Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin. Photo: Adam McLean
Anthony Griffin, for whom rugby league sits marginally ahead of horse racing in the sporting hierarchy, used a term from the second to reference the first as he spoke of the gravity of Brisbane's final round death-match against Penrith.
''Everyone's training well. You can look good in the yard but you've got to get out and run,'' he said as the Broncos completed what could be their final gallop of this year at Red Hill.
Even with a six-game losing streak in their form guide heading into a date with a side that has little to lose at Suncorp Stadium, Griffin's confidence in Brisbane's ability hasn't stuttered. And a man known for his sparsity of words has been happy to talk this one up.
Journey almost over … Petero Civoniceva. Photo: Getty Images
The usual hat about this being just another game was worn for a fleeting moment before being hung on the rack. It's clear to anyone that with Petero Civoniceva on the verge of retirement and the Broncos one loss away from missing the finals, this is anything but a regulation bout.
Coaches can go either way when grooming their players for a contest of significance. They can either treat the contest with emotional neutrality, or use the occasion as fuel for the fire. On this occasion, Griffin said the finals weren't a week away for Brisbane. They had already started.
''Our final is tomorrow night. We're in the final. It's about getting past Penrith. If we don't do that, we're finished. We're not looking for the finals. We're already in them,'' Griffin said yesterday.
Losing six games in succession isn't straight out of the coaching manual when it comes to preparing for a match that could well define your season. Even so, Griffin has found enough patches of goodness in the string of defeats to not only fancy Brisbane's chances against Penrith but to suggest they could be a major player in the post-season.
After some positional swapsies as he tried to reboot a campaign that just over a month ago seemed destined for a top-four finish, Griffin has returned to mainstream programming and will turn out the strongest Broncos side at his disposal.
Corey Norman returns to five-eighth to partner Peter Wallace in the halves, sending Josh Hoffman back to his preferred role at fullback. A traditional pre-game injury scare to Justin Hodges proved just that and he will take his place in the centres against Origin foe Michael Jennings.
Tonight is all about making the numbers work for the Broncos but Griffin insists they won't be making up the numbers should they win and finish seventh.
''I think we can [be a force]. I believe we can. It's just about staying alive. If you win two or three games, you're down to the last four. Anyone is a chance then,'' Griffin said. ''We're on an upward spiral, I feel, at the moment in our form and our injuries. If we can get through tomorrow night, I think we're a really good chance.
''We've got enough there to be a threat in the finals. I don't mean a threat as in nuisance value. If we do the job on Friday night, I think we're a good a chance as anyone in that bottom four. There's plenty of belief in this team. We haven't been getting the scoreboard right in the last few weeks but we've been getting a lot of things right.''
Grand farewells are nothing new for the Broncos. Darren Lockyer's carnivale lasted almost the entire season last year and while Civoniceva isn't quite in that rarefied air, he finishes his career as one of the game's great forwards.
That alone should be enough incentive for Brisbane to ensure he doesn't end his decorated run with a regular-season home loss, although Griffin said his veteran prop was typically having little of the limelight. ''They [players] all know … you'd have to be living on the North Pole if you didn't know. They all understand,'' Griffin said.