7 hours ago
Broncos out to storm Titans' Temple
Brisbane will use the buzz of playing at the Gold Coast's new Skilled Park fortress, christened the "Temple of Doom", to topple the Titans on Friday night.
"It will be like a semi-final," said Brisbane assistant coach Ivan Henjak after representative centre Justin Hodges was cleared to play in the local derby which is set to pull the biggest crowd to a rugby league game on the Gold Coast.
Brisbane have been forced to play sides who've come to Brisbane on an adrenaline high knowing they were playing in front of a huge Suncorp Stadium crowd on a ground that is revered around the world.
It's often lifted teams to super human efforts against the Broncos who will use the same psyche at Skilled Park.
Toss in the fact the Coast feel slighted by being looked upon as "inferior", and Henjak's expectations of a semi-final like battle could well be right.
"It'll be a little different for us because Suncorp Stadium is such a great venue for opposing teams to come to and they always get up to play us," said Henjak.
"This time we've got that little air of excitement about going down to their stadium which could work in our favour.
"Playing them down there, on their home turf ... it'll be their first game down there against us and with a capacity crowd the atmosphere will be enormous.
"I think the players are looking forward to performing in that arena. They've seen it on TV and they've heard reports about it and I think they're genuinely excited."
Both sides have been forced to make key changes with David Stagg again filling in at five-eighth for champion playmaker Darren Lockyer and the Titans swinging their utility Ashley Harrison into the same position after losing Mat Rogers to a four-game dangerous throw suspension.
The crowd record of 22,688 between the two clubs at Carrara in 1994 should be surpassed, while the record for a rugby league game on the Coast of 26,974 against Canberra will also likely fall on Friday night.
The last time the Broncos played the Gold Coast, then known as the Chargers, on the Coast was early in 1998 when they romped home 40-18 in front of 13,126.
Titans coach John Cartwright, who played in many big games for Penrith, NSW and Australia, said he could feel the sense of occasion about the local derby clash.
"You can sense a buzz in the air," he said after training on Thursday.
"The media have been drumming it up and the people in the street are talking about it."
With both teams sitting on top of the ladder the outcome of Friday night's game is not as important as the "feel good" the winners will walk with.
The Broncos already have six premierships and a list of Origin and Test players as long as the motorway from Brisbane to the Gold Coast.
A Titans victory Brisbane to keep their unbeaten home record intact would be very sweet.