Roar Fear No Wanderer

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Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith does not believe his side are scared of Western Sydney despite the claims of Wanderers fullback Jerome Polenz.

Polenz on Thursday suggested the new premiers held fear of the Parramatta outfit due to the Wanderers’ unbeaten record against the Roar at Pirtek Stadium.

“We’re not scared of them,” Smith said.

“We haven’t won down there but that’s not what we’re thinking of. It’s no secret that we’re not scared to go anywhere.”

Smith will make his 100th appearance for Brisbane in Saturday’s match away to Western Sydney and he believes the final two regular season fixtures, the second at home to Central Coast, will provide perfect finals preparation.

“I’d rather teams fighting for the top six spots playing against us because they will give us the best challenge,” he said.

“I’m not saying a Perth Glory or a Melbourne Heart won’t give us a good challenge but they’re not fighting for anything now, whereas Western Sydney and Central Coast Mariners are.”

Roar coach Mike Mulvey was in unison with his skipper’s response to Polenz, dismissing claims the comments would be used as motivation.

“What motivates us is our own performance,” Mulvey said.

“It’s a place we really enjoy going to. They’ve got fantastic fans, the place rocks and we love playing there.

“I think finishing first gives you the only statement we need to make.”

With the premiership locked away Mulvey is able to tinker with his team before finals, which he did against Heart by swapping Jade North for James Donachie at half time.

Both Shane Stefanutto and Luke Brattan were rested for that match but will return to the starting eleven, while Ivan Franjic will see his first minutes in nearly a month.

“We have the luxury of being able to manufacture our own situation right now, because of the fact we are already in the finals,” the Brisbane boss said.

“We’re going down there to win this game but we’re also going down there to get some game time into some players.

“If Ivan starts or he’s on the bench, he knows what’s expected of him.”

Last week’s matchwinner Henrique appears set to replace the suspended Besart Berisha, though with Jean Carlos Solorzano in reserve, Mulvey has options.

“How can you overlook ‘Ricki’? He’s been a marvel for us,” he said.

“It’s a very difficult choice to make there but we’ve got 24 hours to have a think about it.

“That’s not the only option either.”

Matt Dorman

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