Cowboys enforcer James Tamou says his fellow forwards will step up to have Johnathan Thurston's back as the champion playmaker was on the end of some rough treatment in last Saturday's loss to Newcastle.
Thurston was still visibly unhappy on Wednesday after no action was taken against Knights back-rowers Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith for targeting the star Cowboy at the weekend.
The halfback was still sporting battle scars ahead of Friday night's showdown against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, warning of an "open slather" approach to off-ball hits.
"[The Broncos] probably would have seen a blueprint to the way [Newcastle] beat us last weekend, so no doubt they will send a lot of traffic my way and no doubt that'll keep happening, so I've got to be smarter there," Thurston said.
"We've got teams that will bring that into their game plan now and I think it's open slather.
"I know [the forwards have] got my back, we've got each other's back. I'm not disappointed in that area of the game."
Thurston admitted a need to adjust his game in attack, while managing some of his emotions with humour, said he would need to hide defensively to avoid finding himself in the crosshairs.
"I just need to be smarter there I suppose. Some of those things happen and I suppose it's game on now. You can do that and get away with it," he said.
"Pick and choose my times when I'm running the ball, and where I stand in the defensive line as well. I am normally pretty good at hiding so I think I need to get that back in my game.
Prop Matt Scott was furious after the game about the treatment of Thurston, and Tamou chimed in on Wednesday, saying the big boppers will go out of their way to protect the playmakers.
"In line with the rules of course, but we can't let that happen to Johnno. He's our guy and teams, after seeing that on the weekend, will be looking to do that more often I think, so it's our job in the middle and as the big men to protect him from that," Tamou said.
With a focus on Friday, Thurston was confident the change-up in halves combinations will pay dividends as he lines up alongside Michael Morgan.
"[Morgan is] calling plays, he's not afraid to get the ball in his hands now. Last year did him the world of good and playing in the halves will certainly help him now, so I'm very confident he will get the job done," Thurston said.
"That's probably what's let us down the most the first two rounds is our kicking game, so bringing Cootey in gives us another dimension there and also Morgo has a good kicking game, so we just need to be better about how we utilise our kicking game."