Plenty of empathy for the Warriors’ NRL plight may have been shown by Wayne Bennett on Thursday.
But the Brisbane master coach will provide no favours after confirming he will unleash a full-strength backline against the besieged club at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Jordan Kahu (quad) has been passed fit to make a surprise appearance on the wing while Jack Reed (shoulder) will join strike weapon James Roberts (calf) in the centres for the Broncos.
It has ensured there will be no let-up for a Warriors outfit that has copped plenty of flak after their underwhelming season-opening loss to lowly Wests Tigers.
The Warriors were dire in the first half despite featuring Kiwi internationals Shaun Johnson, Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Former coach Graham Lowe was the most vocal critic, claiming the Warriors lacked a hard edge due to their “bro culture”.
But Bennett emerged as an unlikely ally on Thursday.
“The season is one week old. It’s no big deal,” Bennett said of the Warriors.
“The Cowboys lost their first three games and won the grand final.
“We lost our first game last season (and made grand final).
“Read what you want into it.”
Bennett also scoffed at the suggestion it would be hard to predict what the hot and cold Warriors would produce on Friday night.
“I don’t think they are a mystery,” he said.
“I know what they are going to bring, they are physical, skilful.
“They have got quality players.”
However, Bennett won’t show any mercy to the Warriors after confirming Kahu, Reed and Roberts in his star studded backline.
Kahu was expected to be sidelined for two to four weeks after leaving the field early in their season opening win in Parramatta.
Reed had been pencilled in for an April return.
And Roberts had been restricted to light duties during the week.
Yet all got the green light on Thursday, with Kahu to replace Greg Eden on the wing.
Asked about the secret to their speedy return, Bennett said: “They are motivated.
“They enjoy playing alongside each other.
“They don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines longer than they have to.
“Good clubs are like that.”
Bennett may not have had to wait long for his injury list to clear but he admitted he would need to be patient with prized recruit Roberts.
Bennett was unsure when Roberts would hit top gear but compared the speedster’s journey with that of prop Adam Blair and pivot Anthony Milford who shrugged off slow starts to become 2015 revelations.
“It’s just going to take time guys,” he said.
“You wrote about Adam Blair and Anthony Milford last year (during their slow starts).
“Now you can’t write enough good things about them.
“Just be patient.”
KEY FACTS – BRONCOS V WARRIORS
* Brisbane have lost their home opener in four of the past five seasons, including a 36-6 loss to South Sydney in 2015
* Brisbane have won 10 of their past 11 Friday night games at Suncorp Stadium stretching back to 2014
* The Warriors have lost nine straight games stretching back to round 18 last year – two short of their club record 11 straight defeats in 2012-13
* The Warriors have lost five straight away games
* If the Warriors concede 24 points against Brisbane, it will be the seventh straight game conceding 24 points or more