Warriors expect hungry baby Broncos
The Brisbane Broncos will run out onto Mount Smart Stadium this Saturday night missing more than 1200 games worth of NRL Telstra Premiership experience, but the Warriors insist their depleted opponents aren't to be taken lightly.
Without seven frontline players - six away on State of Origin duty with Queensland and hooker Andrew McCullough out with concussion - coach Wayne Bennett has called upon a number of youngsters and players outside of his first-choice 17.
But Warriors standoff Kieran Foran said there was no chance his side would allow complacency to creep into their game, following back-to-back defeats which has seen them drop to 14th on the ladder.
"It can happen, there's times when you can take your foot off of the pedal a bit and take a team lightly [over the State of Origin period], but that won't be happening this week for us," Foran said.
"That won't be happening, we are fully aware of how strong the Broncos outfit is.
"I think more than ever we are on top of the ball, we know we need to take our game to another level to get ourselves out of where we are.
"It's something that doesn’t need to be spoken about, we are all fully aware of the challenge that is ahead. Generally when teams are under strength they perform even better."
Of the players included in Brisbane's 17 for the match against the Warriors, seven have played fewer than six NRL games this year, plying their trade predominantly in Queensland's Intrust Super Cup.
Second-rower Jaydn Su'A and hooker Travis Waddell will both appear at NRL level for the first time this year, while five-eighth Benji Marshall and winger Jonus Pearson have only been seen once in the top squad this season.
Interchange prop George Fai looks set to see his first NRL minutes, after being an unused interchange player in the Round 10 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles.
Warriors big man Albert Vete said his own experience with battling to get back into the NRL side - which he will do this Saturday for the first time since Round 3 - meant he knew exactly how Brisbane's fringe players would be viewing their opportunity in Auckland.
"Those guys have been sitting on the outside waiting for their opportunity," Vete told NRL.com
"They will be excited to get out there and show Wayne Bennett what they have got, just like me wanting to show 'Mooks' [coach Stephen Kearney] what I have got and that I want to stay at this level.
"They have got a few boys out through Origin, so the guys coming in will definitely want to put their hand up to be in the frame to stay in that 17."
Meanwhile Kearney said his former side, who he spent the last four seasons with as an assistant coach, would be significantly boosted by the return of halfback Ben Hunt from a hamstring injury.
The Warriors mentor also pointed to former Kiwis captains Adam Blair and Benji Marshall as players who would ensure the Broncos had plenty of on-field leadership in Round 12.
"He [Bennett] has got some handy players, an international in there in Adam Blair… Benji Marshall, Ben Hunt, so it's not like they are all kids and I am sure he will look to those guys to help lead the way on Saturday night."