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It was a only few weeks ago that both these teams were being dismissed as top-eight pretenders.

How quickly things change in the NRL.

The Warriors have made their critics eat humble pie with wins in their past two games, while the Broncos have also won two in a row since being towelled up by the Bunnies. The most recent victory being over another top-four side and reigning premiers - the Roosters.

Both will be eager to keep the ball rolling when they square off for the first time in 2019.

And in another first, Warriors five-eighth Kodi Nikorima is facing his former team after gaining a release from Brisbane earlier this month.

The Rundown

Team news

Warriors: Coach Stephen Kearney has made one late change, shifting Bunty Afoa to the bench and promoting Adam Blair to start at prop. Gerard Beale and Tevita Satae were the last players cut before kick-off, while Leivaha Pulu and Chanel Harris-Tavita were pruned from the reserves on Friday.

Broncos: Anthony Seibold has made an 11th-hour switch, dropping Thomas Flegler and elevating Patrick Carrigan to the bench. Izaia Perese was omitted an hour before kick-off, while James Roberts and Sean O'Sullivan were cut from the reserves on Friday night. 

Key match-up

Simply can't go past the battle between Nikorima and his former running mate Anthony Milford. Nikorima had his share of critics at the Broncos and it seems Milford will always have his doubters. Nikorima looks happy and fresh at the Warriors and isn't playing under the pressure he faced at Brisbane. Both players will be keen for bragging rights in their first head-to-head clash.

For the Warriors to win

Confidence is key with this team and right now they have plenty of it. Stephen Kearney is calling the right shots and needs to devise another strong game plan to beat the Broncos. Defence will be paramount, while Nikorima and the productive back three of RTS, Fusitu'a and Maumalo need to maintain their good form.

For the Broncos to win

Last week's hard-fought win over the Roosters should do wonders for the Broncos' confidence and self-belief. They need to meet the Warriors head-on in the forwards and have the same tough mindset that drove them to victory last week. Milford needs to have a big game against ex-teammate Nikorima and the Broncos have to defend with the same commitment they showed against Trent Robinson's stars.

Brett Kimmorley says

Kodi Nikorima goes up against his old club only a couple of weeks after he was told to leave. I thought he was wonderful last week – his support play was strong and his individual try was amazing. This will be a good clash, and the forward battle will be crucial. Agnatius Paasi led the Warriors big men last week and Payne Haas was so good for the Broncos, and is on the verge of an Origin jersey. If both teams play to their ability Brisbane should win a close one. Broncos by 2.

Stat Attack

If it comes down to a field goal, Brisbane have a good man for the job in Anthony Milford, who has kicked an NRL-high three one-pointers this season. Milford also leads the league in kicks (143) and kick metres (4,442). The Warriors are the top team for line breaks (47) and rank in the top three for off-loads (119).

And another thing ...

Little separated the Warriors and Broncos throughout 2018. They both finished with 15-9 records and bowed out of the finals after week one. Of their two head-to- head meetings, Brisbane won the first encounter 27-18 before the Warriors gained revenge with a 26-6 triumph in the return clash.