Warriors keep same team for Broncos clash

Warriors name unchanged side for preliminary final.
Photo: Photosport

An unchanged side has been named for the New Zealand Warriors’ NRL preliminary final against the Brisbane Broncos at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Head coach Andrew Webster said the 17 players used against Newcastle in last Saturday night’s impressive semifinal win are all fit for the club’s biggest match since 2011.

He said Shaun Johnson was showing no ill effects following his outstanding return from a calf injury in the 40-10 dismantling of the Knights.

Only on the extended bench has Webster made a change with rookie centre Ali Leiataua included for middle forward Tom Ale.

The Warriors are in a preliminary final for the fifth time in the club’s history, 12 years after their last in 2011 when they beat Melbourne 20-12 to reach the grand final for the second time.

In their previous grand final qualifiers they beat Cronulla Sutherland 16-10 to reach the 2002 grand final, lost to eventual premiers the Penrith Panthers 20-28 in 2003 and 6-32 to Manly Warringah in 2008 before the Sea Eagles trounced Melbourne 40-0 in the grand final.

In a season in which the Warriors have won 17 matches so far, it’s a mark of the team’s progress that three of their players were today named in the Players’ Dream Team. In a team voted on by their peers, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who has scored 22 tries in 19 appearances, was named on the wing, Johnson at halfback and Addin Fonua-Blake in the front row.

This will be the Warriors’ 21st finals match since they first reached the NRL play-offs in 2001.

It will be only the second time they’ve met the Broncos in a play-off, the last being in week one of the 2011 series when they went down 10-40 at Suncorp Stadium before beating Wests Tigers and the Storm to reach the grand final.

It will be the 48th time the two club’s have met more than 28 years after kicking off their rivalry in the Warriors’ debut appearance in the opening match of the 1995 season.

The ledger shows 20 wins to the Warriors, 26 to Brisbane and an 18-18 draw at Suncorp Stadium in 2019.

When the teams met for the only time in the 2023 regular season in Napier in May the Warriors were edged out 22-26 after staging a dramatic comeback.

The Broncos were without their Origin players that night while the Warriors were missing hooker Wayde Egan, standoff Te Maire Martin and first-choice forwards Mitchell Barnett, Dylan Walker and Jazz Tevaga.

Warriors for preliminary final against Brisbane Broncos

1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad

2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

3 Rocco Berry

4 Adam Pompey

5 Marcelo Montoya

6 Te Maire Martin

7 Shaun Johnson

8 Addin Fonua-Blake

9 Wayde Egan

10 Mitchell Barnett

11 Jackson Ford

12 Marata Niukore

13 Tohu Harris (C)


14 Dylan Walker

15 Jazz Tevaga

16 Bayley Sironen

17 Josh Curran

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