The St George Illawarra Dragons will aim to turn around a difficult start to the season when they play their first home game of the year against early premiership favourites the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
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Every year your NRL team’s front office makes a big noise telling you how they have recruited a great blend of youth and experience, are 100% focussed and have the playing roster to win the comp. In most cases this is a blatant lie.
Your team would have won every premiership since Gough Whitlam got the boot if this is the case.
Here is the no nonsense, take no prisoners and upset everyone assessment of the in’s and out’s for your NRL side in 2012.
Additions: Luke Capewell (Titans), Petero Civoniceva (Panthers), Nick Slyney (Redcliffe).
Losses: Darren Lockyer (retirement), Denan Kemp (rugby union), Shane Tronc (retirement), Shea Moylan (Storm), Rohan Ahern (Mackay), Nick Kenny (retirement).
Wow, and you thought “Two and a Half Men” sucked without Charlie Sheen. What hope is there for a Lockyer-less Brisbane?
Probably a lot actually, provided either Norman or Hunt can pull even a mild Jack Reed this year. The in-tray isn’t too exciting – Capewell has about as much chance as Ashton Kutcher of securing a spot in the backline – Petero will add some nostalgia value though.
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
Additions: James Graham (St Helens), Luke MacDougall (Saracens), James Gavet (Warriors).
Losses: Jamal Idris (Titans), Michael Hodgson (retirement), Brad Morrin (retirement), Ben Roberts (Eels), Gary Warburton (retirement), Jarrad Hickey (Wakefield), Adam Sezer (Titans), Andrew Ryan (retirement), Chris Armit (Panthers), Grant Millington (Castleford), Junior Tia-Kilifi (Panthers), John Kite (Widnes).
Who let the dogs out (Des probably)? Not many new additions to the kennel, although England Prop Graham should form a good partnership up front with snow-bro Tolman to confuse Ray Warren in a blow to fantasy coaches everywhere.
The club’s merchandise outlet will be smarting from the loss of the Jamal Dreadlocks in a scene similar to the departure of the Willie ‘Fro
Additions: Shaun Berrigan (Warriors), Malcolm Congoo (Sunshine Coast), Michael Bani (Cowboys).
Losses: Alan Tongue (retirement), Daniel Vidot (Dragons), Josh Miller (Dragons), Danny Galea (Panthers), Nick Skinner (Sea Eagles), Matt Orford (released), David Milne (Mackay), James Stuart (Burleigh).
You want new blood in Canberra? Then start following Labor politics because the Raiders are running out in 2012 much the same as last year.
Shaun Berrigan takes over Matt Orford’s position as token old bastard and the Green Machine will be looking heavily to chrome dome Campese to get their speedy backs some ball this season – bar Michael Bani obviously.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Additions: Mark Taufua (Knights), Jeff Robson (Eels), Sam Tagataese (Titans), Bryce Gibbs (Wests Tigers), Andrew Fifita (Wests Tigers), Jon Green (Dragons), Isaac De Gois (Knights), Ben Ross (Rabbitohs), Jon Green (Dragons), Todd Carney (Roosters), Sosaia Feki (Warriors).
Losses: Luke Douglas (Titans), Kade Snowden (Knights), Taulima Tautai (Eels), Ryan Tongia (Wakefield), Dean Collis (Wakefield), Luke Harlen (Cowboys), Jon Mannah (Eels), Paul Aiton (Wakefield).
Haha! Ahh the Sharks. As per usual, the underachieving Shire dwellers have… Hang on a second, by God, sound the alarm – the Sharks have bought well! And not just second rowers!
Against significant odds Shane Flanagan has assembled a hardnosed pack (Green and Fifita stand out for mine) with some flair around the ruck. Now if he could just do something about those clownfish in the outside backs.
Gold Coast Titans
Additions: Jamal Idris (Bulldogs), Luke Douglas (Sharks), Beau Champion (Storm), Nate Myles (Roosters), Beau Henry (Knights – mid season), Beau Falloon (Rabbitohs), Adam Sezer (Bulldogs), Phil Graham (Roosters).
Losses: Nathan Friend (Warriors), Anthony Laffranchi (St Helens), Brad Meyers (retirement), Esi Tonga (Eels), Sam Tagataese (Sharks – mid season), Joseph Tomane (rugby union), Will Matthews (Dragons), Mat Rogers (retirement), Luke Capewell (Broncos), Clinton Toopi (retirement), Preston Campbell (retirement).
Stunk worse than a Surfers Paradise public toilet last year and have put the proverbial fire hose through the place.
Now have some NRL-quality centres, forwards to help out Bailey and two former under 20’s star five eighths in the ranks – both of whom will likely spend their time waiting at the Broadbeach Belgian Bier Cafe as Cartwright chooses to play a fullback in their position instead.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Additions: Nick Skinner (Raiders), Ben Farrar (Catalan), Liam Roach (Mackay).
Losses: Will Hopoate (God), Michael Robertson (London), Shane Rodney (London), Jamil Hopoate (Eels), Terence Seu Seu (Cessnock).
Happily resting on their premiership laurels as they show less change in their 2012 roster than Beaver Menzies’ headgear preference. At least it means the marketing department won’t have to airbrush too many players out of this year’s merchandise.
Additions: Jack Afamasaga (France – mid season), Ryan Hoffman (Wigan), Shea Moylan (Broncos), Mitchell Garbutt (Western Suburbs Newcastle), Jason Ryles (Roosters).
Losses: Chase Stanley (Dragons), Beau Champion (Titans), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Atelea Vea (Dragons), Adam Woolnough (retirement), Troy Thompson (retirement), Dane Chisholm (Wests Tigers).
Craig Bellamy sets out to again prove he is the NRL’s equivalent of Jamie Durie by renovating the career of broken down penalty machine Jason Ryles. Apart from him they’ve nabbed Ryan Hoffman back to the side and a couple of other nuffies who’ll no doubt be in the frame for this year’s Origin when it rolls around.
Additions: Kade Snowden (Sharks), Timana Tahu (Panthers), Darius Boyd (Dragons), Alex McKinnon (Dragons), Danny Buderus (Leeds), Adam Cuthbertson (Dragons), Mark Wade (Merewether Carlton), Dane Laurie (Panthers).
Losses: Mark Taufua (Sharks), Cory Paterson (Cowboys – mid season), Beau Henry (Titans – mid season), Keith Lulia (Bradford), Isaac De Gois (Sharks), Adam MacDougall (retirement), Steve Southern (Wakefield), Antonio Kaufusi (London), Dan Tolar (retirement), Cameron Ciraldo (Panthers), Shannon McDonnell (Hull KR), Josh Ailaomai (Roosters), Ben Rogers (retirement).
The great Wayne Bennett loves a challenge: see Bellamy’s Ryles and raise him one Timana Tahu/Dane Laurie combo. The Knights have also continued their recent trend of signing Dragons players and are no doubt hoping they are more Chris Houston than Danny Wicks. D
anny Buderus will fit in like he never left, with all his old mates now running the club for Tinkler.
Additions: Nathan Friend (Titans)
Losses: Lance Hohaia (St Helens), Brett Seymour (Hull FC), Jeremy Latimore (Dragons), Aaron Heremaia (Hull FC), Joel Moon (Salford), Adam Henry (Roosters), Shaun Berrigan (Raiders), Isaac John (Wakefield), James Gavet (Bulldogs), Anthony Gelling (Wigan), Sosaia Feki (Sharks).
The Warriors have phoned a Friend for 2012 (zing!) but otherwise coach McClennan seems quite content to keep rolling out 7ft tall, 120kg twenty year olds who run like the wind. Beware.
Additions: Cory Paterson (Knights – mid Season), Kane Linnett (Roosters), Luke Harlen (Northern Pride), Robert Lui (Wests Tigers).
Losses: Willie Tonga (Eels), Leeson Ah Mau (Dragons), Will Tupou (Rugby Union), Clint Amos (retirement).
Recruited a dose of bad karma with Robert Lui and have swapped Willie Tonga for Kane Linnet. Apart from this they have pretty much circled wagons for this year and would hope their dynamic JT and Bowen duo can provide the magic off their sizey pack. Also Tariq Sims to wipe all memory of Ashton Sims from people’s minds.
Additions: Chris Sandow (Rabbitohs), Ben Roberts (Bulldogs), Esi Tonga (Titans), Joseph Paulo (Panthers – mid season), Taulima Tautai (Sharks), Willie Tonga (Cowboys), Jamil Hopoate (Sea Eagles), Jon Mannah (Sharks).
Losses: Jeff Robson (Sharks), Anthony Mitchell (Roosters – mid season) Paul Whatuira (retirement), Joel Reddy (Wests Tigers), Chris Walker (released), Chris Hicks (retirement), Carl Webb (retirement), Tom Humble (Wests Tigers), Daniel Tupou (Roosters), Etu Uaisele (Panthers), Manase Manuokafoa (Bradford), Daniel Mortimer (Roosters).
Stephen Kearney gets to put his stamp on the side by clearing out the Parra pension party and getting his hands on his players of choice. Kearney obviously has an acquired taste, as Chris “six million dollar man” Sandow and Ben “reliable as Wikipedia” Roberts don’t seem to shout out Melbourne Storm-style attention to detail.
Throw in Esi Tonga and Tautai and either the man is a visionary, or seeking a Chapel St latte ASAP!
Additions: Junior Vaivai (Rabbitohs – mid season), Geoff Daniela (Panthers), Clint Newton (Hull KR), Chris Armit (Bulldogs), Cameron Ciraldo (Knights), Danny Galea (Raiders), Ryan Simpkins (Tweed Heads), Etu Uaisele (Eels), Junior Tia-Kilifi (Bulldogs).
Losses: Timana Tahu (Knights), Trent Waterhouse (Warrington), Frank Puletua (retirement), Shane Elford (retirement), Joseph Paulo (Eels – mid season), Matthew Bell (Wests Tigers), Petero Civoniceva (Broncos), Adrian Purtell (Bradford), Dane Laurie (Knights).
New Penrith Grand Poobah Phil Gould loves a gamble but, after being linked to everyone in the off-season, the Panthers have ended up with a pair of sevens rather than a royal flush. That’s not saying there won’t be value for them down the river, but the team is looking decidedly journeyman like for round one.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Additions: Matt King (Warrington), Luke Burgess (Leeds – mid season), Ryan Carr (Redcliffe), Justin Hunt (Redcliffe).
Losses: Chris Sandow (Eels), Junior Vaivai (Panthers – mid season), Shannan McPherson (Salford), Luke Stuart (retirement), Beau Falloon (Titans), Rhys Wesser (retirement), Ben Ross (Sharks).
Have brought Matt King back from the English Super League so should at least have a presence on the Footy Show. Trial form has been patchy, which means they’re probably set for a crack at the top four.
In saying that, a halfback and less time in the casualty ward would probably be a big help for the Bunnies and silence the “LOL Souffs” brigade.
St George Illawarra Dragons
Additions: Chase Stanley (Storm), Will Matthews (Titans), Jeremy Latimore (Warriors), Reece Simmons (retirement – mid season), Leeson Ah Mau (Cowboys), Daniel Vidot (Raiders), Josh Miller (Raiders), Atelea Vea (Storm), Denan Kemp (Rugby Union), Ray Cashmere (Salford),
Losses: Darius Boyd (Knights), Jack Bosden (Roosters), Jon Green (Sharks), Mark Gasnier (retirement), Peni Tagive (Roosters), Alex McKinnon (Knights), Jon Green (Sharks), Adam Cuthbertson (Knights).
The Dragons new additions look like a role call from a cheesy sports movie. There’s the injury prone, the bad attitude, the speedster, the hard nut and the journeyman. All that’s missing is the crusty old coach. The new Illawarra Cutters team will be happy with a lot of these buys anyway.
Additions: Anthony Mitchell (Eels – mid season), Jack Bosden (Dragons), Peni Tagive (Dragons), Daniel Tupou (Eels), Adam Henry (Warriors), Josh Ailaomai (Knights), Daniel Mortimer (Eels), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Otahuhu, NZ).
Losses: Nate Myles (Titans), Mark Riddell (retirement), Daniel Conn (retirement), Kane Linnett (Cowboys), Phil Graham (Titans), Todd Carney (Sharks), Anthony Watts (Widnes), Jason Ryles (Storm).
The chooks went from the penthouse to the outhouse last year, and now seem to have their sights firmly set on the middle floor with some yawn-inducing signings.
Daniel Mortimer replaces Todd Carney as the club’s feel-good headline winner and Brian Smith would be hoping young guns like Tautau Moga and Martin Kennedy stay on the straight and narrow – and out of the Coogee Bay Hotel.
Additions: Adam Blair (Storm), Joel Reddy (Eels), Matthew Bell (Panthers), John Grant (rugby union), Tom Humble (Eels), Jack Spencer (Salford), Dane Chisholm (Storm).
Losses: Bryce Gibbs (Sharks), Andrew Fifita (Sharks), Mark Flanagan (St Helens), Jason Cayless (retirement), Taniela Tuiaki (retirement), Geoff Daniela (Panthers), Jason Schirnack (Mackay), Robert Lui (Cowboys).
As usual the Tigers have showed great creativity in their signings with a convert, some dark horses and a superstar all turning out for Super Coach Sheens.
These players should help round out an already strong squad, especially once all the other players start talking to Adam Blair and inviting him to team dinners at Ro.