Broncos at the double for battle with Manly
WAYNE Bennett is expecting Suncorp Stadium to "go off" with tonight's NRL double-header featuring three of the top four sides in the competition expected to generate a State of Origin-style atmosphere.
Bennett's Broncos play the second game on the card against Manly while the epic program opens up with Melbourne Storm up against the high-flying North Queensland Cowboys.
"The public have bought into it, it's a sell-out and when you think about it the quality of the games will be wonderful and maybe prompt the league into doing a bit more of it," said Bennett, who'll occupy the visitor's dressing room tonight with Manly the host side.
"It will be predominantly Bronco supporters but everyone I've spoken to about it is excited about the four top teams (three in the top eight) playing."
Bennett said the club's poor first-half performance against Cronulla was something that had to be rectified against Manly, which arrived in Brisbane on Thursday without gun players Brett Stewart and Steve Matai, who are both injured.
"We've got some players missing as well," Bennett said.
Kiwi international Adam Blair (suspended), Andrew McCullough (hamstring) and Alex Glenn (calf) will miss the clash.
"We have some players out so we can't be worried about who they've got playing for them," Bennett said. "They'll be wearing a Manly jersey and that's all that matters."
Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans said he was looking forward to his battle with Brisbane No.7 Ben Hunt as he searched for more consistency in his game.
"I enjoy those battles and he is playing very well," he said.
"Before the bye I played JT (Johnathan Thurston) and Michael Morgan and they are the reigning champions and they are playing outstanding footy.
"We feel short as a side and, individually, I wasn't up to it but I get another challenge this week to play against arguably the two best young halves in Queensland (Hunt and Anthony Milford)."
Cherry-Evans conceded a Manly win would be an upset, but he said they had nothing to lose against Brisbane.
"It would be an upset but we've had a great week of preparation," said the halfback, who could again get booed onto Suncorp Stadium by fans who remember his back-flip on the Titans last year, a subject he didn't want to talk about.
"I really don't want to bring all that up, it's just bringing up old rubbish," he said at a fan night at Brisbane's Gibson Park attended by about 1000 people.
All eyes will be on young Bronco Jai Arrow, who will make his debut off the bench in front of 50,000. Teammates Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday have talked up the young forward, who clocked up 50 tackles and made 165 metres for Queensland Residents last weekend.