Settled, in-form and ruthless – North Queensland appear the best credentialled team to become the first club since the inception of the NRL to secure back-to-back premierships.
No team has won successive titles since the NRL was formed in 1998.
Brisbane were the last club to win back-to-back grand finals in a unified rugby league competition when they won the 1992 and 1993 titles.
The Cowboys’ 36-0 dismantling of an in-form Canterbury team in Townsville on Thursday will have sent shockwaves throughout the competition.
With their State of Origin representatives back on deck and Michael Morgan returning from a knee injury, Paul Green’s men put on a clinic against the fourth-placed Bulldogs.
Gold Coast coach Neil Henry led the Cowboys from 2009 to 2013 and played a significant role in forming the squad which delivered the club’s maiden premiership in 2015.
He says there’s plenty of reasons why the Cowboys can go where no other club has been in almost three decades.
“With Michael Morgan back in they are a settled side. They’ve been able to keep the same team on the park for long periods of time,” Henry told AAP.
“It was a complete performance I just thought (against the Bulldogs). A 36-0 shutout.
“It’s a little bit ominous … it just shows what they can do.”
For his part Henry is proud of his legacy at the Cowboys, who he led to 59 wins in 128 matches during his five seasons in charge.
He says a key plank of the success the club is no enjoying is the development of so many homegrown players.
“It’s always been a good squad. It’s been settled for a number of years now and the young players, the local guys, have got good experience of playing first grade,” he said.
“Greenie’s had some smart recruitment around that as well to get a few players in.
“They’re playing a style of footy where they’re confident they can play a full 80 minutes and they can come back and win games. They’re a hard team to beat.”