2017 ladder predictions (Part 2)

Josh Allerton Roar Guru

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    The NRL season is just a couple of sleeps away. After I ran through those who would miss the eight, here are the sides that will make it to the pointy end of the season.

    8) South Sydney Rabbitohs
    A surprising choice for some, South Sydney will be looking to bounce back from a below average 2016. The acquisition of Robbie Farah is going to make the world of difference, and give stability to their spine.

    Cody Walker will be their permanent five-eighth this year, which will round out their outstanding 2017 spine which also includes Greg Inglis and Adam Reynolds.

    Look for Souths to be surprising many teams this year through their young guns – Braidon Burns, Angus Crichton and Hymel Hunt.

    7) Sydney Roosters
    After a disastrous 2016, the Roosters will be hoping new recruits Michael Gordon and Luke Keary provide the poise that was dearly needed last season. Being one of the most in form teams of the pre-season after surprisingly winning the Auckland Nines, they will have high expectations to succeed in 2017.

    Mitchell Pearce will have the most influential player in guiding the Roosters back into the eight Look for his name come Origin and Dally M time.

    Mitchell Pearce. (Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

    6) Canberra Raiders
    Shocking everyone last year, the Canberra Raiders will be hoping they can show their 2016 form again leading into the new season. If the Raiders are going to have a big impact this season, their spine – Jack Wighton, Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer and Josh Hodgson will need to lead from the front.

    I can easily see Canberra moving much higher up the ladder into the top four but I’m just not convinced as of yet that they are mentally prepared to improve after a wonderful season last year. Sezer is one player who will definitely need to improve next year.

    Their 44-0 loss in the trials to the Newcastle Knights provided plenty of doubt in my mind.

    5) Brisbane Broncos
    The recent predictions for the Broncos to miss the finals astounds me. A team boasting players like Darius Boyd, James Roberts, Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt and Josh McGuire should be a team in the top eight.

    The loss of Corey Parker is a blow for the Broncos, although with some wonderful young forwards coming through the ranks, they are still in a great position.

    I’m predicting Anthony Milford to lead Brisbane’s charge into the finals, and possibly a Dally M medal.

    4) New Zealand Warriors
    Yes, the Warriors. When Kieran Foran plays they will field (arguably) the best starting 13 in their history, full of Origin and international stars. If they can stay on the field, I believe they can make a huge dent in this competition.

    With the international coach, spine and almost the entire backline, this could be the Warriors team that has been touted for premiership success since their introduction to the competition in 1995.

    If the Warriors are going to win a competition, 2017 is their best chance in doing so. Foran and a fit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck are going to be the men who steer this side to the top four and possibly premiership success.

    3) North Queensland Cowboys
    It’s hard to leave out the Johnathan Thurston-led side out of the premiership running, and I think they will go close again in 2017. The Cowboys were their own worst enemy against the Sharks in the preliminary final last season.

    Lachlan Coote in particular will be looking to bounce back after a horrendous finals series. The Cowboys have lost big bopper James Tamou, which is a huge hole to fill in the forward pack. Their most recent signing, Shaun Fensom, will provide some stability to their pack.

    If Thurston and co-captain Matt Scott can stay on the field all season, look for the Cowboys again in the finals. I believe they’ll only just miss out in another preliminary finals appearance.

    2) Penrith Panthers (Premiers)
    Is this the season for the team at the foot of the mountains? The Panthers in 2017 unearthed some of the young superstars of the future, including Nathan Cleary, Te Maire Martin and James Fisher-Harris.

    This young Panthers team have the potential to take the premiership by storm this season. Cleary, Bryce Cartwright and captain Matt Moylan will be lining up for their biggest season to date, as they will be in charge of leading this side to premiership success.

    Bryce Cartwright of the Panthers, (centre), celebrates with team mates

    The Panthers will be initially missing Josh Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak due to injury, but they have the personnel to cover these superstars until their return.

    I believe this young team, if they can stay on the field, will be taking home the premiership in 2017. Moylan will also go close to the Dally M if he can escalate his 2016 form.

    1) Melbourne Storm (Runners up)
    Every year it seems as though we predict the Melbourne Storm to slide down the ladder, as the ‘big three’ are one year older, they just seem to improve every season. With their star, Billy Slater finally returning from injury, he will join Cooper Cronk who’s coming off his best season to date, young superstar Cameron Munster and one of the greatest of all time, Cameron Smith.

    If Slater is unable to successfully return again, young gun Brodie Croft will come into the side and push Munster back to his best position at fullback.

    It’s hard to see the Melbourne Storm not going the distance once again in 2017. I believe they will play the Panthers in the final.

    What are your thoughts on the ladder next season? Do you think I have under/over-estimated some teams? Let me know in the comments below.

    Twitter: @Joshayyyy21

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