Brisbane enjoy a significant big game edge in Sunday’s NRL premiership decider, with Broncos players boasting double the grand final experience of their North Queensland rivals.
Of the 17 named by coach Wayne Bennett, Brisbane have accumulated a total of 10 grand finals among themselves, while the Cowboys have only five.
Throw in supercoach Wayne Bennett’s 7-0 record on the most important day of they year, against his rival Paul Green, who is in his first grand final and Brisbane have reason to be quietly confident.
In all the Broncos boast 2272 games worth of NRL experience against 2065 matches from the Cowboys.
Brisbane have 158 matches worth of finals experience, a total of 100 State of Origin fixtures across their side and 124 Tests.
In comparison the Cowboys players have played in 147 finals fixtures, 78 Origin matches and 86 Tests.
Skipper Justin Hodges and prop Adam Blair lead the way for the Broncos with three grand final appearances each, fullback Darius Boyd has played in two and Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday one each.
For the Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston has played in two deciders in 2004 and 2005, Ben Hannant played for the Broncos in their last grand final win in 2006, and centre Kane Linnett played in Sydney Roosters’ losing side in 2010.
However when all the big game experience is added up, finals, Origins and Tests, Thurston emerges as the the player who will take the field at ANZ Stadium with the most rugby league know-how under his belt.
Thurston has a whopping 83 matches of big match experience across 18 finals, 33 Origins and 32 Tests.
The next player in either the Cowboys or Broncos set-ups is Sam Thaiday who totals 71 matches across 18 finals, 25 Origins and 25 Tests.
Hodges has 62 matches across 25 finals, 24 Origins and 13 Tests.
Then it is Boyd who boasts has played in 59 big matches: 19 finals, 23 Origins and 17 Tests.
Hooker Andrew McCullough, who has played in 10 finals, is one Bronco who said he had benefited from the experience of the veterans in the Brisbane side.
“The younger blokes are jumping out of their skin but I think it will be like the preliminary final,” he said.
“The older guys just soaked it up playing in front of 52000 people, we just went out there with the right attitude, we have got some momentum now and the experienced blokes will let us know what we need to do for Sunday later this week.”
Thaiday was wary of what Thurston and Scott would bring to the grand final.
That (grand final experience) does help us a little bit,” Thaiday said.
“But in saying that they have some big game players in JT, Matty Scott has played in some big Origin games now, they are their leaders, the forwards play off what Matty does and JT plays off the back of the forwards
“They might not have great grand final experience but they have two big game players there”
BIG GAME EXPERIENCE:
Sam Thaiday: 71 matches – 18 finals including one grand final, 25 Origins and 28 Tests.
Justin Hodges: 62 matches – 25 finals including three grand finals, 24 Origins, 13 Tests
Darius Boyd: 59 matches – 19 finals including two grand finals, 23 Origins and 17 Tests
Corey Parker: 55 matches – 27 finals including one grand final, 16 Origins and 12 Tests
Adam Blair: 46 matches – 12 finals including three grand finals and 31 Tests for New Zealand
Johnathan Thurston: 83 matches – 18 finals including two grand finals, 33 Origins and 32 Tests
Matt Scott: 48 matches – 12 finals, 19 Origins and 17 Tests
Ben Hannant: 35 matches – 17 finals including one grand final, 12 Origins and six Tests
James Tamou: 31 matches – nine finals, 11 Origins and 11 Tests
*Stats courtesy of Fox Sports Stats