27 Sep 2010

Rugby league droughts set to end on Sunday

11:32 am on 27 September 2010

Two of rugby league's greatest droughts will come together in Sunday night's NRL grand final in Sydney - the Roosters coach Brian Smith's lifetime of near misses against St George Illawarra's seasons of unfulfilled promises.

Smith has endured a 27-year title heartache which he's been within reach of pacifying on three occasions only to be denied at the final hurdle.

Twice he went to the big dance with the Dragons only for Wayne Bennett's Brisbane Broncos to prove too big an obstacle to overcome.

On Sunday night, Bennett - the most successful coach in NRL history with six titles to his name - again stands in Smith's way, this time in charge of the Dragons.

The personal battle which began in 1987 is the most storied coaching duel in the game.

Not only would the Roosters end Smith's long wait should they lift the trophy, they will also become the first side in 76 years to go from wooden spooners to premiers - a feat which only enhances the magnitude of Smith's impact since his arrival this year.

And despite all of Bennett's success, this challenge may just be the greatest of them all.

This is a Dragons club which has been called many things over their 12-year existence - underachievers, chokers and pretenders.

Never have they been called premiers.

Two dreams, but only one happy ending.