Broncos bracing for bruised Bulldogs
The Brisbane Broncos are bracing for a Canterbury Bulldogs ambush on Thursday night when they travel to Sydney to face Des Hasler's struggling side.
The Bulldogs put in a horrible performance in Round 4, losing 36-0 to the Manly Sea Eagles – making 12 errors and missing 29 tackles in the process.
It has left Canterbury reeling in 13th position with just one win for the season, but Brisbane are expecting an improved showing when the two meet at ANZ Stadium.
The Broncos are high on confidence after a 13-12 win over the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium in Round 4, with the win moving them into the top eight.
It wasn't a perfect performance by Wayne Bennett's men, but it will fill his side with confidence after two closes losses to Melbourne and North Queensland earlier in the year.
Brisbane will now look to make it two wins in a row but it won't come easy, with second-row forward Sam Thaiday warning his side of a Bulldogs team ready to bounce back.
"Manly certainly haven't helped us out at all. I'm sure the Bulldogs will be going through the footage from the game wondering what went wrong," Thaiday said.
"The coach is under pressure and there are players under pressure as well so they'll be ready to play the Broncos come Thursday night.
"We as a team need to make sure we get better and have our heads screwed on come Thursday or else we'll be embarrassed against Canterbury."
One aspect of Brisbane's game that hasn't been embarrassed is their bench, with their four-forward rotation working wonders in 2017.
The experience of Alex Glenn mixed with the youth of Tevita Pangai Jnr, Herman Ese'ese and Jai Arrow has been a real strength of the Broncos this year, with the benchwarmers often outshining their counterparts in the starting side.
They will need to be good again this week against a huge Bulldogs forward pack ready to lift for their primetime match-up.
And Thaiday has backed his bench to do just that, talking up his young teammates as some of the best in the game.
"The bench has been fantastic. They've trained very hard throughout the pre-season and they deserve their opportunity," he said.
"Those four guys on the bench probably have the most important job because they can really swing the game in your favour.
"The young guys like Herman [Ese'ese], Tevita [Pangai Jnr] and Jai Arrow are tackling their butts off and have been fantastic for us.
"That's helped all of us out a lot, especially the starting forward pack."