An average round of NRL play usually presents a few doomsday scenarios. This week it is the Brisbane Broncos faced with such a challenge, up against a disorganised Bulldogs that appear a likely contender for the wooden spoon in 2022.

The Broncos are at home, welcoming back some handy players and up against a team that must simply be beaten if Kevin Walter’s men have hopes of achieving anything at all this season. The number one ranked overall player in the NRL Fantasy competition Payne Haas returns to the front row, Herbie Farnworth is back in the centres and the sight of Te Maire Martin at fullback will be an emotional one for many NRL fans.

Martin’s appearance is necessitated by the absence of Tesi Niu and despite Cory Paix and Tyson Gamble also being new faces in the Brisbane starting spine, the reshuffle should be orderly enough to see them outlast the least impressive team in the NRL.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 22: Cory Paix passes the ball during the Brisbane Broncos NRL training session on February 22, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Canterbury enter the fixture with eleven men capable of taking their place in the first-grade line-up missing. Jack Hetherington, Paul Alamoti, Braidon Burns, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Chris Patolo, Brandon Wakeham and Matt Doorey feature in an increasingly troublesome injury list for coach Trent Barrett and a midweek COVID outbreak in the group has seen four additional players forced out of the trip to Suncorp Stadium tonight.

Three of those players have been ingrained in the Bulldogs' top 17 this season, with Ava Seumanufaga, Jake Averillo and Brent Naden all now in isolation and creating enormous holes in a Bulldogs team that urgently needs every hand on deck.

Even a full-strength Canterbury outfit may not have had the weapons to compete long enough against a Broncos team that already outlasted them on one occasion this season. In Round 2, the blue and white's chronic inability to score points prevented them from snatching what could have been a second win of their season.

Since, things have gone from bad to worse for the Dogs, with beltings handed out to them by the Storm, Panthers and Rabbitohs over the last three weeks. Now, with severe availability issues and two rookies in Jacob Kiraz and Billy Tsikrikas forced to debut well before most believed they would, Canterbury head north with just 56 total points in the bank after six weeks of play, an impotent attack and a leaky defence.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 09: Nick Cotric of the Bulldogs and his team mates looks dejected after a try during the round nine NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, on May 09, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Thus, the numbers all point to a comfortable Broncos win and in turn, the banana skin game to end all banana skin games, with anything other than a triumph for the home side bordering on an unacceptable catastrophe.

They are awful matches these ones. Contests where there appears only one winner have the coach of the favoured team panicky in the lead up and attempting to ensure that there is nothing slack or understated about the preparation of his team.

On Easter Monday we saw a similar scenario play out between the heavily favoured Eels and the embattled Tigers at CommBank Stadium in Sydney and all know the result.

Tonight is simply a non-negotiable for Brisbane; a doomsday scenario where a poor performance will see the team belted from pillar to post in the media and many Brisbane fans feel that some of the early 2022 promise shown against the Rabbitohs and Roosters was nothing but a façade.

Brisbane Broncos Training Session
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15: Assistant Coach Kevin Walters gives directions during the Brisbane Broncos NRL training session on March 15, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

One would be foolish to eliminate a potential smash and grab from the Bulldogs on the road, as a proud club they will turn up in the right frame of mind despite all the challenges they are facing. Yet the match-up arguably gives the Broncos more to lose than win and that presents a worrying night ahead for Walters and the fans.

Most likely the Brisbane squad will navigate the challenge well and bank the two points for their coach. If they don’t, I would love to be a fly on the wall in the dressing after the game. Failed doomsday post-match addresses are always some of the best, and a fifth straight loss will bring just that.