Broncos embrace Anzac spirit
It is insensitive to compare the acts on a football field with the horrors of war but the same sense of mateship that helped to fortify the Anzac spirit on the battlefields of Gallipoli is driving the resurgence of the Brisbane Broncos into becoming genuine premiership contenders.
For just the second time in the club's history the Broncos will host the Rabbitohs in an Anzac Day blockbuster at Suncorp Stadium that is expected to bust through the 45,000 crowd mark for the first time since 2011.
The two sides will be led onto the field by soldiers from the 2/14 Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) before the Ode, Last Post, a minute's silence and the National Anthem are performed as part of the pre-match ceremony.
The Broncos delivered their most complete performance of the season when they accounted for the Knights 32-6 last Friday night and if not for last-minute losses to both the Roosters and Titans would be sitting pretty as outright competition leaders after seven rounds.
The Broncos' 35 try saves through seven weeks are 10 more than the next best team in the NRL and prop Martin Kennedy is adamant that a commitment between teammates is behind their strong start to the year.
"Our defence is everything for us. If we go into a game and have a really good defensive win, and we miss a few finishing touches on our attack, we'll still walk away happy," Kennedy said. "Whereas if you go out there and throw the ball around and score a thousand tries but miss plenty of tackles at the same time, it's pretty hard to walk off the field and feel good about yourself.
"A lot of it is attitude and being there for your mate, but that works in attack and defence. You can see Benny Barba's try on the weekend was all about backing up and support back in the middle. You can't criticise any of their attitudes. Everyone is really pumped to turn up every week and we all love training with each other and defending for each other so the attitude is definitely there.
"How impressive is it when you can have all your backs throw their hands under the ball just as [the opposition] are about to score a try every week? That sort of stuff for a forward is just immense for us.
"You don't mind defending for another set of six if they get a drop-out or they get back-to-back sets on our line. If the backs are going to throw themselves in front of the forwards on the line like that it makes our job pretty easy."
Kennedy was part of the Roosters defensive unit that was ranked second through 26 rounds and went on to deliver the club the 2013 premiership and was delighted to see a similar focus on defence upon his arrival to Brisbane in the off-season.
"It's pretty common knowledge now that if you're not in the top two defensive teams each year you're not any chance of winning the comp," Kennedy said. "You go back and look through I think it's the last 10 years, maybe excluding the Tigers in 2005, the premiers have come from the top two defensive teams and have consistently been the top defensive teams throughout the year.
"That was certainly a focus for us last year and coming up here it was such a pleasant surprise to find that was all we wanted to do."
Kennedy and Daniel Vidot are the only members of the Brisbane team to have played in Anzac Day clashes previously for the Roosters and Dragons respectively and both are excited at the prospect of playing on such a significant day at a packed Suncorp Stadium.
Although he insists the preparation is like any other week in the NRL, Vidot admitted that standing to attention while 'The Last Post' is being played brings an extra edge to the moments before kick-off.
"It definitely lifts you and gets your confidence up, everyone's pumped for the game when it comes on," Vidot said of hearing 'The Last Post' prior to kick-off.
"Obviously you don't forget the significance about the trumpet playing and the Anzacs and all the brave people that looked after the country and that's a big thing to think about.
"Lots of respect to that and we take it personally, it's a big pump-up for the game.
"I haven't experienced it here with the Broncos yet but we're expecting a sell-out so I can't wait, I think it's going to be a really exciting game."
Adds Kennedy: "It's obviously a big event, there's a lot of hype around it and it's a special day. We get to celebrate so many achievements of so many men before us and for those boys who haven't played in it already they're in for a real treat."