The bond driving Broncos in today's Grand Final
BRONCOS NRLW coach Paul Dyer this week questioned whether sometimes the hype around grand final preparation can be overrated.
"At the end of the day you prepare as best you can, train as best you can and it's anyone's game," he said at Friday's official NRLW grand final press conference.
Today, when the Broncos and Roosters run onto the turf at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, they will fight for the chance to be crowned the first women's NRL premiership winners.
And yes, the best team will win on the day, no matter how well the opposition side has prepared.
But, after being given exclusive behind-the-scenes access to Brisbane's camp in Sydney this week, The Sunday Mail can reveal the one area Dyer and his Broncos squad do not consider to be "overrated" - the emphasis on team unity.
The preparation for today's grand final started last Friday, immediately after Brisbane cemented their spot in the decider with a victory over the Warriors in Melbourne.
Fullback Chelsea Baker said they flew home that night but did not arrive until after midnight and so the majority of the 22-player squad decided to have a sleepover at the team's Red Hill base.
"It was actually a lot of fun," she said.
"It was like your sleepovers at school with all the mattresses on the floor. The funny thing was most of us were exhausted so we pretty much just fell asleep.
"We found out we had a few snorers, so that was fun. Maitua (Feterika) is a bit of a snorer.
"It was something different for us to do and then we were up nice and early the next day for recovery and ice baths."
It may seem trivial, but the sleepover was the start of a big week for the tight-knit group.
The team have only been together for two months but their bond is immediately obvious on the field.
Ahead of their Round 2 meeting with the Roosters, the Broncos were suffering from a number of setbacks.
Veteran forward Steph Hancock and centre Amber Pilley both had the flu while backs Meg Ward and Baker were hit with a bout of food poisoning just hours out from kick-off - but they still managed to win.
It's not something any of the players had revealed before today, but Hancock said it sums up why the team is as close as they are.
"I don't think we really thought about our health when we ran onto the field," Hancock said.
"I know during the game I thought I was going to have to get (assistant coach) Mick Hancock to come give me CPR but you just push through it.
"It was amazing how some of the girls weren't feeling the best but to get that result, that's just how they are. That's what you love about them.
"There's been no dramas at all and everyone gets along. The team environment and the way everyone gets along, it's something very Queensland-like. That's why I love it so much."
And continuing that "Queensland-like" bond was the biggest focus this week.
From the sleepover, the team then went into Tuesday training, the Dally M Awards on Wednesday and the full squad arrival in Sydney plus training, a massive fan day and the grand final dinner on Thursday.
Friday saw them discover the city together before they turned on their game faces for captain's run yesterday.
Broncos supercoach Wayne Bennett's biggest piece of advice to Dyer this week was to keep the players busy.
And they have done that together.
Skipper Ali Brigginshaw said it was something completely new to most of the team, but it was the part she was enjoying the most.
"I'm appreciating everything we get," she said.
"The grand final dinners, the media, the Dally Ms, we're just appreciating it. It is real now and this is the life that we live. We're semi-professionals.
"We have girls that have just started playing and girls that have played for 10 years. Seeing those girls get the opportunity to play on grand final day is something that is really exciting.
"You just see the look in their eyes when we have to get dressed up and go to these dinners. They're like, 'how amazing is this'. Some girls had never been to anything like a fan day."
The Broncos will be tested in a big way today by the rejuvenated and hungry Roosters.
But, if the last three weeks of competition has shown anything, it is that Brisbane's players will deliver for each other time and time again.
And while grand final week preparation may be overrated, they have certainly done everything they can to keep strengthening their team unit.
"We fangirl each other … we're just a big, fun family," Baker said.