The Broncos travel to Townsville this Thursday night with plenty on the line, both as a team and for their polarising coach Wayne Bennett.
The latter has been at the centre of an ugly situation where internal rumblings at Brisbane HQ consistently suggest he is unwanted at the club, even with time to run on his contract.
This match shapes as a flashpoint which could decide his fate. A loss against their northern rivals could be the final nail in the coffin as the Brisbane hierarchy look to appoint his successor. A win will keep his critics at bay and perhaps heighten speculation of links to Penrith’s recent coach vacancy.
Reports in the media suggest that Bennett still has the full backing of the Broncos player group and they will understand the gravity of the situation for him and most importantly their own chances, as they aim to play finals football this season.
Fall to the Cowboys this week and the Broncos will be firmly planted on the fringes of the top 8, win and they can breath easier for a while.
Can concede that the Cowboys have their own motivational strength this week following the loss to the Roosters and then being viciously attacked in the media regarding the possibility of sending out their champion halfback Jonathan Thurston with the Wooden Spoon in hand.
However, the JT farewell factor is simply not enough for a Cowboys side who have been poor right across the playing group this season.
The Broncos historically play well after mediocre performances and they certainly had one last week against the lowly Bulldogs, in a loss which surprised all.
The stats this season for a Broncos recovery following a single loss are lethal, with Brisbane bouncing back from a stand alone loss on 5 separate occasions (most recently seen in the Round 18 defeat to the Warriors to come out the following week and put 50 points on the Panthers in Round 19) .
Expect the Broncos pack to be revved right up for this one and Milford and Boyd to shine after the embarrassment of last week's defeat.
Bennett knows stringing two losses together in-a-row to moderate opposition could be the career killer many key internal Broncos decision makers have been waiting to leverage off.
He wont be losing this one.
NRL Betting Tip: Broncos to cover the line -3.5 @ $2.00