Brisbane v Warriors preview

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Brisbane Broncos v Warriors Sunday 4:05pm at Suncorp Stadium

Hakuna Matata for premiership also-rans

The finals may be beyond the Brisbane Broncos and the New Zealand Warriors, but that won't stop the two teams from putting on an carefree spectacle on Sunday afternoon.

Showing much improved form over the past month in a sign better days lay ahead for last year's cellar dwellers, the Brisbane Broncos will be aiming to finish the year in winning form.

Pushing the Roosters to the death only to go down 21-20 in a gripping encounter last Friday, coach Kevin Walters will be hoping a similar effort can bring about a more prosperous result against the nomadic Warriors.

Forced to reshuffle his halves for the eighth time this season, Walters has reunited Anthony Milford and Albert Kelly at six and seven with Tyson Gamble unavailable through suspension.

In other team news, Herbie Farnworth returns to the backline with David Mead dropping to the bench alongside Ethan Bullemor, who replaces injured rookie Xavier Willison.
Holding a fierce rivalry with the Auckland-based club dating back to the Warriors inaugural match back in 1995, contests between the two teams have been evenly matched since 2015 with both sides sharing four wins and a draw from the past nine meeting.

Putting together three consecutive victories for the first time since 2018, the New Zealand Warriors will be striving to keep their ‘mathematical hopes' of featuring in the finals in tact.

Doing enough to keep the Bulldogs at bay in an unmemorable 24-10 performance in Redcliffe last Sunday, coach Nathan Brown will be hoping to finish the round on the precipice of the top eight should other results fall favourably.

Welcoming back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Bayley Sironen from suspension and injury, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown will start in place of Jackson Frei, who drops to the extended squad a week after making his first grade debut.

Former New Zealand test captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will line up for his 150th appearance in first grade after missing last week's win over his former team through suspension.

Last meeting: Round 8 2020 - Warriors 26 Broncos 16

Who to watch: In a team that has underperformed for much of 2021, English-born outside-back Herbie Farnworth has been a rare pillar of consistency. Named to return in the centres after sitting out last week due to illness, the 21-year-old has contributed to great effect with nine line breaks, 47 tackle breaks and an average of 142 metres each week with the ball in hand. Coming out of contract at the end of next season, expect the Broncos to prioritise Farnworth's re-signing given his standing as a future representative player capable of playing a key role in restoring the club to former glory.

Starting out the year with Brisbane feeder club Norths Devils, wunderkind fullback Reece Walsh will be out to haunt his former teammates as a Warrior on Sunday afternoon. Taking the league by storm with nine tries, ten try-assists and 13 line breaks in his rookie season, the 19-year-old has captivated fans with his attacking prowess since debuting on ANZAC Day. Locked in a fierce tussle with Sam Walker in the race to be named rookie of the year, expect Walsh to leave the Broncos in his wake should he break into open space.

The favourite: The Warriors are expected to get the job done at Suncorp off the strength of their recent form against the Tigers, Sharks and Bulldogs.

My tip: While the Broncos will give a competitive account in front of their home fans, the daytime conditions should see the Warriors finish ahead on the scoreboard. Warriors by 12.

1. Tesi Niu 2. Corey Oates 3. Selwyn Cobbo 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Xavier Coates 6. Anthony Milford 7. Albert Kelly 8. Thomas Flegler 21. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Jordan Riki 13. Kobe Hetherington 9. Danny Levi 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. TC Robati 14. David Mead

1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Peta Hiku 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 22. Chad Townsend 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 17. Jazz Tevaga 10. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 11. Josh Curran 12. Euan Aitken 13. Bayley Sironen 9. Wayde Egan 15. Bunty Afoa 16. Eliesa Katoa 21. Jack Murchie 20. Jackson Frei

Referees: Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials: Wyatt Raymond, Phil Henderson; Video Referees: Henry Perenara;

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