PREVIEW 🔍 Robert Crosby looks at what to expect in Sunday night's second State of Origin clash.
6 hours ago
Kiwis rugby league hooker Richard Swain is having trouble figuring out why the Brisbane Broncos are not on their usual winning streak.
"Everyone's putting in the effort," he said ahead of the National Rugby League match against the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland tomorrow.
"We're just not clicking. We're making too many errors and we just can't seem to get to the tryline."
It's been a frustrating season for Swain, who rates his personal performances as below what he wanted to bring to the Broncos before he heads to England with his family for a two-year stint at Hull.
"We've been missing Ben Ikin's direction around the field, and Darren Lockyer gives us plenty of attacking options," Swain said of the two players back for the match at Ericsson Stadium.
"We've been lacking firepower, for sure."
The Broncos play a simple game: big gains on the kick-return from Lockyer and at the start of every set of six from props Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva; holes busted around the ruck by the halves and the second rowers; finish from the speed out wide.
This season the links have been missing, not least because of State of Origin commitments and injury.
"Everyone has been trying to look after someone else's job," Swain said.
"I think we'll be better when we all get back to doing our own job."
Swain doesn't see his impending shift to England as the end of his Kiwis career, during which he has played 19 tests for New Zealand.
The Broncos have brought the imposing Gorden Tallis with them to Auckland, but he is not expected to play because of the knee injury he suffered in last month's test between Australia and New Zealand.
Lockyer is back as captain after recovering from an ankle injury while Ikin returns after a knee tear, an injury similar to one he suffered in Auckland in 2001.
Injured playmaker Stacey Jones is a long shot to play for the Warriors.
Coach Daniel Anderson said he would leave a decision to Jones today, but medical opinion suggests Jones risks aggravating his abductor problem or an old groin injury if he played.
"It's a difficult decision," Anderson said.
"We want him to play obviously, but we don't want to risk further injury."
Anderson also wants his team to harden up.
"It's a long season. Some of the young guys are playing with niggling injuries and bumps and bruises. The injuries sap their mental energy. They have to get over it, it's a sign of maturity."
The Warriors have won 16 of their last 20 games in Auckland and seven of 10 this year.
They have beaten the Broncos in four of their last five encounters.
Warriors: Brent Webb, Henry Fa'afili, Vinnie Anderson, Clinton Toopi, Francis Meli, Thomas Leuluai, Lance Hohaia, Jerry Seuseu, Monty Betham (captain), Richard Villasanti, Ali Lauiti'iti, Awen Guttenbeil, Logan Swann. Interchange: Justin Murphy, Iafeta Palea'aesina, Wairangi Koopu, Sione Faumuina, Mark Tookey (one to be omitted).
Broncos: Darren Lockyer (captain), Michael De Vere, Tonie Carroll, Brent Tate, Stu Kelly, Ben Ikin, Shaun Berrigan, Shane Webcke, Richard Swain, Petero Civoniceva, Carl Webb, Corey Parker, Dane Carlaw. Interchange: Brad Meyers, Andrew Gee, Casey Maguire, Neale Wyatt.