In a high-stakes NRL preliminary final clash tomorrow night, the New Zealand Warriors face off against the Brisbane Broncos in a do-or-die match. Both teams are gearing up for an intense battle at Suncorp Stadium and the pressure is palpable.
The spotlight will be on the clash of the No 7 jerseys, with Shaun Johnson for the Warriors and Adam Reynolds for the Broncos. Both have shone for their teams throughout the season, adding an extra layer of anticipation for the showdown.
Speaking to media today, Broncos coach Kevin Walters acknowledged the need to limit Johnson’s opportunities.
“Both have been great, haven’t they, for a long time. This year both of them have come alive with their football teams. We are both heavily served in the No 7 jumper, both us and the Warriors, so it should be another good battle that will decide the outcome.
“It’s like all the great players, you have to take away their time and limit their opportunities. That’s what the game plan is and I’m sure we can execute it.”
A key focus for the Broncos would be their game start, aiming to utilise their athleticism and physicality to set the pace early. Walters emphasised the importance of a strong defensive showing, indicating their readiness to face the Warriors’ challenge head-on.
“It’s been a big focus for us all year, we like to start games well. We are a very athletic side and physical side and we need to bring both those components tomorrow night. It’s been a good week’s prep and I am really excited about the opportunity tomorrow presents for the Broncos.
“They [the Warriors] have had a great season like us, but again it’s about us tomorrow night getting our defence right. It’s been really good this year and we spoke about our defence leading the way again tomorrow night. When we do that, everything else looks after itself.”
Walters also expressed his excitement and acknowledged the crucial role of their passionate supporters.
“It’s now about transferring that support into a good performance tomorrow night, which I believe we are ready for. We have been making good steps over the past 10 weeks to get into this position. It’s really exciting, but we have to turn that excitement into making sure our players are focused on playing some good footy, which I’m sure is there.”
The Broncos, who won the wooden spoon in 2020, were hungry for success, he said, and he saw them as a team rich in experience, not merely a young side. Drawing from their State of Origin and previous grand final winners, he believed the team were well-primed to take on the Warriors, having gained valuable experience from their recent finals clash against the Melbourne Storm.
“Likewise, with the Warriors, they have had a good season like us, so that puts us in a good position to put in a good performance.
“I don’t believe that any game in the NRL can be difficult to win. I just feel the momentum we have got is really exciting. These guys, it’s the first taste of all of this. They are really excited by it and you can see it in the way they are training and their attitude amongst each other. That is really positive and we can build off the energy we can bring.”
Luke Kirkness is an Online Sports Editor for the NZ Herald. He previously covered consumer affairs for the Herald and was an assistant news director in the Bay of Plenty. He won Student Journalist of the Year in 2019.2023-09-22T02:47:10Z dg43tfdfdgfd