Coaches key to Queensland clubs' success
They have two of the most complete rosters in the Telstra Premiership but former Broncos and Cowboys legend Brent Tate believes it is the respective coaches who hold the key to their success.
Ahead of their grand final rematch at Suncorp Stadium on Good Friday, the Cowboys and Broncos are both giving every indication that they will again be two of the teams fighting for a grand final berth when September rolls around.
For the fifth successive top class game Cowboys coach Paul Green has named the same 17 that triumphed over Brisbane 17-16 in last year's decider while Broncos mentor Wayne Bennett has had to make regular changes based purely on injuries.
Writing in this week's issue of Big League, Tate says it is this stability provided by the two coaches that help them to get the best out of their players.
"The Cowboys and Broncos are great clubs and I've been lucky enough to play with both," Tate says in the Round 4 issue of Big League.
"Brisbane was the most professional club I ever played for and they continue to succeed on and off the field but the Cowboys have come a long way in their 21-year history.
"These teams have some of the best players in the world, but they also have some outstanding coaches. Paul Green learnt his trade under Wayne Bennett and it's been great to see similarities in their coaching.
"Green has adopted Bennett's tactic of making players feel comfortable in their positions. They aren't constantly looking over their shoulders and wondering if they're going to retain their place in the side, because these coaches have great communication with their players which has led to success on the field."
Friday's blockbuster will be the 44th meeting between the two Queensland rivals with big brother Brisbane boasting a record of 29 wins and two draws from the 43 clashes to date.
While other rivalries in the NRL thrive on an undercurrent of hatred, Tate – who played 114 matches for the Broncos and 67 for the Cowboys – says that there is next to no animosity between the Broncos and Cowboys.
"These two sides love to face each other in what has become the healthiest rivalry in the competition," says Tate.
"It's unlike any other – it's not based on hatred, but on respect for the clubs and the players on the field. It brings the best out of players when they run out for the derby, as they know they're important games.
"The all-Queensland clash was one of the greatest grand finals in NRL history, so I expect these two sides to be involved in future classic matches.
"The Broncos were just seconds away from the title and while they've moved on from the heartbreaking finish to last year there will still be some hurt there.
"When I played, I would want to move on quickly after a tough loss.
"It's a new year and they'll want to put the defeat behind them – but it will still serve as motivation for Friday's match, even if they deny it."
The Round 4 issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents and at the ground. The Digital version is available through Zinio.