Star prop Matt Scott has revealed the massive weight of expectation North Queensland have carried south with them ahead of Sunday’s NRL grand final against Brisbane at ANZ Stadium.
Around 500 noisy fans farewelled the Cowboys at Townsville airport on Thursday as they flew to Sydney three days out from the premiership decider.
The Broncos are a side accustomed to success and have six titles to their name, but excitement has reached fever pitch in North Queensland as the Cowboys seek their first premiership.
Scott, with 17 Tests for Australia and 19 State of Origin matches for Queensland, said the Cowboys were doing well to keep a lid on everything.
“There is that expectation there every year – they are hoping for their maiden premiership, it has gone well so far, so it is about not letting it overwhelm us and concentrating on the job at hand,” Scott said.
Scott did concede the players were indulging in their own share of grand final fever.
“There is a fair bit of excitement obviously,” he said.
“They also realise what sort of situation they’re in and what we’ve got in front of us; the opportunity they have in front of us. It’s a good group, a very level-headed group and we get on very well. We’ve worked hard to get to this situation so I’m sure they all want to take advantage of it.”
Much of that pressure is on Johnathan Thurston. But for the superstar playmaker, that is water off a duck’s back.
Thurston is battling an ongoing groin injury, but is not in doubt for Sunday.
“I’m fine, to tell you the truth,” he said.
“It’s business as usual for myself. I’m doing my best to handle it for the team.”
On the pressure on him: “No, not really – we’ve got structures in place and I’ve got people around me that know their job and do their role and it’s the same for me and that’s all I can do,” Thurston said.
Both Thurston and left-edge partner Gavin Cooper were put on ice early in the week but expected to train with the team from Friday onwards.
“It was the calf that he had a little bit tight in the Melbourne game. He’ll be fine. The rest will help Johnno,” assistant coach David Furner said.
Pressed on the health of Cooper, Furner replied: “He doesn’t get the accolades that some other players do, but Coops will be right to go. We’ll wheel him out for one more game.”