It's Round 6. It's a few months since JT slotted the extra point in Grand Final 2015. Teams are settling into their routines, we have an understanding of who is looking good and who isn't. And now, more than ever is the perfect time to ask the question. Can JT and his cowboys go back to back in 2016?.
So many factors play a part in a teams success. It's a long season and as always we will have ups and downs, injuries and player controversy. More than risk mitigation and controlling the things that go wrong so many things have to go right. In a competition where teams are evened out (salary cap), and results can go either way every week. In addition you throw in a long rep season and player management it's no wonder no team has gone back to back since the Broncos in 92-93.
This week I will begin with my top 2 reasons why they can't and my top 2 reasons why they can (go back to back). Then each week we will look at the team and their opponents pre-round and how they are tracking to back to back titles.
Why they can't:
1. Player Burnout
If you look at the road to back to back as one period, the start of 2015 to the end of 2016, it reads like this: 2015 All Stars Game, Pre-Season, Regular Season, Origin, Finals, Grand Final, World Club Challenge, 2016 All Stars Game, Pre-Season, Regular Season, Origin, Finals and then for the faithful a second crown. That is a long time with no rest. It will take it's toll. It will come down to Paul Green. One of the key indicators of the Cowboys success in 2015 was Paul Green and how he managed his players workload, it will be a factor again.
2. The Broncos
Most people will say success is in the Cowboys hands, I disagree (to an extent). You take Milford and Hunt, who's combination is getting stronger each week. The pain of missing out in golden point because of a simple knock on. And the fact that Broncos appear to have everyone's measure this year. Hunt will be hungry to exact revenge, the Broncos are managed by the best coach in history and they will be very very hard to stop.
Why they can:
1. They've Learnt to Win Away
Call it player management, call it skill, call it their expert coach who changed the clubs culture. It's not one of any of these elements that mean the Cowboys can win away from home, it's all of them, combined. They can travel now. And teams this year should be on notice that no longer will a return trip south of the border mean an automatic two points for their opponent.
2. Their Roster
Quite simply, on paper, they have the best roster in the comp.
Their two pronged approach out of hooker. The Broncos and Cowboys were the only two teams to use this approach, a front line hooker for 20-30 minutes then a small impact runner out of dummy half at the end of each half. And guess what they were the two teams that made it to the dance. They have the Australian props at bookend. Taumalolo, the most devastating running back-rower in the game. Coote, who is becoming one of the games premier No.1s and now more than ever is Origin ready. Morgan, who is probably the most important player in the cowboys roster. The running No.6 who takes so much pressure of the man, the lynch pin, the best, the next immortal JT. JT is the heart and soul of the club, a never say die skillful competitor who (if anyone can) will take his side to back to back premierships.
If any team in recent history had the cards stacked heavily in their favor it is Paul Green and his North Queensland Cowboys, I am looking forward to an exhilarating rest of the season and with a complete pun intended I hope you enjoy the ride with me.