'The team makes Brookie tough'
Veteran forward Todd Lowrie may lament the lack of space in the sheds, the quality of the playing surface and the interminable drive in during Friday night peak hour traffic but Broncos coach Anthony Griffin says the toughest thing about playing at Brookvale Oval is the Sea Eagles team itself.
Clinging onto eighth spot on the ladder courtesy of a six-point superior for-and-against to the Warriors, the Broncos will be looking for their first win at Brookvale since June 2010 when an Israel Folau double helped them to a 22-6 victory.
The Sea Eagles haven't lost at home since Round 1 when the Storm came from the clouds to win in golden point and will no doubt be feeling even more protective of their home turf given comments made by Lowrie and news that New South Wales Government could be forthcoming with funding to build a new grandstand on the eastern side of the ground as well as an upgrade of the playing surface.
In describing the ground as a "s***hole", Lowrie was less than complimentary regarding the field itself and the comfort level in the dressing sheds but Griffin pointed to a clear competition leader who has lost just seven games at home over the past four seasons.
"For them to be in this position they're clearly the best team in the competition and they've been the most consistent team, there's no two ways about that," Griffin said.
"It's a tough place to play football, Brookvale, and the reason it's a tough place to play football is because of their football team. They're an extremely good football team, they're two [wins] clear on the ladder and that's why it's a real tough place to play football, not the place itself.
"I don't think it matters as a team where you play at. Our form when we've had to go to places this year on the road has been pretty good, Brookvale's just another ground we've got to play at.
"I love those [suburban] grounds. I know commercially they're probably eventually going to get weeded out but they've got great atmosphere, those grounds.
"We've been to all those grounds and performed well, Campbelltown, Wollongong and places like that; we'll play wherever we've got to play."
In order to break Manly's seven-game winning streak at home the Broncos are in desperate need of a better start, having given up sizeable leads to the Panthers, Warriors and Storm in their past three encounters.
The Sea Eagles were also somewhat slow out of the blocks against the Warriors last Sunday and Griffin has highlighted the attention to detail late in the tackle count as integral in earning an even share of possession in the opening stages.
"The last few weeks we've played from behind so it's important tomorrow night that we get away to a better start and get a little bit of ball early in the game," he said.
"We've got to be better at shutting down last plays. That's what's got us into trouble last week. [The Storm] were very good the way they executed but we had a couple of chances to shut down last plays. The week before against the Warriors we made a couple of errors down our own end which didn't help.
"It's such a tight competition and they're two wins clear of everyone now so they're doing a lot of things right. Their halves and their centres are very precise with their execution and everyone keeps forgetting that their forward pack, they haven't got many names there but they do the job every week."
Jack Reed and Daniel Vidot both return to the starting side on Friday night two weeks after being dropped for disciplinary breaches with Reed named on the wing and Dale Copley retained at left centre.
Despite his indiscretion, Griffin said that Reed was an important inclusion against such a quality opposition.
"I just thought that we needed Jack in our team," said Griffin, who will coach game No.95 on Friday. "His attitude's been great since that issue he's had and we just want to get all our experience out there.
"For the last couple of years Jack's been one of our real consistent, better players and his attitude towards the team the last couple of weeks has been great so I want him in the team on Friday night."