Captains agree it’s between Manly and Dogs
The captains of teams involved in this year’s NRL finals agree the competition winner will come from this Friday’s grudge match between Canterbury and Manly.
The pair, going head to head at ANZ Stadium in a qualifying final, were the overwhelming favourites in a poll of the team leaders at Monday’s captains’ call.
Premiership favourites the Sea Eagles were favoured by Canterbury’s Michael Ennis and Cronulla’s Paul Gallen as the team to beat, while North Queensland’s Johnathan Thurston and Canberra’s Terry Campese like the chances of this year’s minor premiers.
“I can’t go past Manly obviously with the side that they’ve got,” Gallen said.
“It’s a pretty good side and they’ve been there and done it before.”
South Sydney’s Michael Crocker summed up this year’s premiership race perfectly when he admitted he couldn’t pick a favourite between the two.
The Raiders only just squeezed into the finals on the back of a five-game winning streak, but they’ve been dubbed the dark horse of the competition, alongside the Rabbitohs, who emerged from a slump with two wins to finish the regular season.
“Souths have got a really good style of play and I reckon they’re the smokies,” Thurston said.
“They’ve flown under the radar.
“Every team goes through a period like that (where they lose a few) but they’ve bounced back.”
After witnessing the Raiders pile on 36 unanswered points against last year’s grand finalists the Warriors, Crocker admits he will be keeping one eye on the Green Machine.
“The way the Raiders have been playing, they’re a scary prospect,” he said.
“If you look at their performance in the second half yesterday, when they were 22-6 down at halftime, to come out and score 36 points, they’ve got that ability and so many class players across the park.”
Ben Barba was unanimously anointed this year’s Dally M Medal winner for his scintillating season with the Bulldogs, and was tied with Thurston on two votes a piece as the player most oppositions will fear these finals.
Manly’s Jason King declined the opportunity to participate in the poll.© AAP 2013
Passionate about your league? Then sign up to The Roar's brand new daily league email, delivering Roaring articles directly to you day-in, day-out. You'll love it!
Click here to join now!
Looking to join The Roar team? We're searching for an experienced Group Sales Manager to lead our team in Sydney. Yes, this does mean you get to work with the site all day long! If you're a digital media sales star, we want to hear from you. Apply now.