The struggling Warriors are playing down any advantage they might have in facing a Brisbane side with a clutch of players backing up from the rigours of State of Origin.
Of the Broncos’ six-strong Queensland contingent, second rower Matt Gillett and debutant Origin winger Corey Oates are being rested from the NRL match in Auckland on Saturday.
But fullback Darius Boyd and forwards Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire have been named to start, three days after helping the Maroons take the series opener.
Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman says the quartet are experienced in coping with the demands of the Origin period.
A 14-time NSW representative who missed selection for game one, Hoffman also said players returning from Origin knew they needed to repay clubmates who had helped them get state selection.
“You have this sense of responsibility to make sure you prepare well for your club team,” the back rower said.
“Yeah, it’s tough, but you’re an Origin player. You should be able to come to grips with it.”
The Warriors’ primary concern is rebounding from a limp 38-12 defeat to Canberra before their bye last weekend.
It was their second successive loss and they head into the latest round sitting third bottom in the competition.
Both Hoffman and coach Andrew McFadden vented their frustration immediately after the team’s display against the Raiders, with McFadden threatening to wield the axe.
While this week’s 18-man squad includes six personnel changes, two of them involve the return of frontline backs Manu Vatuvei and Solomone Kata, and there are no high-profile demotions, something McFadden acknowledged.
“I certainly reflected on that performance and I thought it would be counter-productive to make wholesale changes,” he said.
“I need to put some trust in these experienced guys. They’ve played themselves into form before.”
Veteran wing Vatuvei, back after a month out to deal with personal issues, resumes his left-edge partnership with Kata, who has completed a one-match ban for a dangerous tackle.
Brisbane are also looking to bounce back from two defeats in a row which have dropped them from the top of the table to third.
But unlike the clear-cut losses the Warriors suffered, the Broncos were edged in two 19-18 thrillers by premiers North Queensland and the Wests Tigers.
The two sides met in round two at Suncorp Stadium, with Brisbane winning 25-10, but the Warriors put in a gutsy showing before the loss of Vatuvei and centre Blake Ayshford to injury took its toll.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* The Broncos lead the Warriors 22-15 in head-to-head, but Mt Smart Stadium favours the home side 10-8
* When scoring more than 20 points (19 times), the Broncos have always beaten the Warriors, who this season have conceded an average of 27 points in their 11 matches
* The Warriors’ all-time top try-scorer, Manu Vatuvei, returns to the NRL two short of 150 tries