier at the media conference, Griffin said none of the players were under pressure – despite halves Scott Prince and Peter Wallace being told they would likely be in reserve grade if they stayed at the club.

“I don’t know if any of them are under pressure,” he said. “Within our four walls, we’re all content. It’s you guys that aren’t.

“You’re seeing the way they’re playing. Everyone’s playing for each other.”

Asked if he could provide a comment about Barba, Griffin said: “No, I can’t. He’s under contract from Canterbury. You’ll have to ask Des (Hasler).”

One of Hoffman’s heroics was to stop Parramatta superstar in his tracks when he was headed to the line during the second half.

The Eels did not believe Hayne had been seriously injured, despite jarring a knee. Broncos Ben Hunt (cork) and Josh McGuire (knee) were other casualties, albeit minor.

Broncos captain Sam Thaiday said “a better team would have rolled over the top of us” at stages of the match while Griffin was disappointed at the flow of penalties.

“it turns into a game of basketball for the fans, too,” said Griffin. “Everyone is in with a shot.

“Two weeks ago in Newcastle, the penalty count was 2-all. We played about 44 sets against each other.”

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

NRL round 23: BRISBANE 22 PARRAMATTA 12 at Suncorp Stadium

By STEVE MASCORD

JOSH Hoffman is the first choice fullback for World Cup holders New Zealand. But for most of this season, he could not hold down the number one shirt at his club, Brisbane.

The fall from grace of Parrramatta-bound Corey Norman has, in recent weeks, given the 25-year-old an opportunity in his favoured custodian position. But every day, he reads stories in the newspaper the Broncos recruiting Ben Barba and/or Anthony Milford to play – you guessed it – fullback.

Hoffman doesn’t get more upset than to describe the situation as “disappointing”. In the big win over the Eels at Suncorp Stadium that kicked off round 23, he gave every indication that Brisbane and its fans should be more disappointed than him at the prospect of him playing in any other position.

Hoffman posted one of the individual tries of the season in the 28th minute of a match in which the last-placed Eels did more than show cheek.

But it was the little things in the second half, tasks which are specific to fullback play, which helped him display his real class.

Catching a kick in his own in goal and surrounded by defenders in the 48th minute, he somehow negotiated a path to 10 metres inside the field of play.

Not long afterwards, as the last line of defence and faced by two attackers, Hoffman got a hand to the final pass, caught it on the half-volley, and sped upfield. He brought down a flying Jarryd Hayne with 14 minutes left, a try looking inevitable.

Hayne was forced off with a knee injury.

Yet Ben Barba has asked for a release from Canterbury on compassionate grounds and says his most likely destination is Brisbane.

Brisbane led 16-6 at halftime, Parramatta having done their best to stage a repeat of the upset in Sydney earlier this season.

After just seven minutes, Broncos lock Corey Parker was over the line but held up. Not long afterwards, Parramatta winger Vai Toutai stopped a certain try by bundling Broncos Jordan Tahu into touch a few metres out.

But a pinpoint pass from Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough found prop Josh McGuire unmarked in centrefield and the Samoan international almost fell over the tryline to open the scoring, Scott Prince goaling for 6-0.

With Jarryd Hayne a constant danger at five-eighth, however, Parramatta had attacking options on Friday night and his pass put strong-running Ryan Morgan over the centre held a couple of defenders at bay with a strong fend after 18 minutes.

Fullback Jake Malaney tied the scores with his conversion and the deadlock remained for seven minutes.

Ben Hannant’s canny offload in mid-field allowed Jack Reed to put rookie Corey Oates over in the south-eastern corner at this point, with Prince failing with a difficult conversion attempt.

At this point, Hoffman – who reads that his club is buying another custodian every second week – scored one of the season’s better individual tries.

Brushing off feeble defensive efforts by FuiFui MoiMoi and Mitchell Allgood in midfield, Hoffman accelerated into the clear. When confronted by opposite number Mallaney, Hoffman stepped inside him and then brushed off the cover of Ken Sio.

The try was all too easy and the the portents were poor for Parramatta as Prince converted.

But Parramatta again found a way into opposition territory, with Hayne’s pass sailing over the western touchline just before the break. Hayne was at least able to walk off after his collision with Hoffman, a good sign.

The Broncos spread the ball from touchline to touchline to touchline before Peter Wallace put England centre Reed over in the 51st minute.

BRISBANE 22 (J McGuire C Oates J Hoffman  J Reed tries S Prince 3 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 12 (R Morgan r Maitua tries J Malaney J Paulo goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referees:  A Devcich/G Badger. Crowd:  26,407.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

How The Broncos Handle The Origin Period

Brisbane - Josh HoffmanBy STEVE MASCORD

WINGER Josh Hoffman says the cultural diversity within Brisbane’s squad could be a Godsend as Origin approaches.

Traditionally Brisbane have lost a chunk of their squad during the interstate series with the bulk of their players eligible for Queensland as well as having a number of NSW players over the years.

But this year’s lineup includes New Zealanders, a Cook Islander, a Tongan and an Englishman meaning it may be unwise to judge the 2013 campaign based on where Brisbane are heading into the Origin series.

“We have had that history over the years with Origin duties,” said Hoffman.

“We’ve got a few Kiwi boys … that allows a bit of leadership amongst the group but in saying that, it’s going to be tough when we do lose those Origin boys.

“I do put a bit more ownership on myself when we do have Origin duties, when we do have playmakers out.

“Everyone’s got their role to play. Mine is hopefully to get everyone upbeat and get more energy amongst the group.”

The Broncos currently lie in sixth position, their worst after 10 rounds since 2010, when they finished 11th. In 2008 they were sixth and finished up semifinalists.

“We’ve got some good young talent coming through the ranks but it is going to be a big job for them, stepping up to first grade,” said Hoffman.

“But (against the Titans) we had some good players out Benny Hannant, Hodgey (Justin Hodges) and also Staggy (David Stagg) was injured as well.

“It was tough night for us and it’s going to be tough in Origin but hopefully the young boys can step up and get the job done again.”

Brisbane Broncos Record After 10 Rounds 1988-2013 (source: League Information Services)
Year Wins Losses Draws Position Finished
1988 7 3 – 2nd 7th
1989 9 1 – 1st 6th
1990 6 3 1 4th Prelim Finalist
1991 5 5 – 8th 7th
1992 7 3 – 2nd Premiers
1993 7 3 – 5th Premiers
1994 5 4 1 7th Semi-finalists
1995 9 1 – 3rd Semi-finalists
1996 8 2 – 3rd Semi-finalists
1997 9 1 – 1st Premiers
1998 7 3 – 5th Premiers
1999 1 8 1 14th Quarter finalists
2000 7 1 2 1st Premiers
2001 7 3 – 2nd Prelim Finalists
2002 8 1 1 1st Prelim Finalists
2003 8 2 – 1st Quarter finalists
2004 7 3 – 4th Semi-finalists
2005 8 2 – 1st Semi-finalists
2006 7 3 – 4th Premiers
2007 3 7 – 15th Quarter finalists
2008 6 4 – 6th Semi-finalists
2009 7 3 – 4th Prelim Finalists
2010 4 6 – 11th 10th
2011 7 3 – 5th Prelim Finalists
2012 7 3 – 2nd Quarter finalists
2013 5 5 – 6th ??

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

Hoffman Hails Miracle: Reed Passed Me The Ball

Brisbane - Josh HoffmanBy STEVE MASCORD

JOSH Hoffman called it a miracle – but he wasn’t referring to his second try in Brisbane’s epic wim over North Queensland, the one that decided the match.

He was referring to the fact team-mate Jack Reed passed him the ball.

“It was actually a surprise that Reedy passed it – it’s once in a lifetime that he ever passes the ball,” said the man who has scored seven tries in the first six weeks of the season, including five in his last three appearances.

“He’s been good this season. It’s something in the pre-season we’ve been working on at training. What we’ve really been concentrating on is him passing the ball!”

Hoffman wanted to hold onto his number one jersey this season and is a reluctant flanker following the switch of Corey Norman to fullback. While his strike-rate suggests he won’t be moving any time soon, the 25-year-old could be restored to the custodial role for New Zealand against Australia on Friday night.

“I came into the season, especially the pre-season, trying to play fullback – through the trials as well,” said Hoffman.

“It was a bit of a shock when I got shifted to the wing but it’s something you’ve got to do. It’s just another job and just another position that you’ve got to play.

“It still involves a lot or running. “

Post-game discussion from the 12-10 Broncos win centred on a period of play around the 32-minute mark when referee Ashley Klein believed Bronco Corey Parker came from an offside position to make a try-saving tackle.

According to the Broncos, it was the fifth tackle at the time and when the penalty try was ruled out, North Queensland erroneously got the ball back on the third.

“You’re drawing a long bow if you want to give a penalty try for that,” said Griffin.

“He (Klein) took the tackle count back to play three. It was fifth play. We had to do (defend) three more plays after that.

“I don’t know what was going through anyone’s head for that period.

“We don’t whinge about referees but how to you lose a tackle count? We’ve got two of them out there, two on the sidelines, two upstairs and in a game like that, we’ve got to defend two or three more plays.”

According to the Cowboys, the Broncos got a break to reset their defence. Like an early penalty against Ashley Graham for tackling Norman in the air, the calls was deemed glaringly incorrect by coach Neil Henry and captain Johnathan Thurston.

“You think ‘what are the blokes looking at?’,” NQ coach Neil Henry said. “How can they get that wrong? Go figure…

“They’re momentum shifts. You make a line break, you go 50 (metres) and they’re shattered. You give them a two-minute break.

“They’ve got to get that right – Daniel Anderson, please. They’re basic calls.”

Thurston said the delay in the penalty try “rested them up. They were shattered. No doubt it should have been a penalty try or a penalty to us.

“You’ve got Ashley Klein, who’s been around for a while. You’d expect him to get the calls right.

“We’ve been on the wrong end of the calls for a while now. He’s an experienced referee. He’s got to get them right.”

Despite the enthralling spectacle, Griffin said the game “wasn’t pretty”. “We did a lot of things wrong out there, but we refused to lose,” he said.

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Wade Graham: End Rugby League’s Softening-Up Period

By STEVE MASCORD

CRONULLA lock Wade Graham late last night blasted what his coach called the “softening” of rugby league after he was booked – and his side denied a try – for a shoulder charge on Brisbane’s Josh Hoffman.

The shoulder charge issue shot to prominence again in the opening game of round 17, with Graham twice penalised for hits that would have been celebrated in previous decades and captain Jeremy Smith also booked for raising his arm while sitting on the ground in possession.

“We are toeing a fine line with the physicality of football,” Graham said. “That’s what makes it such a hard game. I know I made contact with the head but it’s not like it was a swinging arm.

“It was a shoulder charge. I you ask 99 per cent of fans, I reckon they’d say its ok.”

Graham was a victim of a similar tackle by friend Frank Pritchard last year and commented: “Being a player on both ends of the spectrum I reckon I’m in a good position to comment.

“It forced an error and it should have been a try.

“That would have made it 22-0. It changed the momentum and took the wind out of our sails.”

Smith and Flanagan were far less outspoken on the issue but the coach said: “I just thought it was a good tackle. I don’t know what its coming to

“Jeremy was put on report as well. He’s dived on a loose ball and putting his arm up to protect himself. For me, we’re trying to soften the game up.

“That’s happened forever and a day. There was no intent in that one either and for me there was no intent in Wade’s one either.

“I think it was more a head clash. I’d have to have a look at it. No-one wants to see a player get injured but for me I think it was a really good shot.

“Something hit him, he was really sick. Wade’s gone in there with the intention to put a really good shot and had no intent in hitting him in the head.”

Smith added: “I thought he hit him with his chest.

“I think every one saw (my incident). I just dived on the ball – and they called “penalty”

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said Graham’s 20th-minute challenge was “a shoulder charge to the head … cut and dried” but had no complaints about attempts to intimidate his young side.

“I’d be doing the same thing if I was them,” he said. “You look at our  and we’ve got seven players out, most of them forwards.

“We prepared for that (intimidation) as well.  Once you run out there, you’re fair game.”

Flanagan joked that Graham’s angry-pills performance was a result of sitting in the coach’s box last start and listening to the boss curse. “he said he could imagine what i was saying at one stage,” he said.

It was the Sharks first win at Suncorp in eight years. “Tonight’s (play) was typical of the brand I want us to be known as,” said Flanagan

“We haven’t got a lot of flashy players who are going to pull a team apart but we’ve got a lot who will go the eighty minutes.”

But he thought the period after halftime was “the worst 15 or 20 minutes we’ve played all year .. . we lost a scrum against the feed which is unforgiveable.”

Griffin had no doubt Nathan Stapleton’s 56th minute try was the turning point.

“At that stage I thought we were coming to get them,” he said. “The intercept try did it.”

Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Hoffman Not Resting On His Fullback Laurels

By STEVE MASCORD

HE’S seen off one rival for the Brisbane no.1 jersey but star Josh Hoffman isn’t resting on his laurels after the Broncos’ sizzling start to the season.

Winger Gerard Beale is tipped to sign with St George Illawarra this week, amid reports he wanted to play custodian but realised he was a long way down the pecking order at Red Hill.

“There are a lot of people who want my jersey and I’ve got to work on my game all the time,” Hoffman, who scored the try that got Brisbane back into Friday night’s game against South Sydney, said.

“We’ve changed the way we play a little bit and so far things are going well.”

Beale described the week leading up to the Perth game, with reports everywhere about his future as “a bit hectic”. But after Hoffman’s try, he scored two of his own. He had switched wings following the loss of Jharal Yow Yeh with a terrible ankle injury.

“It’s sad to see him get injured like that,” said Beale. “It’s been [pretty hectic but I’ve been focusing on football and leaving it to my manager.

“It’s almost decided, you should find out soon.”

Hooker Andrew McCullough said the Broncos thought they owed Yow Yeh a victory.

‘You don’t like to see injuries like that,” he said. “He’s a big part of our team. In some ways, if we can take any positive out of it at all, the boys really wanted to play for him. They know he went down with a serious injury and they didn’t want to let him down.

“Hook (Coach Anthony griffin) is really into us about backing ourselves. It didn’t come off in the first half but it did in the second.”

* Since this story appeared, Gerard Beale has signed a three year deal with St George Illawarra

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK