What Queensland sport fans can expect in 2019
If 2018 was a bottle of wine Queensland sports fans would not brand it "special occasion''.
It wouldn't belong in the Penfolds' bin.
It would be a mid-priced bottle you might pluck from the rack as you rushed out the door to your local Thai with your mates rather than crack open for your wedding anniversary.
Wonderful competition victories by the Sunshine Coast Lightning netball team, the Queensland Sheffield Shield side and the Broncos women's team were dotted along a generally grim landscape for our football codes.
Our AFL, rugby union and rugby league teams contested only one final (and lost it) and Queensland lost the State of Origin series as well.
You can't get away from it - 2018 was a so-so year for Queensland sport.
But here's the big news. It is almost over and 2019 is already full of intrigue and great anticipation. Here's our predictions and prayers for 2019.
THE HEADLINERS FOR 2019
1 Wayne Bennett: Has promised to tell the full story of his sacking by the Broncos at a time that suits him. Who knows when that will be. The only certainty is that he will go down singing and swinging.
2 Anthony Seibold: Most new coaches start with a honeymoon period but there is no such thing at the Broncos. The club is premiership hungry. Supporters cannot brand a group of young forwards as the best crop produced by the club then expect anything less than a top-four finish as a pass mark.
3 Ash Barty: What a story it would be if she won a Grand Slam title this year. The door is open. Eight different women have won the past eight Slams and we fancy her chances in the US Open for she is one of the top 10 fast court players in the world.
4 Cameron Smith: The Wantima whiz kid remains Queensland sport's most underrated high achiever. Look for him to give cheek in the golfing majors where he still has the luxury of slipstreaming behind the mega-profiled Adam Scott and Jason Day.
5 The Brisbane Lions: No, we are not bold enough to suggest they will storm to success on the last day in September, but the steady steps taken by impressive new coach Chris Fagan deserve to jag what would be a treasured appearance in the finals.
6 The Reds-Wallabies: There is just something about the appointment of Scott Johnson as director of Australian rugby that has "powder keg'' written all over it as he tries to oversee the crumbling empire of Michael Cheika. No dominant personality likes being dominated.
7 The Cowboys: The post Thurston era is fascinating. The team will be recast and have much to prove. You sense they will either click or they won't - it won't be a mid-range season.
SEND UP A CHRISTMAS PRAYER FOR
1 Kevin Walters: Deserves an NRL coaching gig. It's a shame that clubs rate him on his performance in the board room - where he is never at his best - rather than the dressing room, where he shines.
2 Queensland rugby league journalists who won't have 50 Shades of Wayne to rely on to fill our back pages every day.
3 The Gold Coast Suns: Must acquire spirit and soul even before they start winning.
4 Eagle Farm: The grand old girl is back in action and looking good after a torturous four year period. Fingers crossed we don't get a miserably wet autumn which spoils her for the winter carnival.
5 Jack Bird: In season one at the Broncos he was the original flightless Bird. Has ability but needs to make a difference in season two.
6 The Gabba: Has slid to fifth place among Australian stadiums after being outpaced by impressive new grounds in Adelaide and Perth. Needs a big Test against Sri Lanka in January and an upgrade to regain lost glory.
7 Matt Renshaw: A Test batsmen of great merit lies within him. He should get there eventually and when he does, the road blocks and stumbles could prove the making of him as they did for Matt Hayden.