With friends like Brisbane, North Queensland sure don’t need enemies.
The Broncos insist respect – not revenge – will be the motivating factor in Friday night’s NRL grand final re-match in Townsville.
But Brisbane fullback Darius Boyd on Monday wasted little time messing with the Cowboys’ minds, saying all the pressure was on North Queensland in their sudden death semi-final.
“This week we are the underdogs and the Cowboys have everything to lose playing in their hometown,” Boyd said.
“They are playing at home in front of all their fans and we don’t want our season to end.”
On paper Brisbane don’t look like underdogs.
They are on a six-game winning run.
Defending champions North Queensland have lost four of their last seven.
Still, Boyd insisted the Cowboys would be the ones feeling the heat on Friday night – a sensation he admitted Brisbane were all too familiar with.
Boyd said Brisbane had been expected to brush everyone aside in the fortnight since their shock round 25 win in Melbourne.
Instead they faltered.
The Broncos still somehow hung on to clinch wins in those two weeks against the Sydney Roosters and the Gold Coast in last week’s qualifying final.
“It’s hard when you are expected to win games,” Boyd said.
“Against Melbourne we were up for it and did a good job.
“But against the Roosters and Titans we were expected to win and it was tough.”
The last three Queensland derbies have been decided by one point – including the Cowboys’ famous 17-16 premiership-deciding triumph last year.
And another classic looms on Friday night, according to Boyd.
The Brisbane custodian insisted friendships forged in State of Origin were the reason why no derby was dull.
It will be a case of “mate against mate” when a Brisbane side boasting six Queensland State of Origin stars line up against four Maroons teammates in Cowboys colours in the sudden-death semi-final.
“It brings the best out of you. When you play your mates you want to get one up on them,” Boyd said of the close derbies.
“It’s the respect between the two teams.”
Asked if ending the Cowboys’ title defence would provide a measure of revenge after last year’s grand final heartache, Boyd said: “I don’t know about revenge but it would be nice.
“Any time you beat a quality side at their home ground it’s great to get one up on them.
“We’ve had some classic clashes the last 12 months with the Cowboys and I expect this to be no different.”