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Broncos go out with a bang or whimper

By Wayne Heming 30/08/2010 04:37:07 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane's players will decide if their rollercoaster NRL season ends with a whimper or a bang.

After 18 straight years of finals, which have netted them six premierships, the club's 2010 season hangs on 80 minutes of high pressure football this weekend.

The year started poorly 2-6 but looked promising when the club's youth got them through the best Origin period before it crashed again this month.

Coach Ivan Henjak is hoping it ends with a bang in front of a big Suncorp Stadium crowd on Friday night.

His young troops need to beat an in-form Raiders by 15 points to have a chance of keeping the club's unbeaten record since 1991 going.

They'll have to do it without representative halves Darren Lockyer (rib) and Peter Wallace (shoulder) leaving nervous young replacements Ben Hunt (20) and Corey Norman (18) with a daunting task, few believe possible.

"The players know the equation, they know they have to go out and have a red hot crack," said Henjak, awaiting medical updates on Wallace and hard-running forward Sam Thaiday (sternum and gashed leg).

"It's up to the players and how they want to end their season, whether they want to go out meekly or have a real crack.

"All I can do is try and get another big effort out of them but it's really up to the players."

Chief executive Bruno Cullen, who's been at the Broncos for 20 years since his recruitment by former coach Wayne Bennett, admitted a 15 point win given Brisbane's form would be something special.

"It would be a form reversal of some magnitude, but not impossible," he said following three heavy losses in Lockyer's absence.

Brisbane have hit a wall, they're flat and there's not much gas left with so many of their young players not seasoned for the pressure of finals football.

Henjak's task is to get one more big effort out of his young troops and hope Lockyer makes it back for the finals.

Cullen pointed out Brisbane, who've undergone something of a generational transition this year, were the only side from 2009's top four - which included Melbourne, Parramatta and the Bulldogs - still with a chance of playing finals football.

"Of the last four teams in the competition last year, there's only one left with some breath and that's the Broncos," he said.

Henjak's position was not hanging on Brisbane making the finals for a 19th straight season.

"Ivan has stepped into the hottest boots in rugby league in the last 20 years (Bennett's) and has overseen a team that has ushered in a dozen or more players to the NRL which is unheard of," he said.

"He's done it with his main strike player (Justin Hodges) unable to kick a ball in anger and now, as he struggles to make the semis, he is missing his inspirational captain.

"There's been quite a bit of adversity there but we're not looking at excuses, that's football."

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