The Broncos vs Bulldogs have cut their squads to 19 ahead of tomorrow’s match at Suncorp Stadium . An average round of NRL play usually presents a few doomsday scenarios. This week it is the Brisbane Broncos faced with such a challenge, up against a disorganised Bulldogs that appear a likely contender for the wooden spoon in 2022.
The Broncos are at home, welcoming back some handy players and up against a team that must simply be beaten if Kevin Walter’s men have hopes of achieving anything at all this season. The number one ranked overall player in the NRL Fantasy competition Payne Haas returns to the front row, Herbie Farnworth is back in the centres and the sight of Te Maire Martin at fullback will be an emotional one for many NRL fans.
One would be foolish to eliminate a potential smash and grab from the Bulldogs on the road, as a proud club they will turn up in the right frame of mind despite all the challenges they are facing. Yet the match-up arguably gives the Broncos more to lose than win and that presents a worrying night ahead for Walters and the fans.
Most likely the Brisbane squad will navigate the challenge well and bank the two points for their coach. If they don’t, I would love to be a fly on the wall in the dressing after the game. Failed doomsday post-match addresses are always some of the best, and a fifth straight loss will bring just that.
Expectations were high for both clubs heading into 2022 after some excellent recruiting which saw Adam Reynolds and Kurt Capewell head to Brisbane and Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr and Tevita Pangai jnr arrive at Belmore.
To say the Broncos and Bulldogs have been disappointing in the opening six rounds would surely be an understatement as they find themselves in 14th and 16th respectively with a paltry three wins between them.
Broncos: The injury to fullback Tesi Niu has opened the door for Te Maire Martin to play his first NRL game since April 2019. The 26-year-old retired in 2020 due to a bleed on the brain but has fought his way back and will make an emotional return this weekend. Herbie Farnworth (leg) is back in the centres and Tyson Gamble is the new five-eighth with Billy Walters going to the bench.
Payne Haas returns from his one-game ban at prop so Keenan Palasia moves to the bench. Cory Paix is the new hooker with Jake Turpin nursing a shoulder injury. Thomas Flegler gets a spot on the bench on his return from suspension and Ryan James drops out.
Jordan Pereira, Brenko Lee and Ezra Mam were among those to drop out when the squad was trimmed to 19 players 24 hours before kick-off.
Bulldogs: What was originally just two changes with Braidon Burns (hamstring) and Chris Patolo (head knock) sidelined has been increased significantly after several players succumb to COVID protocols on Wednesday.
Brent Naden, Jake Averillo and Ava Seumanufagai have all dropped out of the team initially named on Tuesday; replaced by youngsters Jacob Kiraz and Billy Tsikrikas, while Jayden Okunbor returns to the wing.