The Raiders travel to Brisbane to take on the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium for the first time since 2012.
The two teams have had different fortunes as of late with the Raiders winning their last three and Brisbane losing their last three fixtures.
Raiders Captain, Jarrod Croker said the side was wary of a wounded Broncos outfit.
“They’re going to be pretty fired up. They’ve had a couple of tough weeks, they had a tough trip over to New Zealand last week and like you said [they’re a] top four – probably one of the top two sides in the competition. They’re one of the benchmark sides and we’re going up there looking forward to it,” said Croker.
New recruit Junior Paulo, echoed his captain’s comments.
“A team like that [the Broncos] bounce back when they’re needed and during this Origin period, it’s where the going gets tough and the tough teams will have to make do with what they’ve got. They’ve got a young squad in the forwards and they will be out to make an impact this weekend,” said Paulo.
Croker admitted the team was fortunate to win last week and said if they play similarly this week, they will be beaten by the Broncos.
“When we were up by 24 points we got a bit excited and tried to play a bit too much football as opposed to sticking to the game plan. The game plan which we had – and which we normally have – is what gets us those points,"
"It’s not the big plays or the set plays, it’s usually running harder and powerful plays that get us points. We went away from that a little bit and probably gave them too much ball and it probably looked a bit sloppy there towards the end.”
The Broncos currently sit fourth on the ladder with 16 points but a Raiders win will see them overtake Wayne Bennett’s side.
Zac Santo will make his first appearance in green after he was named as Jack Wighton's replacement at fullback. Wighton and Shannon Boyd will both miss the match through suspension. Vaughan comes back into the side for Boyd.
Wayne Bennett has made three changes to the side that lost to the Warriors. Oates and Gillett return after being rested after last week’s Origin match, while former Raider Travis Waddell is named at hooker.
Jack Reed is a late scratching for the game with a shoulder injury. Jordan Kahu moves from the wing to centre to cover for him, with Greg Eden taking up Kahu's wing spot.
Jordan Rapana v Corey Oates
Arguably the form winger in the NRL, Rapana will keep his opposite number very busy in defence. Although he already has 10 tries to his name in 2016 – the second most in the NRL – he has made the highest number of linebreaks in the competition with 16.
Built like a second-rower, Oates is a quick and dangerous winger. He was a constant presence for the Broncos last year but he has come on leaps and bounds this season and was duly awarded a Queensland Origin jersey.
Blake Austin v Anthony Milford
Over the past month, Austin has slowly been getting back to his best after enduring an injury-hampered start to the season. His combinations with Whitehead and Leilua have been improving and he adds another threat to that dangerous right edge.
Since leaving the Raiders, Milford has gone on to become one of the premier players in the NRL. He and halves partner Ben Hunt, have come under criticism in the last three weeks and will be hoping to answer the critics against his former club. With 10 tries and eight try assists, Milford is one of the Broncos more dangerous players.
Junior Paulo v Sam Thaiday
Since joining the Raiders last week, Paulo has already won supporters over with a damaging performance against Manly last week. Jamie Buhrer was the unfortunate victim as Paulo showed off his power with a damaging hit up. In his time at the Eels, Paulo showed that he is more than just a human wrecking ball and has two tries and one try assist to his name in 2016.
The most experienced prop in their side, Thaiday has made 25 Origin appearance as well as 29 appearances for Australia. Although his statistics in 2016 aren’t as impressive as his fellow forwards, he is a key player for Wayne Bennett.
The Raiders have played the Broncos on 48 occasions, winning 19, losing 28 and drawing 1.
At Suncorp Stadium, the Raiders have won six times in 17 attempts.
Last three encounters:
1. Broncos defeated Raiders 24-12 at GIO Stadium, Round 12, 2015
2. Broncos defeated Raiders 28-4 at GIO Stadium, Round 13, 2014
3. Raiders defeated Broncos 30-18 at GIO Stadium, Round 13, 2013
HE SAID IT
Junior Paulo – “I just got back from Sydney this morning. I had to drop my missus and kids off. I guess just the traffic as well, that’s one thing I don’t miss about Sydney.”
CLICK HERE to watch the full interview with Paulo.
Jarrod Croker – “Zac is quiet fella but he’s a talented footballer and his acceleration off the mark is pretty exciting as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing him hopefully in a bit of space tomorrow.”
CLICK HERE to watch the full interview with Croker.
Aidan Sezer – “They’ve [the Broncos] have great players across the board and we have our work cut out for us.”