Brisbane Broncos prop Adam Blair has revealed the challenge both the Broncos and the North Queensland Cowboys have ahead of them if either team is to make back-to-back NRL grand final appearances.
Blair played in four grand finals in a row with the Melbourne Storm between 2006-2009 and the 30-year-old was a big part of Brisbane's grand final run in 2015, with the Broncos suffering a 17-16 extra-time loss to North Queensland.
Brisbane will be after revenge come Friday night when they host the Cowboys in a grand final rematch at a near capacity Suncorp Stadium.
Blair said both teams have their work cut out for them if they are to make it to the 2016 decider.
"It's extremely hard to make back-to-back grand finals. Everyone wants to knock you off the top and everyone knows how good you are and what you bring to the table," Blair said.
"No matter whom you play, every game is tough. You're sore after every game and every week is tough. The Cowboys need to expect that.
"You have to put in 100 per cent at training and work harder than you've ever worked before.
"It's about working smarter and doing the little things that got you to a grand final. You do it over and over again. Everything you do needs to be crisp and you must make these little things turn into muscle memory.
"Every team wants to make it the grand final. Beating the Cowboys this week is a stepping-stone to where we want to go over the 26 rounds.
"It's a hard thing to win back-to-back titles. Any team that plays against the Cowboys will go to another level and we will have to do that. It doesn't matter whether it's the teams at the top or at the bottom of the table, everyone will want to beat the Cowboys."
Blair was just 20 years old when he made his first NRL grand final appearance in 2006. He came off the bench in the Storm's 15-8 loss to the Broncos, in what was Brisbane's most recent NRL premiership.
Blair then went on to play in four successive grand finals for the Storm and he admits he took this success at Melbourne for granted at the time.
"I was young at Melbourne and I took a lot of things for granted," he said.
"I didn't realise how hard it is to get to a grand final and how much I enjoyed playing in those big games. Even playing finals footy is something everyone wants to be a part of because it brings the best out of a lot of players."
Blair, now in his eleventh NRL season, says his change in attitude is the reason behind his career resurgence at the Broncos. Ironically, it was an uncharacteristically poor attitude from the team that saw Brisbane give up a 22-6 lead last week to the Penrith Panthers, with the Broncos going on to lose 23-22.
"Last week was a wake-up call. It was our attitude that cost us the game, not our commitment," Blair said.
"We showed what we could in the first half when we played good footy and we should have held onto the lead.
"Everyone knows what the Broncos bring and we can't get away with what we did in the second half last week. We need to win those games."