Seibold backs Shibasaki for NRL challenge

Brisbane's three-game NRL rookie Gehamat Shibasaki faces a tough ask marking Latrell Mitchell.
Brisbane's three-game NRL rookie Gehamat Shibasaki faces a tough ask marking Latrell Mitchell.

If Gehamat Shibasaki somehow didn't know how daunting it would be to mark Latrell Mitchell, Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold spelt it out ahead of Friday night's NRL clash with Sydney Roosters.

"It's a great challenge for him, no doubt about that. Plenty of centres have struggled against Latrell this year," Seibold said.

Yet the Broncos mentor insists he has no regrets about brushing NSW incumbent centre James Roberts and asking a 21-year-old armed with just three NRL games to his name to stop the Roosters superstar.

Seibold raised eyebrows when he overlooked Roberts for a second week, adding to speculation that the pair had fallen out at Red Hill.

Instead the Brisbane coach opted for Shibasaki who will line up against the NRL's leading points scorer.

It will mark Shibasaki's first game starting at centre after he came off the bench in Brisbane's round four 36-4 loss to the Roosters and featured on the wing in last week's win over an injury-hit Manly.

He lines up against in-form NSW superstar Mitchell who has scored all of his eight 2019 season tries in the last five games.

Mitchell is now aiming to become the first Rooster to score multiple tries in three straight games since 1980.

But Seibold insisted form in the second-tier Queensland Cup had convinced him that Shibasaki was up for the daunting challenge.

"Latrell is probably the premier centre in the game (but) we have great confidence in him (Shibasaki)," he said.

"We've got Gehamat there for a reason. I feel as though his performances at Queensland Cup level have been really strong, he's pushed himself into a place.

"He was playing out of position on the wing last week which was a little unfair on him but I thought I had to get him in the 13 on pure weight of performance."

Brisbane great Steve Renouf has claimed Shibasaki has been "thrown in the fire" by the surprise appointment.

But Seibold said he liked how Shibasaki had made the step up on the wing last round, running 123-metres and making two tackle busts and a line break.

"He got a taste of the bright lights last week, and while out of position it was a great confidence boost for him," he said.

It seems Shibasaki will need all the confidence he can get.

Australian Associated Press