Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett’s years of experience tell him form and fitness are all that matter going into a NRL finals campaign.
Fortunately for the seven-time premiership coach, he feels both those elements are present in his Broncos outfit heading into this year’s playoffs.
The Broncos are still a chance for a top-four finish after their convincing victory last weekend over ladder leaders Melbourne.
A win over the Sydney Roosters on Thursday night and then a North Queensland loss to Gold Coast on Saturday would lift the 2015 grand finalists into fourth spot.
But Bennett says a top-four finish matters less than how his team are travelling going into September.
“The important thing about finals, because I’ve been in a few series, is that you’re virtually injury-free and playing good football at that time of the year,” Bennett said.
“You can be top of the league and you can be playing terrible and you probably know you’re not going to get where you want to go deep down.
“If your form’s good, regardless of where you finish, I just think you can still have a chance.
“We’re both of those at the moment. Our form’s good and we’re virtually injury-free.”
Bennett confirmed on Wednesday hooker Andrew McCullough would play despite missing Monday’s training session with an ankle injury.
The Roosters head north aiming to end a disappointing campaign on a high.
Trent Robinson’s men are gunning for a third win from four starts to end the year but will be without Boyd Cordner and Sio Siua Taukeiaho.
Ryan Matterson and Isaac Liu come into the starting line-up while Mitchell Frei is on the bench along with potential NRL debutant Nat Butcher.
Despite a campaign which has left the Roosters languishing in 15th, Bennett is wary of his opponents after a 32-16 loss in July to the Tricolours.
“They towelled us up about six weeks ago down there – made us look pretty ordinary.
“They’re a good football team still and they’ve had some good results since then against the Cowboys and a few other top sides.
“We’ve got our hands full,” Bennett said.
BRISBANE v ROOSTERS – Key match stats:
* Broncos captain Corey Parker will play his 345th NRL match on Thursday and possibly his final one at Suncorp Stadium
* Former Bronco Dale Copley came back to haunt his old club five weeks ago, scoring twice and setting up another in the Roosters’ 32-16 victory in Sydney
* Roosters star Blake Ferguson has seven tries in seven matches against the Broncos including two in last year’s preliminary final defeat