The Cowboys are one of the favourites for the NRL premiership
The Cowboys are one of the favourites for the NRL premiership GETTY IMAGES

Wild about the Broncos for 2016

After tipping North Queensland to win last year's NRL premiership I've been feeling the pressure of going back-to-back every day my editor asks: "Have you done that season preview yet?".

It's given me a small insight into the huge task and the amount of pressure on the Cowboys as they attempt to emulate Brisbane's 1992-93 double.

It's a tough assignment, but here it is boss.

The more I analyse the teams, the draw, the rosters, Origin and other key factors that don't include injuries to marquee players, I keep coming up with the same name - Brisbane.

Because the Broncos have a mobile, skilful pack that will be well-placed for the introduction of the reduced eight-man interchange this season, with several players who can play 80 minutes if required.

Alex Glenn, Corey Parker, Andrew McCullough, Adam Blair, Josh Maguire and even Sam Thaiday can pump out big minutes, and, as they showed last year, their goal-line defence is superb.

Throw in the addition of centre James Roberts to replace Justin Hodges and the Broncos look the goods.

Even during Origin time they will still have the experience and class of players such as Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford (pictured below), McCullough, Glenn, Blair, Jarrod Wallace and Kodi Nikorima to keep the wins coming.

"You won't be hearing us (Cowboys) talking about back-to-back, it's almost banned," Green told APN.

While the Cowboys are under pressure to break the "back-to-back hoodoo", the Warriors - and coach Andrew McFadden - have arguably even higher expectations after adding Roosters fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke to their roster.

Their list also includes brilliant halfback Shaun Johnson, boom youngster Tuimoala Lolohea, game-breakers Konrad Harrell and Solomone Kata, and winger Manu Vatuvei. That means they just need their forwards, led by new skipper Ryan Hoffman, to lay a platform and that elusive first NRL premiership could be headed across the Tasman.

Speaking of fairytales, the last decade has been full of them.

St George Illawarra started the ball rolling under master coach Wayne Bennett in 2010, ending a 31-year drought by beating the Roosters.

Next it was South Sydney, which ended a 43-year premiership wait for fans in 2014, and then last year, in their 20th season in the competition, North Queensland claimed its first title with a 17-16 win in golden-point time against the Broncos in one of the great grand finals.

So could 2016 be the year of the biggest fairytale of them all, with Cronulla winning its first premiership in its 50th year in the competition.

Some smart recruiting after a sixth-place finish last season has seen the Sharks backed from $17 to $13 to go all the way.
Whether that is sentimental or smart money remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, recent results have favoured teams trying to break premiership droughts.

Having said that, teams such as Manly, with a new roster under rookie coach Trent Barrett, the Storm, Bulldogs, Roosters and even Parramatta won't be interested in reading about fairytales.

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