Brendan Piakura‘s journey to becoming a compelling force in the NRL faced several challenges. Piakura’s story is one of triumph over adversity, making his significant progress all the more extraordinary.
A window of opportunity was all he needed to prove his mettle. Just one chance to establish his qualifications for succeeding on rugby league’s most challenging stages.
When he was given his first starting opportunity with the Broncos six rounds ago, standing in for the injured Jordan Riki, Piakura grasped the chance firmly. In his recent five matches alone, he has impressed by scoring two tries, making six line breaks, 19 tackle busts, and averaging 117 running metres per game.
Broncos teammate Kurt Capewell praised the young player, confessing he was uncertain of the limits of Piakura’s potential. He stated they would continue to challenge him in training to realise his full potential.
Piakura was originally tipped for a swift ascent to the top of rugby league, as an Australian schoolboys representative and a dominating force in the Queensland under-18s State of Origin. However, a spate of injuries threatened to derail his progression.
After making his NRL debut as a teenager in 2021, the formidable edge forward was sin-binned in just six minutes. In the following year, Piakura represented the Broncos only once, as calf injuries, hamstring strains and concussions limited his game time in the Queensland Cup to 13 appearances for Norths Devils.
Capewell believes Piakura’s ability to adapt will be critical in their premiership pursuit as the season progresses. The young player’s emphasis on improving his training regime positions him as a central figure in the Broncos attack line, extending well beyond 2023.
Capewell remarked on his teammate’s growth, noting the ramped-up intensity of his training and mentioned the potential impact Piakura can have on a match. Despite Piakura’s exceptional performance in their game against the Cowboys, he will be back on the bench when Riki returns for the game against Parramatta at the Gabba on Friday night.
Riki has been benched since Brisbane’s defeat to the Gold Coast in Round 17, due to a foot injury. Nevertheless, Coach Kevin Walters insisted Riki had proved himself worthy of claiming back his number 12 jersey.
Walters praised Riki for the vigour he brings and his commitment in crucial areas of the game. Walters acknowledged Piakura’s significant improvements, but emphasised the tough competition within the squad. He reflected on Piakura’s chequered start in his NRL career, but lauded his performance in the past few matches.
With Piakura taking significant strides in his NRL career, attention turns to other emerging Queensland forwards preparing to stake their claim.