Players ready as Brisbane battle brews

Published 2:30pm 21 March 2023

Players ready as Brisbane battle brews
Words by Kylie Knight

Dolphins’ NRL prop Mark Nicholls says the squad is ready to face their cross-town rivals, the Brisbane Broncos, at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night in the blockbuster Battle of Brisbane which has everyone talking.

He’s even got a post-try celebration planned to better that of Bronco Reece Walsh, who attempted to stake his claim on the hallowed turf during his side’s win over the Dragons last weekend.

“I’ve done a pretty good bus driving impersonation when I score a try. Maybe I might bring that out,” Nicholls said smiling.

|“Suncorp, 50,000 people … as a footy player, it’s something that you dream of. We’re excited … Friday night, under lights. The whole town’s talking about it.|

Bennett spoke with the playing group at length at the end of this morning’s training session, but Nicholls was coy when asked what the message was from the Super Coach.

“I think he was happy with how we trained. I’ve been coached by Wayne a long time now and a lot of those talks are about life lessons, not so much about footy. He was just imparting his wisdom on the boys,” Nicholls said.

“He’s kept it pretty low-key so far this week because on the weekend the game’s going to get the players up. He was just happy we turned up today and trained well, we’ll train well again on Thursday … we’ve got 80 minutes to show what we’ve got on Friday night.”

Despite the low-key approach, Nicholls said it was impossible to ignore the hype about the game.

“That’s why there was a second Brisbane team that came in. The appetite’s here, people love their footy up here. From the day that I’ve got up here, the Redcliffe community have been really excited to have a team in their backyard. From Christmas, all I saw was Dolphins’ hats and Dolphins’ jerseys everywhere.

“For a fan, how exciting is Friday night going to be? As a player, it’s one you want to play.”

See the team list here

Players ready as Brisbane battle brews

It’s a long season

The experienced player, with more than 130 NRL games under his belt, knows the season is young and there’s a long way to go.

|“It is just another game, at the end of the day, it’s round four … there’s still another 20 something weeks to go after this week. It’s not do or die,” he said.|

“It’s not a semi-final but from the time the draw was announced we knew we were playing Brisbane … whether we had lost all our games or they lost all their games, it was always going to be a big game. Both teams are going to want to win.”

Nicholls said the passion of fans made games like this one special.

“They go to the game excited and off the back of that the players feel that,” he said.

“There’s going to be big moments. Hopefully as a team, we’re the ones winning those big moments. They go a long way to winning a game of footy at the end of the day.”

Players ready as Brisbane battle brews

Hammer time

Fan-favourite and the bloke who has created many special moments already this season, The Hammer – Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, has also impressed his teammate.

|“He’s quick, but I’ve been really impressed with him defensively … how he’s organised the line with his talk,” Nicholls said.|

“He’s a pretty quiet guy away from the field and as a fullback you need your fullback to talk and you need him to be confident to tell the forwards where to go and organise the line. I’ve been really impressed with that part of his game.”

So, how is the squad feeling after three wins from three games?

“We’re confident. We’ve won at home here, home at Suncorp and away but we’ve also come from behind. We played some patchy footy on the weekend but we were still able to get the job done,” Nicholls said.

“Obviously that first game was probably our best performance of the year … at the moment, we’re ticking all the boxes. Friday is a bigger challenge than we’ve had, so we’ve ripped into training the last two days which has been good. It’s a good feeling around the club at the moment. Everyone’s looking forward to Friday.”

The Dolphins take on the Brisbane Broncos on Friday (7.05pm kick off) at Suncorp Stadium. The game is sold out (general admission) but will be broadcast on Channel 9.

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