Brisbane Broncos: The run home...

The once high flying Broncos have been struggling badly of late, as Origin football and a multitude of injuries have taken their toll on a team who were doing as well early under Ivan Henjak as they had under Wayne Bennett.<br><br>The scary situation for the Broncos is this; they have started to roll over and die in games, something the great club has never been accused of, and the capitulation to South Sydney last week was appalling. Broncos fans will be hoping the returns of Darren Lockyer, Sam Thaiday and Israel Folau will resurrect their season. Though by the time Folau is predicted to return (round 25) it may be all too late.<br><br>Four losses in their last five games to Parramatta, Cronulla, the Bulldogs and South Sydney, doesn’t augur well for the NRL’s most successful club.<br><br><b>The run home: </b>Titans (A), Raiders (A), Sharks (H), Panthers (H), Dragons (A), Cowboys (A), Raiders (H).<br><br>With two Queensland derbies on the run home and an away trip to Canberra, nothing appears easy for the Broncos, but it may all come down to a season defining game at WIN Stadium in round 24 against the Dragons. <br><br>Brisbane haven’t beaten the competition leaders in any of their last eight meetings. It’s a streak that is bordering on ridiculous. Simply put, the Dragons are the current NRL measuring stick and Brisbane need to beat them if they are to make their mark as premiership heavyweights.<br><br><b>Players to Watch:<br>Justin Hodges </b>– All throat slitting gestures aside, Hodges is the Broncos - and arguably the NRL’s - most potent attacking weapon and when he isn’t on the park, the Broncos can look pedestrian. When Hodges is in the thick of it, they can be lethal. Minus Justin Hodges in 2009, Brisbane are 4 from 9. With him they are 5 from 8.<br><br><b>Sam Thaiday</b> – Big Sam Thaiday has been a revelation for the Broncos in 2009, leading the way and showing why he is their most important forward. Thaiday is a wrecking ball in defence and attack and gets the Broncos over the advantage line with his many hit ups. His improved fitness and work ethic have helped put the Broncos in contention and will keep them there all the way through September.<br><br><b>Predicted Finish: </b>7th