WHY is it so hard to be convinced by the Roosters this season?
Their case as potential premiers is undeniable, and backed up by the facts. They have a star-studded roster, they finished in the top two and won in week one of the finals.
The odds all point toward a Storm-Roosters grand final. Under the current finals system, every premier crowned has taken the week off-preliminary final route.
It’s where the vast majority of people predicted they would be, and yet somehow Kick-off remains less than sold. It’s not a lonely place to be, with plenty willing to tip an upset at the hands of the Cowboys this week.
Most of the skepticism stems from the lack of 80-minute performances they’ve strung together this season.
Coach Trent Robinson has refuted, and at times bristled, at that suggestion, but you only need to look at their last performance to see that it holds water.
Some individual brilliance from Latrell Mitchell got them out of jail but they squandered leads 14-0 and 18-6 against a Broncos side Wayne Bennett admitted was poor.
The Cowboys have been the complete opposite. Battered and bruised, and without their two biggest stars, the Cowboys ground and grafted their way to the finals – and needed the Dragons final-round capitulation to get there.
However, their performances against the more fancied Sharks and Eels have been complete.
They’ve won both in the back end and those two games have allowed Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo to emerge as the form players of the finals.
Their respective paths set this game up as a clash between the talent and brilliance of the Roosters against the grit and poise of the Cowboys.
Should North Queensland win, it wouldn’t be the first time the latter has overcome the former. It’s not hard to buy into a fairy tale finals run and, this season, the Cowboys are that side. Is that clouding our view? Perhaps.
The Roosters are rightly favoured to win, as they are with the punters, but they may need to produce that elusive 80 minutes to do it.