Don’t think for a second that Brisbane City is making the long trip south to Orange’s Endeavour Oval just to give the NSW Country Eagles a tune-up before the National Rugby Championship (NRC) finals, after all, everything’s on the line for the Queensland side too.
While City suffered a shock loss to the Greater Sydney Rams last weekend NSW Country kept its finals hopes alive with a win over Melbourne, the results leaving the two sides deadlocked on competition points and in a do-or-die situation on Saturday.
In short, whichever side wins will feature in the post-season. The loser won’t, and could drop as low as seventh depending on a couple of other results.
But Brisbane and Queensland Reds flanker Michael Gunn says that actually makes his side’s job easier.
The visitors won’t have to worry about complex formulas, bonus points or anything else, their only focus is winning.
“There’s no point over-complicating it in any competition - you just need to win,” Gunn told RUGBY.com.au earlier this week, although if Fiji loses there’s a chance Saturday’s winner could shoot to third.
“The best thing we can do is win with a bonus point and it’ll pan out how it pans out over the rest of the weekend.
“The Eagles obviously play a lot of running footy, and they have done for a few years.
“But, honestly, we’re going to have to look at ourselves after the weekend, and the focus will have to be on how we play.
"There will be ways we can exploit them, but the focus will be on how we play, and I just reckon that’s a better mentality to have going into the weekend.”
Gunn has been one of Brisbane City’s best in the 2017 edition of the NRC, in fact he’s had a bumper year in general after being awarded the Alec Evans Medal for Queensland Premier Rugby player of the year last week.
“In the last half of last season I sort of wasn’t able to string too many games together … I just hadn’t played enough footy to make an impact (in the NRC),” Gunn said of his 2016 season.
“This year I played 13 out of 16 games for Easts here in Brisbane, and I’ve played all but two half games in the NRC.
“I feel like I’m playing well. At club level, I’ve just had that many minutes that it’s just coming naturally.
“I do feel like I’ve hit my stride in the last month.”
Plenty of that has to do with the “masterclasses” he’s enjoyed with Reds and Wallabies legend George Smith, he’ll look to put what he’s learned there into practice again at Endeavour Oval on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s awesome, it’s really good … he’s such a good resource for us,” Gunn said.
This weekend’s clash kicks off at 1pm.