Don't write us off: Thaiday
The struggling Brisbane Broncos have a message for the rest of the competition – write us off at your own peril.
Wayne Bennett's men have gone from premiership favourites to competition easy beats in a matter of weeks after a string of disappointing performances – most recently Friday night's 31-12 hammering at the hands of Penrith.
It's the time of the year where most contenders are coming into form, with the likes of the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canberra Raiders putting their best foot forward as finals football approaches.
The Broncos meanwhile appear to be going in the opposite direction, losing three of their last four matches.
But Brisbane second-row forward Sam Thaiday says it would be a mistake for opposition sides to underestimate the Broncos, and the 31-year-old expects his team to lift in the coming weeks.
"Don't put the red line through us yet. Our form is disappointing but it's not the end of the world," Thaiday said.
"If we can stay in the top eight then I'm sure that we can be a threat come finals time.
"We want people to think we aren't playing well and to underestimate us, and we might be that dark horse in the semi-finals that can cause some damage.
"We just have to make sure that we are improving every week.
"We have been off our usual standard, and as a side we can't dwell on that because we need to move forward."
The Broncos will travel to Allianz Stadium on Thursday night to face a much-improved Sydney Roosters outfit.
It will be a huge test for Brisbane, with forwards Josh McGuire and Thaiday facing suspensions for ill-discipline against the Panthers.
The Broncos' squad has already been pushed to the limits, with the likes of Jordan Kahu, Jack Reed, Matt Gillett and Kodi Nikorima missing because of injury.
The six-day turnaround to face the Roosters will grant Brisbane little respite, but Thaiday said it would do their young side some good.
"The short turnaround is really good for the younger guys because it doesn't give them a chance to focus on the loss against Penrith," he said.
"We're back into training on Monday and we'll get over it.
"It's time to get stuck in and focus on what we need to do against the Roosters."
It's the first time the Broncos have faced the Roosters since their 2015 preliminary final.
Brisbane won that game 31-12, and the Roosters will be out for revenge as they try and disrupt the finals preparations of those sides still in the hunt.
The Tricolours have struggled all season, recording just three wins, but they will be sure to come out firing against a Broncos side that must win to stay in touch with the top four.