Finals no problem for baby Broncos - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Finals no problem for baby Broncos

By Laine Clark and Wayne Heming 15/09/2011 02:30:29 PM Comments (0)

Stage fright won't be a problem for a young Broncos side in what looms as one of the great NRL finals after Darren Lockyer's swansong year provided a "few dress rehearsals".

It has already been an emotional ride for Lockyer's Broncos but it seems nothing has prepared them for what lies ahead at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Either Lockyer's NRL career will be killed off or former mentor Wayne Bennett's Dragons tenure will abruptly end in an NRL finals clash that has the makings of a classic.

It's enough to make the Broncos' seven finals rookies do their best "roo in the headlights" impression.

But Lockyer believes his band of youngsters have faced tests of a similar scale this year - and they passed with flying colours.

He compared the upcoming finals match with his record-breaking 350th NRL game last month as well as his Suncorp Stadium "farewell" against Manly barely two weeks ago - both comfortable Brisbane wins.

And the Broncos showed no signs of choking when they thumped New Zealand Warriors 40-10 in the opening NRL final last weekend.

But Lockyer was not taking anything for granted ahead of his 355th - and possibly last - NRL game.

"We had a few dress rehearsals for the finals with the hype around the Manly game and my 350th game and it was a good experience for those (young) guys," Lockyer told AAP.

"They've handled their first test (against the Warriors) really well with their preparation and their intensity.

"What's important now is we get back to the hard work and not think we're world beaters after one good performance."

But what a performance - even Lockyer couldn't hide his admiration for their 30-point thumping of the Warriors without Sam Thaiday (suspension) and Josh Hoffman (knee).

Especially with Gerard Beale, Dale Copley, Jack Reed, Josh McGuire, Matt Gillett, Ben Hunt and David Hala all tasting finals action for the first time.

"There's a good vibe in the place. What I found really positive was even after this disappointment of Josh's injury and Sam's suspension we just got on with the job," Lockyer said.

"The boys were just enjoying what they were doing and I'm sure they'll enjoy the preparation going into this game.

"(But) if you don't back up, it could all end very quickly."

Broncos great Shane Webcke admitted he would have been nervous before such a big game if he was in a side with so many finals rookies.

But the ex-Test prop - given a fairytale farewell in 2006 by Brisbane - did not rule out the Broncos doing the same for Lockyer.

"If I was in that side today you'd be wondering, with so many young guys, if the wheels might fall off a bit," he told AAP.

"It's a testament to the club, to Hook (Broncos coach Anthony Griffin) and Lockyer that that doesn't appear to be happening.

"I think we're going to go very close but we're really getting to the tough stuff now."

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