My fearless predictions for the 2012 NRL Season
With the 2012 NRL Season just around the corner, I thought I would look into the crystal ball and outline my predictions for the coming year.
1. North Queensland to win the premiership
Thurston’s switch to five-eighth this season will give him and the team the added inspiration needed for North Queensland to propel themselves to the 2012 title.
The move has created a healthy competition for the vacant halfback role. While former Wests Tigers No.7 Robert Lui appears the front-runner (once he overcomes a knee injury), he will not have it all his own way against Ray Thompson and Michael Morgan.
JT will be supported by a powerful forward back brimming with experience and fresh young talent. The likes of Matthew Scott, Tariq Sims, Jason Taumalolo, Glenn Hall and Dallas Johnson will lay the foundations for the likes of Thurston and co to work their magic.
2. David Furner to be first coach sacked
Canberra don’t have the coach to win the premiership and that’s what every team is aiming to do, isn’t it?
It seems extraordinary that Furner has dodged scrutiny over recent inconsistent performances. With a 46 percent strike rate (50 games 23 wins 27 loses)I continue to ask the question, how can Don Furner maintain objectivity in regards to his brother’s reign as head coach?
The return of Terry Campese will help Furner’s cause, but will it be enough?
Furner will be flat out lasting any longer than July if the Raiders struggle again.
3. Best new talent
Souths’ Adam Reynolds looks to have a bucket load of talent but plenty of halves have come and gone for the Bunnies. He will however be assisted by the likes of Crocker, Sam Burgess and Roy Asotasi setting a solid foundation.
The New Zealand Warriors Toyota Cup squad is bristling with talent. After winning the grand final last year, the Warriors will need some of these youngsters to step up in 2012.
Keep an eye out for centre Konrad Hurrell, who has huge potential.
4. Buy of the year
It would be easy to say Wayne Bennett, but I won’t.
On his day, Chris Sandow can match it with the best. Smart, aggressive player with a good kicking game, Sandow will relish the opportunity to play with the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Willie Tonga and Nathan Hindmarsh.
Look for English Test forward James Graham to make a big impact at Belmore. It might take him a few games to adjust but this bloke has a big engine and will no doubt leave his mark on the game in 2012.
5. The Blues to finally beat the Canetoads
With Darren Lockyer out of the way the Blues have a great opportunity to set the record straight.
Having inspirational leader Paul Gallen leading the way up front, and with Brett Stewart back to his best, watch for Ricky Stuart to lead the Blues to a 2-1 victory over Queensland.
6. Wooden Spoon
Sorry Penrith fans, I hate to say it, but I think you face some tough times over the next year or so.
You have secured a good coach and with Gus working his magic off the field it won’t be all doom and gloom, but on field, I’m not sure you have the roster to do any damage.
Losing Trent Waterhouse hurts. Travis Burns and Luke Walsh will need to play out of their skins to prove me wrong. It will help if Lachlan Coote and Michael “Flash” Gordon stay on the paddock, because any injuries will expose the Panthers’ lack of depth.
All is not lost, though. I think 2013 will be the year of the Panther.