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NRL News

Thaiday to start as hooker for Brisbane

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Sam Thaiday (right) is seen during a Brisbane Broncos training session at Clive Berghofer Field in Brisbane, Wednesday, March 7, 2018. The Broncos play the St George-Illawarra Dragons in the opening match of the 2018 NRL season on Thursday night in Sydney. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Sam Thaiday will start at hooker with recovering rake Andrew McCullough on the bench for Brisbane in Thursday night's NRL season opener against St George Illawarra at Jubilee Oval.

Despite not playing a trial, McCullough has been named to start in his return from a knee injury that has sidelined him since round 21 in August last year.

But coach Wayne Bennett said regular backrower Thaiday would start at No.9 with Tevita Pangai joining controversial signing Matt Lodge in the starting front row.

Bennett joked Thaiday may be the NRL's biggest rake but had faith in the ex-Test forward after successfully using the same ploy to cover McCullough's knee injury last season.

"I reckon he might be (biggest). He can't claim to be the fastest either," Bennett said.

"But he did a good job for us last year in small bursts (at hooker).

"We just can't play Macca 80 minutes right now - we need Sam to take some of that workload."

Bennett expected McCullough to be eased back into the starting side over the next "four to five weeks".

"We've just got to get him going and after that he will be fulltime," Bennett said of McCullough.

The Broncos coach said he also did not expect to consider star signing, Cronulla recruit Jack Bird, for at least another month due to a shoulder injury.

In other selection news, Jordan Kahu moves to the centres with flyer Jamayne Isaako getting a start on the wing.

© AAP 2018