For what it is worth, North Queensland co-captain Matt Scott looks forward to a tough grind against Cronulla in Townsville on Monday night.
But fellow Cowboys prop Ashton Sims confirmed long-suffering Sharks fans’ worst fears when he admitted North Queensland would be out to show no mercy to the embattled NRL club.
Everything points to a rout on Monday night with the in-form Cowboys (7th; 12-10 record) needing a big win over dead-last Cronulla to not only seal a top-eight berth but a possible home final.
The Sharks are without 17 regular first graders due to ASADA bans, sackings, retirements and injuries and have been given a record 30.5 points start by one betting agency.
Scott said a repeat of the 64-6 thumping of Wests Tigers earlier this month would boost their percentage and maybe book a home final by finishing as high as either fifth or sixth.
However, the Test prop said the team would benefit most from an arm wrestle ahead of the finals.
“I think a grind is good for us as a team,” he said.
“The Wests Tigers game got us in unfamiliar territory and I think it can get you playing footy that we shouldn’t be playing coming into the end of the year.
“We are preparing for a grind. I hope it is – it is the type of footy we have to play.”
But Sims – who has again kept Test prop James Tamou out of the Cowboys starting side – admitted North Queensland hoped to be at their ruthless best.
“It’s that time of year where you want to finalise your game and sharpen the knife,” he said.
“I know they have had a lot of off field problems but we have a lot to play for.
“We are not going to try and feel our way into the game – we are going to come in all guns blazing.”
Still buzzing from their last round 22-10 away win over high flyers South Sydney, Sims hoped they would produce more of the same on Monday night.
“The blueprint was last week. That’s how we should be playing week in, week out,” he said.
“But as good as that win was we are not getting too ahead of ourselves.
“We are not assured a finals spot at all – that is the fire that is burning in us, especially for this week.
“We are prepared for the Sharkies to come up here, play well and bring a tough mentality.
“They have nothing to lose. They will come up and give us a good honest test.”
“We have to prepare like we are playing a top four side,” he said.