New Zealand Warriors assistant coach Justin Morgan says his side is wary of a fresh, revamped and all-too familiar North Queensland outfit.
Former Warriors Chad Townsend, Peta Hiku and Jamayne Taunoa-Brown will line up for the opposition on Friday night and have been instrumental in the Cowboys’ early-season form that sees them with a 2-2 record.
Hiku appeared 73 times for the Warriors, Taunoa-Brown 32 while Townsend had 56 caps across two different stints.
Having witnessed their impact first-hand at the club, Morgan knows what to expect on Friday evening.
“Certainly the style that he (Townsend) plays you can see that he’s implemented that on the Cowboys,” he said on Thursday.
“He’s very much the orchestrator of their team, directs them around the field.
“Peta with his nouse and his late offloading ability … they pose a different type of threat to the Broncos but they’re going to be a real challenge for us.”
The Warriors have been forced into changes from their round-four win against Brisbane with Jazz Tevaga (suspended) and Ben Murdoch-Masila (ankle/foot) out, with prop Aaron Pene and back rower Bayley Sironen thrusted back into the line-up.
For the Cowboys, fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is replaced by Scott Drinkwater in his first NRL game of the season, while forward Coen Hess (shoulder) didn’t pass his physical and will remain sidelined.
It’s a first crack for Drinkwater after losing the battle for the No.6 jersey with Tom Dearden, but one that teammate Valentine Holmes expects him to excel in.
“Drinky being a five eighth, he’s very good ball player, quick as well,” he said.
“He can sum up a three-on-two or three-on-one situation and that’s something that we’ll need against a team like the Warriors.”