The finals formula is pretty simple for North Queensland ahead what looms as another epic NRL showdown with arch-rival Brisbane on Thursday night – win and you’re in.
However, the Cowboys claim they’ve had their eyes on Parramatta’s blueprint for success against the third-placed Broncos, rather than the NRL ladder.
North Queensland can clinch a seventh-straight finals appearance and finish as high as fifth with victory in the final round clash in Townsville.
Lose and they must sweat on other results over what would be an anxious weekend to scrape into the eight.
“You know what, we honestly haven’t spoken about it – it’s a game, we have to win it,” Cowboys assistant David Fairleigh said.
“To be honest I haven’t even looked at the ladder, I just know we are down near eighth.
“It doesn’t matter how other games go, we’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do.
“We haven’t spoken about ‘if we win we’ll finish wherever’, we’ve just got to get out there and compete.”
Brisbane may be already assured a top-four finish but the desperate Cowboys were given a timely cheat sheet on how to dismantle them thanks to the Eels’ stunning 52-34 rout at Suncorp Stadium last week.
“We are a different team to Parramatta but one thing they did well was they turned up to play,” Fairleigh said.
“What got them in that situation was they were very physical to start with, they upset Brisbane’s rhythm with the way they moved off the line.
“Things didn’t click for Brisbane on the night but we know that can turn around very quickly.
“I am sure we won’t see that Brisbane team tomorrow night.”
Fairleigh also hoped he didn’t see the same Cowboys team as last week despite notching a morale-boosting last round win over Wests Tigers.
While the victory snapped a four game losing run to keep them in the finals mix, Fairleigh said the Cowboys could not repeat their slow start.
“We were lucky enough to have some quality players get us home in the end but Brisbane won’t give us that opportunity,” Fairleigh said.
“We’ve got to play better, that is the bottom line.”
But motivation won’t be an issue ahead of what is expected to be another epic showdown against Brisbane.
Four of the past five derbies have been decided by one point and in extra-time.
“It’s a big game, a big occasion,” Fairleigh said.
“The two teams bring the best out of each other.
“And despite what happened to them last week and our own situation I am sure it will be a quality game tomorrow.”
Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote (ankle) was cleared after training strongly on Wednesday.
STATS THAT MATTER
* North Queensland have won the last five games against Brisbane in Townsville.
* North Queensland are chasing four straight overall wins over Brisbane for the first time in club history.
* Brisbane have won three of their past four matches as the away team.