While we have been enduring rotation policies and high risk zones of the summer game, our NRL stars have been toiling through a pre-season that has pushed them beyond the boundaries of modern sports science safety, in order to be primed for round one.
You may have already received an invitation to join an NRL tipping comp, the following is a guide to improve your chances of winning the ‘best tipper’ title.
Brisbane Broncos Est 1988
The premier package north of the Tweed, the Broncos are quite simply an NRL powerhouse. Boasting six first grade premierships, Brisbane have an enviable record for making the top eight.
A 2013 roster that boasts multiple State and International representatives, you will not be alone in having this mob as regular winners for your weekly tips.
Care however must be taken during June and July, when the club notoriously experiences a form slump due to key players missing on Origin duty.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs – Minor Premiers 2012
Runners up for the title last year, this is a club synonymous with success. The Bulldogs of 2013 promise to be an even better model in 2013 with the addition of the colossus Tony Williams to an already heaving pack.
‘T-Rex’ will get his chance to impress while the mad Englishman James Graham cools his gums on the sidelines as a result of suspension for chomping on an ear in the 2012 grand final.
The Doggies enjoy the most enthusiastic of support from the stands and attending one of their home games is an experience to savour. Bring a plate, drums and a mouthguard.
Canberra Raiders – aka The Green Machine
Not everything out of the nation’s capital is boring and drab – when the Raiders take to the field they do so sporting high-vis fluoro green jumpers and have long regarded as the NRL benchmark for having cool goal post pads, theirs being in the shape of a milk carton.
Consistency/inconsistency can be their Achilles heel; however they are somewhat reliable when at home on unforgivingly cold Canberra nights, so take a thermos and very sensible and warm clothing on game day.
Made the finals last season and looking to be there or thereabouts in 2013.
North Queensland Cowboys – based in Townsville
NQ’s chances hinge on superstar Johnathan Thurston – this, and every season for that matter. The Cowboys will be hoping the off-contract maestro will not be distracted during negotiations for a gig in 2014 and beyond.
Thurston’s appeal is twofold; on-field he is one of the game’s elite, while from a marketing perspective the sky is the limit. He made multiple appearances on the Footy Show last year where his sole purpose and role was to laugh at the camera. It went like this:
Fatty Vautin (Footy Show host): “Tonight we have QLD legend JT appearing on the show. This man has the best laugh in the game. Laugh for us JT”
Vautin: “Great stuff JT. Viewers, we’ll cross back to JT later for more of the same throughout the show.”
It will be no laughing matter though if the Cowboys are dudded by the video ref in circumstances similar to them bowing out in the major semi-final last year.
Gold Coast Titans – team formerly known as Giants, Seagulls and Chargers
The Titans have at their disposal a decent roster, with an almost Origin strength forward pack. Prize recruit ‘the Coal Train’ Dave Taylor will need to avoid McDonalds as well as the luring glitz and glamour along Cavill Avenue.
The loss of chief playmaker Scott Prince may prove to be a factor in the success, or lack thereof, in season 2013.
Their number one supporter is former cricket sensation Andrew ‘Roy’ Symonds and the Titans proudly recognise XXXX as an associate sponsor.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles – Established 1947
The Silvertails have been one of the most successful clubs on the field in recent history and there is nothing to suggest a fall from grace anytime soon. Based on Sydney’s northern peninsula, this club is regarded as the one everyone loves to hate.
Boosted by Andrew Johns on the coaching staff, the Sea Eagles are a well-run, highly professional organisation – not!
They have developed numerous and fierce rivalries over the years, most notably with the Parramatta Eels, closely followed by the Manly board itself.
If you are not a fan of this club, you ought to loathe everything about them.
Melbourne Storm – Premiers 2012
The reigning premiers, Melbourne have forged themselves a proud history during their short time in the top grade. Boasting the’big three’ in Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, Melbourne have the key positions covered more than adequately.
Parochial and passionate supporters have enjoyed some impressive highs and stayed strong during some turbulent times. I suspect there will be cause for continued celebrations in 2013.
From the coalfields of the Hunter Region, Newcastle has a reputation for a hard-toiling and honest rugby league team.
With bona fide supercoach Wayne Bennett at the helm and the recruitment of Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith, the Knights will pack plenty of starch in their forward ranks this season.
While on the subject of packing plenty of starch, mining magnate and club owner Nathan Tinkler’s financial woes have been well documented of late.
Good news for Knights fans, Tinkler seems to be offloading his horses in preference of his impressive football field roster.
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