By Michael Morgan, captain of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys
EVER since my first Queensland Derby, I have known the importance of this clash.
It is always our biggest game of the year to play at home, and usually in front of our biggest crowd.
It is a shame this will be on a Thursday night making it hard for some of our fans to travel in, but I am still hopeful the crowd will turn out for the big game.
There is always a bigger build up around this game, and in club footy some games are bigger than others and this is one that always lives up to the hype.
My first derby was in the semi-finals in 2012, Petero Civoniceva’s last game in the NRL. It was a crazy build up for that game and you could feel the emotion of it all.
It is the same with most of the derby clashes. There just seems to be more than two points on the line. When you’re in the sheds, you can hear the crowd getting louder and louder.
It seems a bit tense walking down the tunnel, but once you are on the field and you make that first play or get your first touch it washes away. All your focus turns to the game, you are wired into what you are doing and the crowd and the outside noise becomes a bit of a blur.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t hear it, or feel the energy.
Every stoppage in play you soak it all up. Every time we make half a break, or a big hit, or even deserve a penalty you can hear the whole crowd behind you.
This game also takes on extra importance because of where we are on the ladder. Without looking too far ahead every game for us is important now.
That was not helped by our effort against the Tigers last week. I did feel a bit rusty in that game, it is hard when you have a few weeks off the field and your training is reduced due to the injury.
You lose all your timing, and given it was the first time I had properly played with a few of the guys including Scotty Drinkwater and Shane Wright, it was just a bit out of sync.
But I got the injured bib off at training this week and I couldn’t be happier. I hate wearing that bib.
A few of the boys also reminded me I had it off this week which was good. These games against the Broncos are always physical games and you want to prepare the best way for the game.
Thumper hit me a few times, he is always looking to throw his body around, while Josh McGuire never misses a chance to get into a half. It was a great way to get into it, now I will be ready for whatever the Broncos big boys throw at me.
This article first appeared in the Townsville Bulletin.