Critics of under-fire Brisbane skipper Darius Boyd have been told to "back off" by coach Anthony Seibold ahead of Friday night's crunch NRL clash with Penrith.
While Seibold was happy on Thursday to confirm ex-Queensland Reds player Izaia Perese would make his NRL debut off the bench, he was clearly not impressed with the flack Boyd had copped.
In a thinly veiled swipe at Sydney Roosters' Test pivot Luke Keary, Seibold wondered why Boyd had been singled out after the Broncos five-eighth made just two metres from one run in last round's scrappy win over North Queensland.
"Darius for whatever reason seems to be an easy target," Seibold said.
"I had a look through the competition last weekend, there is an Australian No.6 (Keary) playing for a team in Sydney who only made four metres last week and missed five tackles.
"Not one thing was said in the media about that.
"For whatever reason because Darius only had one run, he has been crucified all week from what I understand.
"I just think everyone needs to back off on Darius."
The likes of ex-Broncos skipper Darren Lockyer and Immortal Andrew Johns have been among those who have questioned the attacking prowess of regular fullback Boyd at five-eighth.
But Seibold said Boyd's priority at pivot was not to replicate former playmaker Anthony Milford who has swapped with the skipper and moved to fullback.
"His job is to organise our team. He is not a Milford who is going to take the line on," he said of Boyd, who first featured at five-eighth seven weeks ago.
"He is a leader and getting better and better at it."
Seibold admitted the Broncos attack looked "frantic" last round.
But he had no problem with pairing ex-fullback Boyd and regular hooker Jake Turpin at No.7 in the Broncos halves ahead of their finals tilt.
Eighth-placed Brisbane need to beat Penrith - currently sitting seventh on the NRL ladder - to remain in the finals mix.
"We have a hooker playing seven and a fullback playing at six but that is where they are best suited for our team," Seibold said.
"Essentially they had two sessions to make the change from their respective positions.
"Ideally when you make a change like that you do it over the pre-season.
"But we have only lost one game out of the last six with them in the halves so I think most teams in the comp will take that."
STATS THAT MATTER
* Brisbane have won 10 of their past 13 games against Penrith at Suncorp Stadium, including the last three
* Penrith concedes the most penalties in the competition (7.9 per game)
* If Penrith win, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary will become the 20th NRL mentor to earn victory No.150 but the slowest, notching the milestone in his 316th game
Australian Associated Press