Hooker Andrew McCullough says Brisbane need to capitalise on their three remaining home games if they are to make this year's finals series. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Bundled out of the top eight after last Friday's tough 16-4 loss to Manly at Brookvale, Brisbane now face an uphill battle just to make the finals with five rounds remaining.
Sitting in 10th spot on 22 points with a plus-48 points differential, back-to-back losses to the Storm and Sea Eagles have seen the Broncos slip from sixth at the conclusion of Round 19 to now sit amongst the logjam of teams trying to sneak into the eight.
Only a matter of weeks ago the Broncos were touted as potential top-four material, but consecutive wins for the Cowboys, Warriors and Eels have seen the perennial finals qualifiers slither down the ladder.
If the Storm can overcome the Tigers at Campbelltown on Monday night the finals equation for Brisbane further increases in difficulty as Melbourne would jump into sixth spot on 26 points, with the Cowboys and Warriors behind them on 24 points. The points differential of the Cowboys (+106) and Warriors (+90) is virtually double that of Brisbane's, meaning the Broncos are effectively two wins outside the top eight.
The one thing working in Brisbane's favour as they look to avoid missing the finals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1989 is their three remaining games still to be played at Suncorp Stadium.
It all starts on Friday night at home against the out-of-sorts Bulldogs who are currently on a three-match losing sequence.
Following the 'Dogs clash, Brisbane face the Rabbitohs (away), Knights (home), Dragons (home) and Storm (away) with three of those sides currently above the Broncos on the ladder.
Brisbane's finals fate is still currently within their control if they can return to the winner's circle against the Bulldogs and when questioned about his sides tough run home, Broncos' hooker Andrew McCullough was prepared to look on the brighter side.
"You've got to play every team at one stage or another. Even if you look at the teams down the bottom, they've got nothing to lose as well so they can just come out and play footy," McCullough said.
"We've got to look at the positives – with the table as close as it is, if we can string a few wins together it's going to go a long way to getting us into the eight.
"At the end of the day you've got to be positive and play good footy, there's still three home games left for us as well. We're excited about playing and we can certainly turn it around this weekend against the Bulldogs.
"So either way you want to look at it we need to prepare hard this week against a strong team."
McCullough also stated that seeking redemption and learning from last season's finals fade-out wasn't something at the forefront of the team's mind. The Broncos had one draw and four wins during the final seven games of last season, but it was their two losses, back-to-back against the Panther and Knights, that ultimately ended their season outside the top eight.
"You can take a bit out of last year but that's not going really get you anywhere if you don't prepare right," he said.
"Obviously the 'Dogs are one of the top sides in the competition, so we've just got to look at ourselves and making sure we're doing everything right here at home in order to get the job done."