THE Brisbane Broncos have been so consistent under master coach Wayne Bennett this year that forward Sam Thaiday is still waiting for that big test which will cement his team as premiership material.
Bennett's team is in outright first place on 32 competition points going into this Friday's southern Queensland derby against the Titans at Suncorp Stadium.
Many in the Queensland capital believe this year's outfit is the real deal.
But what the players really want, according to Maroons and Kangaroos star Thaiday, is a knife-edge moment over the next seven rounds leading into the finals.
Thaiday happily recalls the last time this happened to Brisbane during its last premiership-winning year of 2006 - and it didn't arrive until that year's preliminary final against Canterbury.
But after the team overcame a 20-6 half-time deficit, the general feeling in the dressing-room was the side would then be unbeatable in the grand final.
"It wasn't until we played the Bulldogs in the preliminary final," the 30-year-old veteran told APN.
"We were down at half-time and we came out in the second half and we did a job (winning 37-20).
"That was the turning point, when we knew we were in the grand final and we weren't going to lose it after that.
"There hasn't been something you can put your finger on this year and say 'that's a turning point - we are going to win a grand final'.
"But I think we're certainly setting things in place, and even watching the win (42-16 against the Tigers) on the weekend on tape, there's still plenty of room for improvement."
Brisbane could well receive its major test which Thaiday is looking for over the next seven games, with big fixtures to come against top-six teams the Bulldogs, Roosters, Rabbitohs and Storm.
But will this major test even come at all?
Because under Bennett in his return to the Broncos this year, Thaiday has barely seen his team drop its intensity as the season has dragged on.
"That's the sign of a good team, one which can maintain that intensity on the field and on the training paddock," Thaiday said.
"That's probably somewhere we have fallen off in the past - being in games for half a game or 20 minutes, but that's another one of those little improvements (under Bennett)."
Despite halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford combining so well against the Tigers, Broncos lock Corey Parker scoffed at suggestions the Broncos are now the competition's entertainers.
"Oh, I don't know about that (the 'entertainers' tag)," he said.
"But from round one to where we've come to we'd like to think there's been some good combinations built over the 20 rounds.
"I remember it was the same group of guys - you guys (the media) were here criticising our attack in round two and it's a bit different now."
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