THE North Queensland Cowboys must beat the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday to guarantee their place in the NRL finals.
Despite the Cowboys’ gutsy win over the Wests Tigers on Friday night, other results from the weekend mean their position in the final eight is not guaranteed.
A win over the Broncos would move them to 32 points on the ladder and nail down a final berth. However, a loss would see them needing other results to go their way to make the finals.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys CEO Greg Tonner said the clash against the Broncos was always the most anticipated of the season.
“The Queensland derby is one of our biggest games and has been the No.1 contest in our sport in recent history,” he said.
Despite being scheduled for the unpopular Thursday night timeslot, Mr Tonner said it was still the biggest game of the season, and all of Australia would be tuning in and a huge crowd expected at 1300SMILES Stadium.
“We want to show the nation the passion we have in the North,” he said.
This year’s event will include a formal farewell for retiring player Ray Thompson and a “flag frenzy” consisting of giveaways for all spectators coming through the gates.
This year’s Toyota Star Maker Rachel Fahim, from Sydney, will perform at the game.
“We’d love to see the stadium sold out to show the boys we’re there behind them,” Mr Tonner said. “They’ve played with such heart these past few weeks and now more than ever they need our support and to hear the deafening chant of a vocal home crowd.”
Broncos supporter Marty Vucetic said although he would love for the Broncos to thump the Cowboys, history has shown the matches to always be close.
“Even with a depleted side, the Cowboys will be hard to beat,” he said.
Cowboys supporter Craig Hannay said he was also expecting a very close match.
“We are getting some very experienced players who will add great expertise to an already strong … team,” he said.
There are still around 4000 tickets available both in the stands and general admission.