2019 draw: The big five games for the Broncos
EVERY game matters on the road to an NRL premiership, but some clashes have more meaning, more feeling.
These are the big five games that matter to the Brisbane Broncos in 2019 as they look to send Wayne Bennett out in style.
Round 1 v Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park
The Broncos need to make an instant impact against the 2018 grand finalists. The Storm have the wood on Brisbane, winning five of 20 games in Melbourne, including their past three contests at AAMI Park. If the Broncos want to be a legitimate title threat in 2019, they need to start with a bang by beating the Storm.
Round 4 v Sydney Roosters at SCG
Few Broncos players would have experience playing at the hallowed Sydney Cricket Ground. And the showdown doesn't get more daunting - a clash with reigning premiers the Roosters, who will be keen to flex their title-winning muscle early. The Broncos beat the Roosters in both clashes last season so that will give Wayne Bennett's troops confidence they can knock off the champs.
Round 8 v South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium
This shapes as the ultimate grudge match. Current Souths coach Anthony Seibold is the favourite to replace Wayne Bennett at the Broncos in 2020. If he sees out his Souths deal next year, Seibold could come face-to-face with his future employers. Brisbane beat the Bunnies in both clashes last year so they have nothing to fear tactically.
Round 15 v Newcastle Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium
This clash comes six days after State of Origin II, and the representative season is always a test of Brisbane's playing resources. The likes of Josh McGuire, Matt Gillett, Andrew McCullough and Corey Oates face backing up for a tricky road trip against a Knights side that beat them 15-10 in Newcastle last year.
Round 21 v North Queensland Cowboys at 1300 Smiles Stadium
The Queensland derby always throws up some superb theatre and expect more drama in this clash a month before the NRL finals. If North Queensland return to their winning ways in 2019, this shapes as a contest that could decide a top-four berth. Cowboys recruit Ben Barba has a chance to have the last laugh after his forgettable one-year stint with the Broncos in 2014.