Why history is against the Broncos in 2016
The Brisbane Broncos are the short-priced favourites to avenge their 2015 NRL Grand Final heartbreak and go one better in 2016. And rightly so.
The reduction in interchanges, the addition of James Roberts, and the influence of master coach Wayne Bennett make them an attractive proposition when trying to predict this year's premiership winner.
Sadly for fans north of the Tweed, history suggests the Broncos may be destined to fall short in this year's decider as well.
Cast your minds back to the 2003 Roosters. The raging favourites were expected to make light work of the Penrith Panthers in the grand final and clinch what would have been their second premiership in a row. Alas, they were outclassed by Luke Priddis and co on a slippery Sunday night in October.
Fast forward 10 years to 2013. A decade after losing the big one 18-6, the Roosters finally got their hands on the trophy with a 26-18 triumph over the gallant Sea Eagles.
The 10-year trend continued. Back in 2004, a heroic Andrew Ryan tackle inspired the Canterbury Bulldogs to a 16-13 win over the Roosters in the grand final.
Then, in 2014, the Bulldogs found themselves in another GF, only to lose that one 30-6. Just like the Roosters, Canterbury's grand final fortunes were reversed – this time negatively.
The 10-year curse had claimed its second victim in as many years. Surely it couldn't happen again.
That brings us to the Cowboys. Separated by a decade, North Queensland's two grand final appearances rank as some of the most memorable of all time. Their 30-16 loss to the Tigers in 2005 was one for the ages, but it was dwarfed by what happened 10 years on.
The NRL's most recent decider saw the Cowboys finally claim the NRL's top prize with a miracle 17-16 win over the Broncos in golden point.
The eerie stats continue, with the Roosters conceding 18 points in both those grand finals, while the Cowboys scored 16 points in both games (not including golden point).
When something happens once, we tend to ignore it. When it happens twice, we start to pay attention. But when something out of the ordinary happens three years in a row, we must recognise it as a trend.
That's where the 2016 Broncos come in. The cold hard facts suggest they may be destined to lose. The Roosters had a positive turnaround from 2003 to 2013. The Bulldogs went the other way from 2004 to 2014, while the Cowboys enjoyed 2015 much more than 2005.
The 2006 Broncos celebrated grand final day with a 15-8 win over the Melbourne Storm, but the 10-year curse suggests they will lose the 2016 grand final. As good as they were last year, and as dominant as they are expected to be this year, Queensland's most successful club could be set for more heartbreak.
Nothing in rugby league is ever set in stone, but streaks and curses are horribly hard to break. Will Wayne Bennett's side be able to buck this quirky 10-year trend in 2016?