Broncos brace for hostile Warriors crowd
The Brisbane Broncos are preparing to play in front of a hostile New Zealand crowd as they travel to Auckland to face the Warriors in a must-win clash for both sides.
Both teams head into Saturday's match having lost three of their past four matches and a win for either side would be a huge confidence booster heading into the second half of the season.
A win for the Warriors would see them go within touching distance of the top eight – a huge achievement after such a poor start to the season.
Brisbane simply have to win to keep pace with the top two, with both Melbourne and Cronulla-Sutherland stretching four points clear of the Broncos after last week's bye.
It will be a tough ask for Brisbane to win at Mt Smart Stadium, with the Broncos having only won one of their last five at the venue.
Brisbane prop Jarrod Wallace says his side are wary of a refreshed Warriors outfit looking to put on a show in front of their home crowd.
"Every time you travel to New Zealand it's tough. They've come off a bye so they've had a bit of rest," Wallace said.
"Obviously they haven't had the results they've wanted in the last few games they've played so we know they'll be up for it and it'll be a big challenge.
"They have a huge pack and some really talented players. We expect it to be tough.
"It should be a pretty hostile crowd but it's always good going over there. They get pretty good crowds and we get some supporters but there will be great support for them.
"The bye and the loss the week before that means that their crowd will want to really get behind them and try and get them over the line."
The Auckland-based club will need their stars Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke to deliver after a slow start to the season.
Johnson has been hot and cold this year, leading the Warriors' stats sheet in errors after having made 12 in 11 games this season.
Luke arrived from South Sydney at the start of 2016 full of promise but has so far failed to deliver.
The 29-year-old was dropped to the bench earlier in the season and missed selection in New Zealand's side for the Trans-Tasman Test match.
Wallace said this is half the challenge when facing the Warriors, admitting that he doesn't know what to expect from the erratic side.
"You don't know what to expect when you play the Warriors. They play that sort of footy that's all over the place," he said.
"They have the likes of Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke running around and these guys are great footballers…you never know what they are going to do.
"We are still having a bit of fun. We know there's a job to do. We train from November 1 for games like this. The boys are still in great spirits despite a few recent results."