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31 hours ago
Brisbane has suffered a severe body blow on the eve of its National Rugby League showdown with the Warriors losing tireless Kiwi Test hooker Richard Swain to illness.
Swain, the Broncos' leading tackler and dummy half play maker, has been violently ill since attending a team dinner on Thursday night.
He was ruled out this morning with an SOS sent to Toowoomba's Michael Ryan, who was still in bed when told of Swain's predicament.
"It's a bit of setback," said Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
"He's been vomiting and can't keep anything down. It's either a virus or food poisoning, we're not sure."
Bennett said when Ryan was lying in his bed at 7am this morning the last thing he would have been thinking was that he was going to New Zealand.
"He would of been thinking about Ipswich Reserve," said Bennett."
Bench utility Casey McGuire caused more problems for Bennett when a slight hamstring twinge prevented him from taking part in this morning's final preparations but he is expected to play on Sunday.
Ryan, an Ipswich product like Alfie Langer and the Walters brothers, will start at hooker against the physical Warriors, likely to be without their star halfback and organiser Stacey Jones.
It will be the converted halfback's first appearance for the Broncos and his ninth game for the club since suffering a season-ending injury early last season.
While Ryan is likely to run the dummy half plays, Brisbane has options in McGuire, Neale Wyatt, who trained there a bit this morning - and even Andrew Gee.
"We have to have some back-up and obviously Casey (McGuire) can do that but it was important to give Neale Wyatt a few moments out there this morning," said Bennett.
"He has quite a good pass out of there and he is quite a bright football player who can make good decisions."
Swain's late withdrawal is unfortunate because of his close understanding with five-eighth Ben Ikin and fullback Darren Lockyer who both return from injuries.
The game is huge for both clubs, sitting on 28 points in a cluster of team with the Broncos fifth on the ladder and the Warriors seventh.
But Brisbane will need to crank up its attack with Lockyer and Ikin at least giving it some more weapons in what will be a real arm wrestle between to packs intent on bashing each other into submission.