It’s the contest that could blow the NRL top four race wide open but Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett claims that hasn’t even been a topic of discussion.
The Sixth-placed Broncos (28) host fourth-placed Canterbury (32) in a blockbuster start to round 24 at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday.
With the Bulldogs set to face fifth-placed North Queensland next week, a win for the Broncos will set up a thrilling chase for the top four in the final weeks of the season.
Bennett however believes form, not ladder position, is what matters to his team heading into the finals.
“We haven’t spoken about it (top four). Our main challenge right now is play consistently well between now and our next two games,” Bennett said.
“If we can do that, who knows what we can do?”
The Broncos trained behind closed doors at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, the first time they’ve taken a session to their home ground this year.
Bennett says there was nothing ulterior behind the decision and it’s normal for the club to hold one or two sessions at Suncorp Stadium during the season.
“It’s just the change of environment. That’s important, they enjoyed it,” he said.
“Sometimes a change of venue is all they need to freshen them up a little bit.”
Playmaker Anthony Milford was cleared to play after completing the hit-out and will aim to replicate his starring role in last weekend’s 38-16 win over Parramatta.
Brisbane have made just one change to that side, with Jordan Kahu returning from a pectoral injury in place of youngster Jonus Pearson on the wing.
Ex-Bronco Greg Eastwood is back in the back-row for the Bulldogs with Raymond Faitala-Mariner dropping to an extended interchange bench.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has labelled the match a “State of Origin style” clash – an analogy Bennett has welcomed.
“I hope they play like the Blues. That’d be good,” he said.
BRONCOS v BULLDOGS: KEY STATS
* Canterbury’s pack ran for combined 1893m against a young Brisbane team in a 40-14 thumping back in June.
* Brisbane have won four of their past six against the Bulldogs and three of the past four at Suncorp Stadium between the two teams.
* Bulldogs winger Brett Morris scored a hat-trick to mark his return from injury in the round 16 win over the Broncos.