Broncos embrace tough run to finals
Broncos forward Matt Gillett has rejected the notion that losses to the competition heavyweights threatens to derail their premiership push, insisting it will steel them for what lies ahead in the Telstra Premiership Finals Series.
The Broncos have named the same 17 that went down 12-10 to the Roosters on Saturday night to face defending champions South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night in a rematch of their Round 1 clash that kicked off the NRL season in Brisbane in March.
In their last five games of the regular season the Broncos have faced finals-bound opponents with a final-round match-up with the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium to follow this week's clash with the Rabbitohs.
In the past three weeks they have suffered two-point losses to both the Bulldogs and Roosters but rather than denting their confidence, Gillett believes it demonstrates what will be required come finals time in a fortnight.
"We've come into the back-end of the year with some tough games but that's going to suit us and that's what we want coming into the finals," Gillett said.
"It's going to be another step going up into the finals so it's a good way to test us.
"Even though we lost against the Roosters, we still played pretty well and I think we've just got to work on a few little things and get that right before the finals."
With a five-day turnaround against teams also fighting for a top four finish the Broncos have spent the week based at Coogee in Sydney's eastern suburbs, right in the heart of South Sydney territory.
The Bunnies sent shockwaves through the competition when they disposed of Brisbane 36-6 in Wayne Bennett's first game back at the club but they have dropped just four games in the ensuing 23 rounds of football.
The Broncos could yet complete a remarkable turnaround by claiming the fifth minor premiership in the club's history and Gillett gave much of the credit to the development of the halves pairing of Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt.
More than 37 per cent of all Broncos try assists in 2015 have been credited to either Hunt or Milford and Gillett said it was their combination that had enabled the team to secure a top four position three weeks out from the finals.
"That was our first game together, new halves combination there as well and they've done a great job this year to gel so quickly and play the footy they're playing," Gillett said.
"They're a big part of why we have been winning and definitely our competing on every play has been a lot better than it has been in the last few years.
"It was a big loss in Round 1, definitely. It was a big game for us with Corey's [Brisbane lock Corey Parker] 300th and we didn't turn up that night, so no doubt we want to turn that around this Thursday night and hopefully get that win."
With a top four finish secure it has been suggested the Broncos may rest a couple of players on Thursday night, but despite carrying a facial injury that required a specially made headgear Gillett said he won't be putting his hand up for a rest.
"I'm all good, good to go," was Gillett's quick response.
"I just took a little bit of a knock last week and it was still a bit tender to touch so [wearing the headgear was] more a precaution than anything. Probably another week or two I might wear it and see how we go.
"It is a long season and players do get tired towards the end of the season but you've just got to think of it as we don't have long left and when it comes to the off-season you wish you were playing again.
"You've just got to think that there's not long left and hopefully that will get you through."