Des Hasler has warned Manly players that Brisbane will have a point to prove on Thursday night after falling to their worst ever start to a season defensively.
Fresh off last week’s embarrassment to Sydney Roosters, the Broncos will travel to NSW for the first time this year with 132 points already conceded in their opening four games.
It marks Brisbane’s leakiest ever start to a year, and the first time in a decade the club have been ranked last for defence in the competition.
And it shapes as a big problem against a Manly side who have turned on the points under the NRL’s new ruck rules.
The Broncos have conceded a competition-worst 17 tries on their left and right edge, where Manly have scored all their tries with Tom Trbojevic regularly lurking on both sides.
It’s prompted the axing of Jamil Hopoate and Ethan Bullemor, with Anthony Seibold now having to rely on untested combinations.
Joe Ofahengaue will start in the second row for the first time in his career, while Corey Oates will start in the forwards for the first time since 2014.
Ben Te’o is also expected to play limited minutes in the second row off the bench.
“We play tomorrow night a team that has had the blowtorch put to them,” Hasler said.
“I think it’s going to be their mentality tomorrow that is going to be the biggest challenge for both sides.
“That will be the biggest part of it. They have changed a few positions around to try and work with it.”
Hasler meanwhile, is insistent his Sea Eagles have moved on from last week’s frustrations after being wrongly denied in the last minute against Parramatta.
He avoided buying into any real argument on whether forward passes should be ruled on by the bunker, leaving it as a matter for the NRL.
But he does believe his side are developing the steely resistance required to make an impact, after fighting back from 18-2 down against the Eels.
“There are traits that you want to see develop in a side,” he said.
“Resilience is not something you get in a box as a gift and the next day you open it and play with it.
“That’s something in our real make up of the individual and the team. It’s something that takes months and months of dedication.
“You can kind of see how they got a taste of (finals footy) last year … If they want to do that they have to develop those traits the great sides have.”
Addin Fonua-Blake will be passed fit to play after overcoming a shoulder injury, while Reuben Garrick will retain the goalkicking after a wayward resumption.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Manly have scored all 11 of their tries on the edges this season, where the Broncos concede the most of any team.
* Brisbane have scored 20 or more against Manly in their past five meetings.
* The Broncos have been outscored 92-8 in the final 20 minutes of halves this year.
Stats: Fox Sports