Roosters, Broncos fire warning shots: Brown
They are embroiled in a final round battle for the minor premiership but former Dragons coach Nathan Brown believes the performances of both the Roosters and Broncos last weekend should serve as a warning to other finals hopefuls.
The Broncos can keep their claims for top spot at the end of 26 rounds with a win over the Storm on Thursday night but 24 hours later the Roosters will have the opportunity to win a second consecutive minor premiership when they face the Rabbitohs.
Brisbane demolished South Sydney last Thursday night to the tune of 47-12 and the Roosters further emphasised their premiership favouritism by knocking over Manly 46-10 despite being without both Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Writing in this week's issue of Big League, Brown said it should be the manner of those two wins that alert the rest of the competition what will be required to succeed throughout the Finals Series.
"What we saw from the Roosters and Brisbane at the weekend was the result of both sides having already played in some tough games of late," Brown says.
"They're already battle hardened. After all, Manly and South Sydney were supposed to provide the tough, finals style of footy they craved but were blown away!
"The marker has now clearly been set for everyone else to follow."
The margin of those victories may go against the accepted philosophy that you need tough, tight games heading into the finals but Brown believes it will have done their confidence the world of good.
The Broncos must try and better the Storm this week without the services of halfback Ben Hunt after the Roosters showed they can overcome the loss of Pearce and still deliver a dominant performance.
"Any questions people had over whether the Roosters can cover for the loss of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Mitchell Pearce were well and truly answered against a Manly side playing for its season," Brown says in the Round 26 issue of Big League.
"Had they limped to victory or struggled to an unconvincing result there might have been some self-doubt creeping in, but to be missing two of their most important players and still take Manly to town will be a huge confidence boost for them.
"It will also have done wonders for Jackson Hastings. Not only will the Roosters head into the finals full of confidence, they'll head in confident that Hastings can get the job done if Mitchell Pearce isn't able to come back from injury in time.
"It's a similar story for Brisbane. In Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt they have a young halves pairing without a whole lot of finals experience between them, so to produce the performance they did against the defending premiers was an outstanding result."
The Round 26 issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents and at the ground. Digital version also available through Zinio.