NRL reputations don't scare Qld champs
They will be playing on a stage greater than they have ever dreamed of against a team brimming with NRL experience but Intrust Super Cup champions the Northern Pride believe they have the team to be crowned national champions.
The Pride set up a showdown with VB NSW Cup champions the Penrith Panthers as the main curtain-raiser to next Sunday's Telstra Premiership NRL Grand Final in a first ever meeting of the champion teams from the respective state leagues.
It didn't temper celebrations of their 36-4 demolition of the Easts Tigers in Sunday's Intrust Super Cup Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium but Sea Eagles-bound back-rower Blake Leary said that they aren't going to Sydney for the free tickets.
"You can say that the team's down south are stacked with ex-NRL players but we know that we've got a team that's pretty special up here and we believe if we go down there and produce the same sort of stuff we'll come away with the win," Leary said.
"I can't wait. Just imagine how many people get the chance to play in front of that sort of stadium and play in front of that sort of crowd, I can't wait."
Pride coach Jason Demetriou may have some selection headaches to counter with Joel Riethmuller placed on report for dangerous contact when he appeared to thrust his foot into the chest of a prone Troy Giess.
Cowboys-contracted forwards Ricky Thorby (striking) and Ethan Lowe (dissent) were both sin-binned in a chaotic final 10 minutes and could also come in for scrutiny by the QRL match review committee when they meet on Monday night.
Whether any or all are rubbed out of Sunday's NRL State Championship Demetriou said that Jack Svendsen will come into the 17 after he was omitted from the Grand Final in favour of Kyle Feldt.
"The hardest thing was leaving Jack Svendsen out," Demetriou said. "Jack's played nearly 20 games for us and what I did say to him is that he'll play next week.
"That's not a matter of doing him any favours, that's how tough it was to leave him out and I don't think it's fair that he misses both games so well definitely bring him back next week.
"We'll have t have a look at Joely's incident that went on report; it's going to be a busy week.
"There was a lot of niggle going on in the game and I think when the scoreline blew out Easts got a bit frustrated and that was coming out in them and we retaliated a bit.
"The 10 minutes for either player is probably enough for those guys and they'll get a slap on the wrist and hopefully they'll be right to play next week. Ricky's been outstanding for us and again showed today why he's played the NRL games that he has."
In addition to their Cowboys-contracted players, the Pride boast Shaun Nona (Storm) and Leary (Sea Eagles) who will take up NRL contracts in 2015 and Demetriou says the chance to play on Grand Final day is a wonderful opportunity for players such as Ben Spina and Davin Crampton to push their cases.
"It's a dream. The boys want to play on the NRL's biggest stage, it's a massive achievement but this is the big one to be honest," Demetriou said of their Grand Final triumph having crashed out of last year's finals series.
"This is the one where you've put 26 rounds of hard work in, this is the harder one to win. Next week is a one-off game but this is the big one, this is the one that we really wanted to get and now that we've got that we'll focus on next week.
"Players in this league are looking for opportunities to showcase their talent, to get some interest from NRL clubs, and to play on Grand Final day in front of a massive TV audience and every coach in the NRL is going to be watching Grand Final Day, so it's a chance for them to showcase themselves."