For Laurie Daley, it’s starting to feel like 1989 all over again and he can feel a shock Canberra premiership coming on.
With two rounds left, the Raiders, lightly fancied at season kickoff, have emerged as a genuine title threat and Daley can’t help but be reminded of 27 years ago when he helped guide the Green Machine to their maiden title.
“It reminds me of 1989 when no one really gave us a chance,” Raiders great Daley said.
“All of a sudden, you get yourself in a position and you start to win and that breeds confidence and, for whatever reason, it happens.
“As an ex-player, it starts to get exciting because it’s the first time in a long time I genuinely feel we’re a good chance of winning.”
A glance at the 1989 Raiders’ squad reveals they were stacked with stars from top to bottom – Daley, Mal Meninga, Brad Clyde, Glenn Lazarus, Gary Belcher and Steve Walters were also superstars of their era.
It seems in stark contrast to the Raiders of 2016 who boast just one State of Origin player in Josh Papalii.
However, Daley points out that many in that Raiders squad didn’t establish themselves on the representative scene until after their premiership win.
Daley, Stuart, Clyde and Walters didn’t play rep football until that year or the year after their grand final win over Balmain.
And while key position players Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer and Jack Wighton have no Origins and one finals appearance between them, Daley said they had the qualities to handle the pressure of September.
“I think that history would suggest that you would need your key position players to have played big games,” Daley said.
“But the way they’re playing at the moment would suggest to me they’re very confident.
“They’ve got a hooker (Josh Hodgson) who has played for Great Britain, Sezer and Austin and Jack Wighton, they’re probably guys who are capable of playing rep football.”