It’s D-DAY for the Gold Coast Titans and the Brisbane Broncos.
The two south east Queensland teams go head-to-head at Suncorp Stadium tonight in the first elimination match of the season.
Both sides have a healthy respect for each other.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Titans Coach Neil Henry is all too aware of the experience the Broncos will put on the paddock tonight.
“(Five-eighth Anthony) Milford if anyone needs to be shut down,” he said.
“But if you take your eyes off (Halfback Ben) Hunt he’ll go through you. He’s scored a lot of tries through throwing a dummy and ducking under defenders as well, he’s a strong carrier of the ball.
“We respect their whole squad and we’ll have to turn up and defend everyone.”
Henry has told his team they have to focus on their own game and not let the emotion of the event distract them.
He’s worked the Titans hard this week on fixing their defence, holding on to the ball for the full set of tackles and getting some good speed in their back line.
This will be the Titans’ first finals appearance in six years and their starting 13 have a mere 30 finals matches between them.
The Broncos squad have 124 under their belts.
Just four of the Gold Coast players have been blooded in a finals match – Ashley Taylor, Ryan James, Konrad Hurrell and Nene MacDonald.
Tom Opacic and James Roberts are the only Broncos who haven’t faced the finals maelstrom.
There’ll be no last-minute changes to the Titans line-up. The coach says he’s happy with his team.
New recruit Jarryd Hayne says they’re all focussed on making a strong start in the first few minutes of tonight’s match.
The formula sounds simple.
“We just have to be perfect in every area of our game,” he said.
“It’s going to be great to have two local teams going at it, there’s nothing better than local rivalry so it’s going to be a great game.
“It’s all about executing what we train to do. If we’re able to do that it’ll put us in the best position to win the game but Brisbane have a great forward pack, back line and coach so it’s going to be a tough game for us.
“But at the end of the day we have an opportunity to play our best footy and that’s what we’re hoping to do.”
Greg Bird agrees the opening minutes will be critical, and he’s expecting some fireworks.
“You’ve got to start well, you have be physical and hopefully our boys led by Big Dark (Ryan James) up front will make an impact.
“He plays an aggressive style and I think I’m not far behind so hopefully we can fight fire with fire.
“Sammy Thaiday’s been a massive leader for them and he plays an aggressive style as well so I’m sure it’ll be a good battle in the middle.”
Thaiday knows the Gold Coast will bring their A-game with them and friendships won’t count for a thing.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to win and they’ll be doing the same,” he said.
“The high fives and the laughing and carrying-on; that’ll all happen after the game when we’ve finished playing.”
But for Thaiday the statistics don’t mean a thing.
“Anything can happen in finals footy because we’re all doing everything we can to play again next week.”
1029 Hot Tomato’s Emily Jade will be at the game tonight but she couldn’t decide who to support! Her Husband’s best mate is the captain of the Broncos and Rebecca Frizelle, the Chairperson of the Gold Coast Titans, has challenged her to wear a blue jersey to the game. Luckily 1029 Hot Tomato listener Amanda and Neweys came up with the perfect solution – a hybrid Titans and Broncos Jersey.