Broncos v Warrington: Five key points
Warrington's shock win over the Broncos raised plenty of questions including the pressure on Ben Hunt, the Broncos' deficiencies in the middle, just how do they replace Corey Parker and the need for an attitude adjustment.
Broncos need attitude adjustment
You could put it down to rust but rugby league Immortal and Channel Nine commentator Andrew Johns believes Brisbane's 27-18 loss to Warrington showed some worrying signs regarding their 2017 premiership campaign.
With one of the strongest rosters in the NRL Brisbane are again expected to feature at the pointy end of September football but Johns warned that they need an adjustment to their attitude if they are to go all the way.
Missing Adam Blair and new recruit Korbin Sims the Broncos were exposed in the middle of the field and made some uncharacteristic errors across the park.
Jordan Kahu, David Mead and Josh McGuire all handed over cheap ball when in possession while James Roberts was lucky to stay on the field after coming in late to two fracas that broke out midway through the second half.
It was enough for Johns to express concern at what 2017 may bring for the Broncos.
"For me this year, I really didn't know how the Broncos were going to go," Johns said in commentary.
"For me it was going to be a funny year for the Broncos but looking at their performance in this game they really need an attitude readjustment going into the season because some of their performances out there by individuals was really poor.
"Warrington threw the ball around which got the Broncos out of their comfort zone and they never looked comfortable the Broncos.
"Three of their best players, their most classy players out and Warrington actually rolled them.
"It could have been much worse. Brisbane were really poor."
Having tipped Brisbane to win comfortably prior to kick-off, Johns was flabbergasted at half-time after Wolves had opened up a 20-0 lead after 18 minutes and led 24-6 at half-time.
"I didn't see this coming. There's no way in the world I saw this coming," Johns said.
"You have a look at the calibre of players that are out for Warrington, I thought they'd really struggle against Brisbane. For me Brisbane has been really poor; really poor in this game."
Hunt feels the pressure from the start
It took less than two minutes for Ben Hunt to experience the type of pressure he will be forced to cope with throughout his final season with the Broncos before joining the Dragons.
With his first kick of the game Hunt's attempted chip over the Warrington defence was charged down by Joe Westerman and Kevin Brown scored from the very next tackle.
He had another kick charged down by Brad Dwyer as Brisbane attempted to launch a second-half comeback and had to contend with a swarming Wolves defence at the end of every set.
He and halves partner Anthony Milford both kicked balls dead in the notoriously narrow English in-goal areas and struggled for any kind of cohesion in their first game together in 2017.
Given the rich deal he has signed to join St George Illawarra Hunt has much to prove this year and there's no hiding from the fact that it got off to a shaky start in the north of England.
Broncos bench spots wide open
Given Korbin Sims delivered a powerful performance up front in Brisbane's trial against Wynnum Manly on Saturday night, it appears as though the Broncos' batch of young forwards are fighting it out for a spot on the bench in Round 1.
Joe Ofahengaue and Herman Ese'ese started for Brisbane against Warrington and although Ofahengaue was industrious and the pick of the pair, it was the introduction of Tevita Pangai Jnr and George Fai that gave the Broncos' some kind of platform with which to work from.
The powerful runs of Pangai are sure to feature in Round 1 against the Sharks but the highly-regarded Fai put himself in the frame with 50 metres from just four charges.
Jai Arrow combined nicely with Milford for a line break late in the game but veteran back-rower Sam Thaiday concedes the make-up of Brisbane's 17 to face the Sharks on March 2 remains a mystery.
"There are probably three bench spots that are up for grabs in our squad and a few of the boys really put their hands up tonight to try and secure one of those spots," Thaiday said.
"Who knows where Wayne [Bennett, Broncos coach] will go with his 17 come Round 1 but we're going to be a lot better because of the game we played tonight against the Warrington Wolves."
NRL old boys step up for Warrington
There were plenty of familiar faces within the Warrington team and although their best may be behind them they gave some timely reminders of just how good their best really is.
Shuffled to fullback due to the withdrawal of Stefan Ratchford and captaining the team in the absence of Chris Hill, former Knights skipper Kurt Gidley was faultless for Warrington, handling the Brisbane kicking game with ease and providing some classy touches in attack, including a superb cut-out pass for Matty Russell's first half try.
In his return to Warrington after three years with St George Illawarra Mike Cooper was relentless in the middle third and the aggressive nature with which Warrington started the game had its foundation in the charges of former Bronco Ashton Sims.
Former Titan Matty Russell also showed that he could more than handle a return to the NRL while hooker Daryl Clark and lock forward Joe Westerman would also have attracted the attention of NRL clubs with their displays.
Where to for James Roberts?
After an off-season in which his place in the game was brought into question due to further allegations of off-field indiscretions, James Roberts gave a display of a typically Jekkyl and Hyde nature. Exposed defensively for Ryan Atkins to score Warrington's second try of the game, Roberts used his blistering speed to breathe life back into the contest in the opening minutes of the second half in a 90-metre try that very few players have the ability to produce.
He twice showed a lack of discipline when he ran in late when the match boiled over with some push and shove midway through the second half, the second of which cost his side a penalty.
There's obviously still a discipline issue with the soon-to-be 24-year-old and it will be interesting to see whether Wayne Bennett's patience eventually runs thin.