The North Queensland Cowboys will head south with the sting of last week's 18-0 loss to other fellow Queenslanders' the Gold Coast Titans still fresh in their minds while the Broncos will be high on confidence after their grinding 18 to 6 victory over Parramatta.
The Cowboys were held scoreless last weekend by the Titans for the first time since round 23 in 2006 and for the first time at home since 2003. The Cowboys fumbled their way through 80 minutes of football to finish the game with the dubious honour of the worst completion rate ever recorded, at least since the NRL began keeping such stats. But the Cowboys are a proud bunch and you wouldn't expect them to repeat that effort this week, particularly with the fiercely competitive and precociously talented Jonathan Thurston at the helm, who labelled the performance the worst in the history of the club.
The Broncos have made it clear they intend to build their season upon a rock solid defensive line. Broncos flame haired half-back Peter Wallace said the Broncos wanted to claim the mantle of the best defensive team in the NRL, after finishing fourth for points conceded last year. "It's no secret that the best defensive team in the comp generally goes close to winning it or wins it," Wallace said.
It seems they are capable of doing just that with Brisbane the only club not to concede a line break during round 1 and only missing a miserly 13 tackles against Parramatta, the least of all clubs. However, the yellow brick wall of Bronco defenders will be sorely tested this week if Jonathan Thurston and his fleet footed friend Matt Bowen manage to find their mojo and hold on to the football.
In a huge boost for the Broncos, representative stalwart and club legend, Petero Civoniceva returns to the Broncos line-up via the bench for the first time since 2006. Coach Anthony Griffin wants to ease him back in to the rigours of NRL football after Civioniceva only played one pre-season trial game and has missed a large chunk of football due to a pectoral injury.
The Cowboys have left out prized off-season recruit Robert Lui who has been sent to the Queensland Cup to play for the Northern Pride to gain some match fitness. Former Bronco Brent Tate has been named in an extended 19 man squad but doubt still lingers as to whether he will play as he tries to shake off a painful rib injury.
The other Friday night game promises to be a bell ringer as well with competition favourites Wests Tigers taking on last year's champs, the Manly Sea Eagles. Sadly, for old school rugby league fans there will be no rematch of the infamous 2011 'Battle of Brookvale' between Adam Blair and Glenn Stewart. In a huge blow for Manly, Stewart will miss 6 weeks following surgery on the finger injury he sustained on the weekend. Steve Matai has also been scratched for 6 weeks after breaking his thumb against the Warriors. He has been replaced by Dean Whare.
Adam Schoenmaker is a high school chaplain in the northern suburbs of Brisbane for three days each week and serves two days a week in his local church. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
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