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Thaiday not a prop says ex-Bronco Niebling
Wayne Heming
19:46 AEST Tue Mar 12 2013

Brisbane foundation forward Bryan Niebling fears current Broncos captain Sam Thaiday's career is being compromised by playing in the front-row.

A key member of Wally Lewis' unbeaten 1986 touring Kangaroos and a defensive rock for Queensland's early State of Origin sides, Niebling would rather see Ben Hannant start the game at prop.

That would spare Thaiday the heavy, physical workload in the middle so he can attack on the edges and not be burned out in the opening 15 minutes of battle.

Thaiday was named at prop and Hannant on the bench again on Tuesday for Brisbane's Friday night round two NRL clash with St George Illawarra in Wollongong.

After watching Brisbane blow a 14-6 half-time lead in last Friday's loss to Manly, Niebling questioned why Thaiday's skills were being wasted by playing him in the middle.

"They (Brisbane) are crucifying him," he said.

"Sam is not a front-rower. He is an edge forward who's best playing a few passes wide of the ruck where he can cause more damage and set players up.

"I don't think you should stifle the skills he has by playing him at prop."

A Rothmans Medal winner who played second-row for Brisbane Valleys and Redcliffe in the 1980s, Niebling also played 13 Tests for Australia and nine Origins for Queensland.

Brisbane have lost their last four games when Thaiday has started at prop.

Since 2008, the record is not too bad - with Brisbane winning 10 of 15 games where Thaiday has run-on in the front-row.

On coach Anthony Griffin's first watch in 2011, Thaiday went 6-0 as a bookend.

But since taking over as captain from Darren Lockyer in 2012, the front-row dividend is far less impressive at 1-4.

Niebling said one of the things that struck him watching the Broncos was that they didn't have a Sam Burgess, Tariq Sims or Tony Williams-sized forward in their pack.

Brisbane's forwards have made some statements since the Manly loss about not being able to look each other in the eye because of their effort.

But old head Niebling said it was action and aggression that was required, not words.

"It's easy to talk about what you have to do, the hard part is actually going out and doing it," he said.

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