I'm a pretty optimistic sports fan, I tend to give the teams I follow every opportunity to prove they can be successful.
For example; it has taken me 22 (out of 25) rounds of the NRL and a 42-6 hammering at the hands of the Roosters to finally give up on the Warriors this season. Many fell off the wagon a lot earlier.
So, my optimism around this year's Bay of Plenty Steamers squad must be taken with a grain of salt but boy, they look good.
In their two Mitre 10 Cup Championship games so far they have produced emphatic bonus point wins over Otago and Waikato. In those games combined they have scored 90 points and conceded 21.
Otago played in the Championship final last year and the match against Waikato was a Premiership crossover - theoretically they are ranked a whole tier higher than Bay of Plenty. They are far from weak opponents.
Score lines can be misleading. It's important to look at how a team is playing rather than just the end result but on the evidence so far, the Steamers seem to have all the pieces to the puzzle.
We already knew they had X-factor in the backline. Tackle breaking machine Chase Tiatia impressed for the Hurricanes in the Super Rugby Championship this year and Joe Webber has starred for the All Blacks Sevens in the past.
Steamers newbie Joe Ravouvou, who has also played for the All Blacks Sevens, announced himself to Steamers fans with a fantastic individual try from inside his own half against Waikato.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The big difference this season is the dominance of the forward pack. Cliches become cliches for a reason and it rings true that you have to win the battle up front before you can spin the ball wide.
The Steamers haven't just won the battle up front so far this season, they have battered, bruised and demolished their opposition. They had the Waikato forward pack back pedalling on multiple occasions, setting up attacking moves or winning scrum penalties to get out of trouble.
Last season also started well but they were crippled by injury, falling to a fifth-place finish in the Championship. This year, the squad has great depth - the off season recruitment process unearthed some genuine stars - and there are several New Zealand Under-20 players chomping at the bit to get some game time.
The Steamers face their greatest test yet with an away trip to defending Premiership champions Auckland on Saturday. If Bay of Plenty can snatch a win there, few will doubt their credentials as Championship favourites this year.