Broncos embrace do-or-die mentality
What a difference a weekend can make.
When the Broncos trudged off the AAMI Park turf after last Friday's 22-12 loss to the Storm, thoughts of Mad Monday preparations began to enter players' minds.
Fast forward to Sunday night where a handful of Broncos got together at retired winger Jharal Yow Yeh's house to cheer on the Panthers, who despite some nervy moments, ensured that Brisbane would make the finals after defeating the Warriors 22-6.
The Broncos have endured a mixed run of luck this season with a string of closes losses and the odd refereeing blunder, but after anxiously sitting through a weekend of favourable results, they now know there are no more second chances.
While it was only a two-day wait for the 17 players who played against the Storm, it was a different story for Sam Thaiday, who had to watch helplessly from the stands after missing the match through suspension.
Now given another shot at pulling on a Broncos jersey this season, a rested Thaiday is determined to repay his teammates who performed gallantly Melbourne with a strong performance against the Cowboys in Saturday night's elimination final in Townsville.
"My body is ready to go so I'll be playing to the best of my ability this week to really repay the boys' effort from last week," Thaiday said.
"I'm very lucky, happy and grateful to put the Broncos jersey on again and play in another Finals Series as well.
"We've been given the chance and opportunity now. We probably shot ourselves in the foot a few times this year and had a bit of luck which hasn’t gone our way, so it was good to have something go our way and things fall into place."
The doom and gloom resulting from last Friday's loss was instantly lifted once the Raiders did the Broncos their first favour by defeating the Eels on Saturday night.
Then when Penrith winger Dallin Watene Zelezniak sealed the Warriors' finals fate on Sunday night with a 74th-minute match-winning try, the Broncos' mood burst back to life according to Thaiday.
"It was a very long weekend but the mood Monday morning when we got here [to training] was a good one," he said.
"The boys were bouncing around in the gym and when we got out onto the field to train in the afternoon the boys were still buzzing.
"It was a long weekend of watching football which is something we try not to do, but this was a weekend where I was glued to the TV."
The Broncos have walked the finals' tightrope since their 41-10 win over the Bulldogs in Round 22, giving them a slight advantage over the Cowboys who have had a softer run to the finals, winning their last three games of the season to finish in fifth position.
"It's do-or-die and that's the way we've been playing over the past couple of weeks so our mindset is already in that mode," Thaiday added.
"When you make that [top] eight anything can happen. We've got a tough task going up to Townsville to play the Cowboys who are a team that's on fire at the moment."
A nothing-to-lose attitude could be the secret weapon the Broncos need in order to overcome the Cowboys according to co-captain Justin Hodges.
"It's always good coming in no one gives you a chance. That takes the pressure off us, but in saying that the Cowboys deserve to be the favourites and I think they're one of the best teams in the eight apart from the Roosters and Souths," Hodges said.
"It's going to be a massive game for us, there's no denying that, but there's a lot of things we need to handle going up there.
"It's good to get a second chance and we're really going to enjoy the week."