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'Hiding' from Storm saved our season: Isaako

Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako has pinpointed the round 20 thrashing by the Storm as a catalyst for getting back to playing the football that has Brisbane on the cusp of a finals campaign that seemed like a distant dream just two months ago.

Since the 40-4 loss to the Storm the Broncos have won three games and lost narrowly to South Sydney to now sit inside the top eight. A win over the Bulldogs on Saturday night will assure seventh-placed Brisbane of a finals berth.

Isaako said his defensive clout had improved in combination with right centre Kotoni Staggs since learning some hard lessons in the Storm loss.

"The game against the Storm we got a bit of a hiding here at home and had a big talk the following Monday about getting back to enjoying our footy," Isaako said.

"It certainly helped us in terms of what we need to fix, especially me and Kotoni on the edges in having that defensive mindset of when to jam and when not to jam.

"Some of the boys were trying to do things that we didn’t practice at training and we’d gone away from our game plans.

McCullough: Boyd keeps turning up

"We know we haven’t been in prime position on the ladder but the boys have been working really hard to sustain our spot in the top eight and working our way towards the finals.

"We’ve had the whole year to play with each other and now we are towards the end of the season everyone has got a feel for how everyone plays and got confidence out of what everyone is capable of."

The Broncos have gotten used to playing in a pressure cooker environment for the past nine games. After the round 15 loss to the Knights they knew they could only afford to lose two games to make the finals.  

In that nine-week block they have won six, drawn one and lost two to pick up 13 points, a record only bettered by the Roosters and Storm in that period.

The likes of Isaako, Staggs, Matt Lodge and David Fifita have only played one finals game while Payne Haas, Pat Carrigan and Thomas Flegler are yet to taste finals football.

Veteran Andrew McCullough said that lack of experience should not be an issue if those players continued to play with the same spirit and attitude they had been displaying.

"As a young guy you are carefree. You just go in there and play football," McCullough said.

"You don't know what the process of finals is like, you just get out there and play footy and that is what we need from these boys.

Fifita does it again

“They  don't need to do anything different or special. It's another game of football. Why change something that is working well? But they need to fix up areas of their game which Seibs [coach Anthony Seibold] is working with them on.”

Fifita and Haas have been match-winners for the Broncos in several of their recent wins and McCullough said they had both reaped the rewards of sticking to what they do best.

"Potentially they can do whatever they want really,” McCullough said.

“They have come in with a lot of expectations but they have kept it pretty simple and they are some big strong boys, but we have to play with a bit of smarts now when it comes to finals games. They are tight games so we have to make sure we nail everything right.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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