NRl traisl 2024; Maroons alumnus Matt Ballin slams ‘unfair’ Blake Mozer comparison amid five-way Brisbane Broncos shootout

“Those two things are similar to Smith, but obviously Smith’s gone on and accelerated and is probably the best player ever.

“I don’t think it’s fair, Cameron Smith is one of his idols … but at no stage has he ever said he’s anywhere near as good as him.”

Billy Walters has told media this preseason the pressure in the hooker ranks will ensure he cannot afford a bad game to keep his jumper.Credit: Getty

Mozer will get his chance to press his case for NRL inclusion on Saturday, when he dons the No.9 jersey in the first trial against Wynnum Manly.

But beyond that, the battle for coach Kevin Walters’ two game-day hookers will wage on – incumbent Billy Walters, Mozer, Tyson Smoothy, Cory Paix and young gun Cameron Bukowski all on the club’s books.


It had been reported last year that the Broncos were seeking to offload Paix, who began the season in a firm fight with Walters for the starting job before falling down the pecking order. Yet, the 24-year-old, who had inked a two-year extension through to the end of 2025, dug his heels in.

But Ballin said for all the competition applied by the large hooker contingent, there was an area Walters had sought to dominate in that would make him a shoo-in to run out in Las Vegas.

“The one thing I’ve noticed is Cory Paix has been really competitive at training, he’s been mostly in the Mustangs [reserves], and he pushes our NRL boys every session and that makes all of the squad better,” Ballin said.

“Billy’s had a couple of really good years playing hooker, Tyson got an opportunity … and took it with both hands and stayed there.

“What I’ve seen [from Walters] is he’s applied himself defensively. Hooker’s a tough position, you’re under fatigue the whole game … but he’s just worked hard defensively.

“He’s quite crafty with the ball, but the biggest thing I’ve noticed is when he’s defending he just wants to make tackles. He wants to get up there, stop them getting to an edge, and work hard for each player around him.”

Broncos team list v Wynnum Manly Seagulls

1. Creedence Toia; 2. Israel Leota; 3. Ethan Quai-Ward; 4. Josiah Karapani; 5. Deine Mariner; 6. Josh Rogers; 7. Kurt Falls; 8. Xavier Willison; 9. Blake Mozer; 10. Ben Te Kura; 11. Josh Stuckey; 12. Ethan O’Neill; 13. Cooper Page-Wilson


14.  Cameron Bukowski; 15. Jaiyden Hunt; 16. Bailey Butler; 17. Rory Ferguson; 18. Coby Black; 19. Joshua Patston; 20. Kalolo Saitaua; 21. Tristan Sailor; 22. Bailey Trew

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