Over the past three seasons Selwyn Cobbo has emerged as one of the game’s premier wingers and starred on both the Origin and Test stage, but his coach believes it’s not even his best position.
Broncos mentor Kevin Walters made the claim this week during his first media availability for 2024, in which he all but confirmed 21-year-old Cobbo will step into the centre role made vacant by Herbie Farnworth’s departure to the Dolphins.
While Cobbo played four games in the centres back in his rookie season in 2021, he hasn’t started an NRL game there since and last November was picked by Mal Meninga to play for the Kangaroos on the flank, having earlier in the year scored a double on the right wing for the Maroons in Origin I.
But Walters believes moving one spot in will be a better fit for the 1.9 metre flyer in the long run and praised Cobbo’s ability to make good defensive decisions at centre.
“He is probably a bit more natural there in the centres than on the wing. So far he has been really good there,” Walters said.
“He’s still only young Selwyn, so still maturing. But his fitness levels and his strength, they will get better as the year goes on.
“Defensively, I feel that’s where he’s going to be a good asset for us with the way he reads the attack.”
Even after the departure of Farnworth, the Broncos are spoiled for choice when it comes to backline options, with Cobbo’s impending switch meaning impressive youngster Deine Mariner may be left to fight it out with Corey Oates and Jordan Pereira for the other wing spot alongside Jesse Arthars.
While Mariner told NRL.com last year that he views himself as a specialist centre long term, the wing shapes as he best path into the side for the club’s season opener against the Roosters in Las Vegas, with Oates and Pereira having not been part of the first-choice line up in 2023.
“Winger, centre, we have got some good options there. That’s part of this year, having players in the training situations to see how they handle [those opportunities] and adapt to that,” Walters added.
“Deine is obviously a good young player, it’s just about finding the right position for him.”
Brisbane have wasted no time in resuming full training after the Christmas break, with Walters wary of the condensed schedule his side faces due to their involvement in the NRL’s historic trip to Vegas.
Along with the Roosters and Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs – who meet in the first game of the doubleheader at Allegiant Stadium – the Broncos start their season the weekend before the rest of the competition, but then have the advantage of an 11-day turnaround before taking the field in Round 2.
“We have got a shortened pre-season so we have got to ramp it up as best we can,” Walters said.
“Without overkilling it, it’s about getting the most out of our sessions.
“The next six weeks is about us reconnecting as a group, particularly those guys coming in in those new positions.”