Raiders before Origin: Thaiday
Broncos enforcer Sam Thaiday has one eye on an Origin recall although he says his primary focus is helping deliver his club side a rare away win over the Raiders on Monday night.
Now back to full fitness after a calf injury ruled him out of six Broncos' matches and Origin II, Thaiday is seeking more game time in the nation's capital to impress Maroons coach Mal Meninga in the lead up to the second Origin clash in Sydney on June 18.
The 28-year-old's calf came through unscathed in Brisbane's comprehensive 36-10 win against the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon, with Thaiday completing two stints in the middle for a total of 36 minutes of game time.
"[The calf] pulled up really good. I was itching to get back out there and would have probably liked more [game] time but the coach was looking after me and it was just a sign of the way the game was going," Thaiday said.
"This week against Canberra is another step forward. I'll get to play a few more minutes – the first 20 minutes [against Manly] I felt really good and got through a fair bit of work and I'm sure that's what 'Hook' [Anthony Griffin] wants to see from me.
"So I'll get through Canberra on Monday and then hopefully get a phone call from Mal and be in the camp with the boys down on the [Gold] Coast and go down to Sydney and hopefully do a job.
"Mal lives down in Canberra now so I'm sure he'll bump into me down there. He'll probably give me a call – I'm still using [phone] credit so I don't want to use all my credit up."
While a Maroons recall for the 20-game Origin veteran is somewhat of a formality, the ex-Broncos skipper is fully focussed on putting on a good performance against the Raiders and their bulking forward pack consisting of current and former Origin players such as David Shillington, Brett White and Josh Papalii.
"Canberra has a massive forward pack and it is going to be a big test for us. I think in previous games we've shown up for half a game – 50 or 60 minutes against a big forward pack – so this week will be a big test for us with our forward pack verses their forward pack," he said.
The Broncos will also need to rectify a poor record against the Raiders in Canberra, having only won one of their past seven clashes at the GIO Stadium. Brisbane's overall record at the venue, formally known as Bruce Stadium, isn't flash either, winning only eight of 22 games with two draws.
With Brisbane enjoying summer-like weather conditions with temperatures in the mid-twenties over recent weeks, the single-figure temperatures forecast on Monday night in Canberra will provide the full-strength Broncos with another hurdle to overcome according to Thaiday.
"[The conditions] are something we can't think about. You always love to play Canberra at the start of the season when it's still a little bit warm down there. On Monday night hopefully there's a decent crowd there to watch us play," he said.
"With those types of [conditions] you just bring different boots, your [compression] skins, wear something underneath your jersey and rub a bit of Vicks on your chest – you tough it out and you play footy.
"We have to go down there and do a job. We won't worry about what we don't have control over, [so] we'll prepare well this week and hopefully get another two points. We've been on the end of a few floggings down in Canberra and I'd love to go down there and break that tradition."