Rather than sabotage North Queensland’s NRL title defence, ex-Cowboy Josh Hannay believes their epic semi-final win has provided it a timely shot in the arm.
There are fears North Queensland may battle to back up from their extra-time 26-20 semi-final triumph over arch rivals Brisbane in tropical Townsville last Friday night.
Especially against a Cronulla side fresh from a week off.
Even Cowboys coach Paul Green has admitted to fears of a second half fadeout against the Sharks in Friday night’s preliminary final at Allianz Stadium.
But former Cowboys centre Hannay believes the rush of winning their high-profile derby against the Broncos play a bigger role than fatigue in the grand final qualifier.
“Everyone is talking about their recovery and travel,” Hannay told AAP.
“But the benefits they would have got out of that victory (over Brisbane) in terms of confidence and belief, that far exceeds any fatigue.
“And the realisation they are one game away from another grand final will really help them.”
Hannay said the semi-final derby was just what the Cowboys needed after their opening finals loss in Melbourne.
“Coming off last week would have given them a lot of confidence,” said Hannay, who played 150 games for the Cowboys from 1998-2006.
“It was probably the win they needed coming off a hard fought loss to Melbourne.
“A local derby is second only to a grand final in terms of build up.
“It was a good game for them to get back up for.”
Hannay hoped the Cowboys could back up – he believed they would need all the energy they could get to blunt a fresh Sharks team.
“I would dare say Cronulla will be fresh coming off the blocks after having the weekend off and not having to travel,” Hannay said.
“I think the key will be the Cowboys matching the start Cronulla will be coming out with on Friday night.”