MASTER coach Wayne Bennett has displayed unusual public confidence in Brisbane's chances of advancing to Sunday week's NRL grand final with a victory over the Roosters at a packed Suncorp Stadium tonight.
Bennett, who usually would keep his cards close to his chest before big games, spoke confidently of his side's ability to win tight matches, even though the Roosters emerged 12-10 winners from their last clash in round 24.
"If we stick to what we know and there's only a few points in the game with 10 to 15 minutes to go, I know which side I want to be on," the seven-time premiership-winning coach said.
"We're definitely an 80-minute team, there's no doubt about it, and you only have to see how we finish over teams late in the game."
Bennett reportedly walked into Brisbane's dressing room after the loss to the Roosters last month and told each of his players how proud he was of their performances.
"Sometimes you win when you lose," said Bennett, who pinpointed that match as a major turning point in Brisbane's season.
Yesterday, record-setting State of Origin coach and three-time grand final winner Mal Meninga said he believed Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce would handle the intensity and hostility of a 50,000-strong pro-Broncos crowd if he returned from a hamstring injury tonight.
Pearce, 0-6 in Origin games against Queensland at Suncorp Stadium, was part of the New South Wales team that copped a record 52-6 flogging in game three of this year's interstate series.
"This is a huge game ... but it is club footy," Meninga said.
"I don't think Mitchell is vulnerable, he's steered the Roosters to a premiership win. I doubt he will be overawed by it."
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