Close Queensland NRL derbies appear to be an addition to life’s few certainties before Friday night’s NRL sudden death semi-final in Townsville.
But Brisbane master coach Wayne Bennett suggested another on Thursday – defending champion North Queensland’s game plan.
Coach Paul Green reckoned it was a compliment that Bennett believed the Cowboys were predictable ahead of their grand final re-match.
The past three derbies have been decided by one point including North Queensland’s thrilling 17-16 golden-point 2015 premiership triumph.
Many have predicted another thriller but Bennett revealed he knew exactly what awaited them before an expected sold-out 1300SMILES Stadium.
“They’ve got to that stage where they’re predictable – and good teams are predictable,” Bennett said.
“You don’t have to watch the game to know how Melbourne Storm’s going to play.
“Cowboys are in the same category. That’s the key to successful teams, to do that thing over and over again.
“Everybody knows what they’re doing but they can’t stop it.
“It’s the challenge.”
Green – a former Broncos player under Bennett – seemed chuffed by his former coach’s comparison.
“Routine is very good – everyone knows what their role is,” he said.
“It has worked for us in the past. There is no point reinventing the wheel.
“It is not about big plays – it is about big efforts.”
Green also felt he knew from personal experience what seven-time premiership winner Bennett would be up to this week.
“Knowing Wayne, he will lift the intensity a little bit, expect a bit more from players around the place.
“One of his strengths is his ability to keep things simple for his players – I am sure that will be his message.”
So is Bennett predictable too?
“They weren’t my words,” Green smiled.
“I just said that was one of Wayne’s strengths – he just demands a bit more intensity ahead of these big games.”
Brisbane have lost strike centre James Roberts to suspension.
North Queensland are reeling from the loss of back-rower Ethan Lowe (spine) and centre Kane Linnett (hamstring) while sweating on winger Antonio Winterstein (ribs).
But Green believed tapping into the spirit that brought them their maiden title last year might yet give the Cowboys the edge.
“What we went through last year gave them a taste and I can sense that they want more,” he said.
“I can sense motivation there but we won’t truly know until Friday night.
“We’ve got that experience to draw on. Hopefully, it will benefit us as far as we go in the competition.”
KEY STATS – COWBOYS V BRONCOS:
* One point has decided the past three Queensland derbies; the only other time was in 1927-28 between Glebe and North Sydney
* The Cowboys have won four of five finals against the Broncos
* The Cowboys have never lost in six finals in Townsville, and have won 11 of 12 home games this year
* Retiring Brisbane captain Corey Parker will play his 347th game, making him the fourth most-capped NRL player