The finals hoodoos facing Dragons, Rabbitohs and Warriors
The continued success of the Storm, Roosters, Broncos, Sharks and Panthers should be recognised, but it is the Warriors, Rabbitohs and Dragons who deserve extra credit for making their returns to the NRL finals.
The Warriors' recent struggles are well-documented. Their return to the finals - for the first time since 2011 - is exciting.
The Rabbitohs and Dragons haven't endured as long an absence – both making their most recent finals appearances in 2015.
They're two of the most storied clubs in the league and while they have both won premierships in the past 10 years, recent years have seen a struggle for success.
Each of these teams returns to the finals hoping to go out with a bang instead of a whimper. But each will have to end a hoodoo just to taste success in the first week.
The Dragons continue their storied finals relationship with the Broncos – a rivalry that extends all the way back to 1992-93, when the Broncos became the last team to win back-to-back premierships.
Though the Dragons claimed the spoils in the only meeting between the two teams this season, it wasn't at Suncorp – and that's where the problem lies for the Red V.
The Dragons haven't won at Suncorp Stadium since 2009.
They've come close, sure, including a heartbreaking one-point defeat in Darren Lockyer's final game at the venue, but their losing run in Brisbane is now in double digits (10 games) and when you combine the Broncos' wins over South Sydney and the Roosters in recent weeks with the Dragons' recent struggles, it doesn't paint a pretty picture.
But even the Dragons' woeful record in Brisbane pales in comparison to the size of the hoodoo facing South Sydney.
As they prepare to take on the Storm at AAMI Park they'll be painfully aware that they've never won, not even once, in the Victorian capital.
It's a record that includes 14 games and stretches back to 1999.
Not only have the Bunnies been unable to emerge from Melbourne with a win, the Rabbitohs have never scored more than 20 points in a match in the southern capital.
That said, no defending premiers have won in the first week of the finals since the Panthers in 2004. Either way a long-standing hoodoo will end on Friday night.
And the Bunnies know they've got a second shot. That could see them play with the attacking freedom that an elimination final rarely affords.
Then there are the Warriors, already facing a mountainous task from eighth place. Like South Sydney, they'll be boosted by a recent win over their finals opponents – Penrith (in round 24) – but that win was in Auckland.
In Sydney, it's another story, and the Panthers have been the epitome of a "bogey team" on this side of the ditch.
This year in Sydney, despite an under-strength, inexperienced Panthers side facing a near full strength Warriors team, the young boys from Penrith emerged with a convincing win.
The Warriors have only beaten the Panthers three times in their past 12 meetings – and every one of those times was in Auckland.
They haven't beaten Penrith in Sydney since 2012 – just months after their last finals appearance. Their record at ANZ is also unimpressive, though they managed a drought-breaking win there this year.
It's great to see the Warriors, Dragons and Rabbitohs make their returns to the finals this year, and they all deserve to be there.
But as significant as their return is, they'll have to shake off the weight of history if they want to make a genuine impression.
There's never been a better time.
Don't miss out on seeing your team chase premiership glory. Make sure to get your tickets to week 1 of the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series