Broncos looking to break Auckland hoodoo
As the old saying goes, records are made to be broken. The Broncos will hope they can snap their Auckland hoodoo on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Warriors in front of their passionate home crowd.
Warriors v Broncos Preview
It's been almost six years to the day since the Broncos last won at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium.
March 28, 2009 was the last time Brisbane tasted victory at the ground (formally known as Ericsson Stadium) and only five of the Broncos' current crop remain from that 26-10 result.
There are some grounds the Broncos notoriously struggle at. Their win record at the Melbourne Storm's old home ground of Olympic Park will forever remain at 20 per cent, at Brookvale Oval it's 29 per cent and since 2001, their win record has been a lowly 23 per cent at Mt Smart Stadium.
The Broncos have only won three times in Auckland since 2001 with their four previous victories at the venue coming between the 1995 and 2000 seasons – including the Warriors' maiden NRL (ARL) game in 1995 when the Allan Langer-inspired Broncos won 25-22 after trailing 16-10 at half-time.
Broncos halfback Ben Hunt has never tasted victory at Mt Smart Stadium from four attempts but it's just not the venue that makes the Warriors so hard to beat across the ditch.
"They're obviously a great side I think. Whenever we play them they're always up for the challenge against us and always play a great game of football," Hunt told NRL.com.
"There are a number of different things that make it hard for us to win over there… I guess we haven’t played as well as we could have over there in the past so we've got to be right on top of our game this week."
In order to shake off their Mt Smart Stadium hoodoo the Broncos travelled across the Tasman earlier than previous seasons with the team departing Brisbane on Friday evening to allow two nights and a full day of preparation ahead of Sunday's game.
"It's a bit different that we are going over on the Friday night – we usually leave [Saturday] morning and get there a bit after lunch time – so it's going to be a little bit different," Hunt added.
"It's always good to get there, wake up, prepare and get into a full day to get in the swing of things."
Being in a camp environment on an away trip is also beneficial to the side's preparation according to Hunt.
"It does (help) a little bit. Everyone gets around and has a bit of fun with each other just relaxing… Not thinking about footy the whole time is kind of a good thing," he said.
"So it just allows us to get there and relax with each other and prepare well."
One Bronco that knows Mt Smart Stadium better than most is veteran back-rower Todd Lowrie, who has played at the Auckland venue 16 times over 12 seasons in the NRL.
Since making his debut for the Knights in 2003, Lowrie went on to play for the Eels and Storm before spending the 2013 season with the Warriors, winning five out of eight games at the venue.
Lowrie played in Brisbane's 19-10 away loss to the Warriors last season and although he has had more playing time at the ground than some, for the 31-year-old, it's just another patch of grass.
"I don’t think it's any different to anywhere else. It's obviously a bit longer on the plane, but I don’t really buy in to the whole 'certain places are harder to win at than anywhere else'," Lowrie said.
"It's a footy field. It's the same [field] dimensions as everywhere else. It's not easy there – they are a good quality side but they don’t often travel to well – so I guess you meet them at their best when they're at home.
"The big contributing factor is not where you play, it's probably how [the opposition] play when you get there.
"I'm not sure how the Broncos have approached games there in the past, but I think the boys are pretty confident we can get the result this weekend."