TIPPED as premiership contenders at the start of the season, the Cowboys' season will go on the line in tomorrow night's Queensland derby against the Broncos in Townsville.
The north Queenslanders are languishing in 13th place, with just six wins, needing to win at least six of the next seven to have a shot at playing finals footy.
The situation is just as dire for the Broncos. They are one position above the Cowboys, but also have just six wins.
Brisbane back-rower David Stagg said the stakes would ensure the derby was as hard-fought as usual.
"I can't think of too many games against the Cowboys that haven't been close," he said. "There'll be a good crowd and a fair bit of hype about it all.
"We're both in the same position where we need to come away with a result. It'll be a good clash - the front row that they've got speaks for itself."
Stagg said despite the possibility Brisbane would miss the finals for just the second time in the club's history, morale at Red Hill was still high.
He also said the team had been playing better than their results reflected.
"It's pretty well documented we're going through a bit of a tough patch at the moment, but our spirits are pretty high," he said.
"Over the last six to eight weeks with the Origin guys out, we've been a little bit up and down - it's good to have them all back.
"We've played well over the last month of football, we just need the results now."
Stagg is off contract at the end of the season, and was the subject of speculation his career could have been over after suffering medial ligament damage in his knee against the Titans in round 10.
While he is studying civil construction and business to prepare him for life after football, the 29-year-old former Maroons representative said his knee was much better and he was keen to play on for another season.
"I feel good. I haven't had a lot of game time this year, due to the knee injuries," he said. "I've never dealt with knee problems before, but they were more or less freak accidents, so it's not too much to worry about now.
"I'm liking the luxury of being at home with my family, so hopefully that (a contract extension) is something we'll sort out."
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