Parker: Queensland teams can give title race a shake
SUCCESS is never guaranteed, but it's always expected of the Brisbane Broncos.
If the Broncos are going to be successful in 2019 they need to find consistency.
The Broncos showed in 2018 they could compete with the best sides in the competition, but dropping a number of games against bottom eight sides cost them at the back end of the year. After finishing sixth on the ladder, they were bundled out by the Dragons in the first week of the finals.
For the Broncos to improve on their 2018 season they don't need one specific player to lift, they need the entire squad to lift.
I'm excited to see how the season unfolds for them.
They've had plenty of change, both on and off the field, over the off-season, headlined by Anthony Seibold and Wayne Bennett trading places.
There's plenty of expectation on the shoulders of new coach Seibold, but he showed last year at the Rabbitohs he could handle that pressure.
I'm not expecting the Broncos to be an overnight success. I think they'll improve, but they'll be a work in progress and take some time to reach their full potential.
It's easy to say Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima are the key men for the Broncos, but for me it's Andrew McCullough.
If Milford and Nikorima are to have the space and time they need to create their magic, they're going to need their forwards going forward and that starts with the service McCullough gives out of dummy-half.
McCullough may not have the running game of a Damien Cook, but he is a tremendous reader of the play, has a solid kicking game and doesn't shirk his work in defence.
Turning to the Cowboys, after realising they needed a change in personnel and a change in the way they played the game they have recruited accordingly.
The inclusions of Josh McGuire, Jordan Kahu and Nene McDonald will give the Cowboys some added experience and some of the attacking power missing last year.
McGuire gives the pack tremendous balance and allows Taumalolo to go back to an edge, where he'll terrorise opposing teams.
The Cowboys lacked speed and spark in their backline in 2018 and will be looking to Justin O'Neill to lift.
O'Neill has played State of Origin and for Australia, and he is a premiership winner.
Last year, however, he struggled in an under-performing Cowboys backline.
If the Cowboys are to threaten the defensive edge of the top teams in the competition, they need players such as O'Neill in top form.
There's no surprises, though, when it comes to nominating the key man for the Cowboys this season - new skipper Michael Morgan.
Now that Johnathan Thurston has retired, the Cowboys are Morgan's team.
We saw Morgan's capabilities at the back end of the 2017 season when he led the Cowboys to the grand final, but injury robbed him of the chance to do the same in 2018.
As far as the Titans are concerned, if they can get it together and find some consistency they have the side to be in contention at the pointy end of the season.
The Titans have a really strong forward pack -with players such as Ryan James, Jarrod Wallace, Kevin Proctor and Jai Arrow - a pair of creative halves and some solid backs who can find their way to the tryline.
The Titans can compete with any side in the competition but need to find a way to stay in the grind for the full 80 minutes.
Ash Taylor is the barometer. I know he's only young, but he's fast approaching 100 first-grade games, has the big pay cheque and handles the ball more than most in the Gold Cost outfit.
This year he'll be helped by new recruits Tyrone Roberts and Ryley Jacks, and again be called on as the go-to man for the Titans.
We've seen what Ash can do when the game is on the line. We know he's capable of coming up with the match-winning play but I'd like to see him improve in the grind and close out games for the Titans.
As a team, the Titans need to lift in 2019. They're in their second year under Garth Brennan and have again recruited strongly.
Brian Kelly and Shannon Boyd are both great pick-ups and there will be plenty of expectation on Tyrone Peachey, but they've also done well picking up Roberts and Jacks.
There will be plenty of eyes on Bryce Cartwright this season as well. He had a disappointing 2018 but I watched him in the trial against the Broncos and he was very impressive.