NRL pre-season power rankings

Josh Wye Roar Pro

By Josh Wye, Josh Wye is a Roar Pro


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    Only a few morning training sessions in the extreme heat and a small tournament in Auckland before the first Steeden is kicked off on a Thursday night.

    Before the season starts, let’s power rank the 16 teams.

    These power rankings are merely an opinion and a fun read, nothing more. So where would you rank the teams?

    1. Sydney Roosters
    The Roosters are the reigning premiers and the team to beat.

    They have retained the services of Sonny Bill Williams and are primed to win it all again.

    The halves combination of James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce will only get better in year two.

    No team has won consecutive titles since Brisbane in 1992 and 1993 (excluding Super League) so it is a tough ask.

    The key though is keeping Danny Weidler away from SBW’s locker. You’re creeping him out Danny.

    2. South Sydney Rabbitohs
    The Rabbitohs have lost plenty of depth through various player movements and retiring players but having four healthy Burgi (the plural of Burgess) gives them a monster pack.

    The addition of Joel Reddy should not go unnoticed either.

    Adam Reynolds will need to take that extra little step towards elite to give Souths their best chance of lifting that trophy.

    3. Melbourne Storm
    When a team has the big three in it they automatically deserve a top three position.

    The loss of Brett Finch is huge… sorry, scratch that, the loss of Gareth Widdop hurts but Melbourne has the ability to make it work with the personnel around the Queensland stars.

    Add in big Georgie Rose you might have the huge four.

    4. Manly Sea Eagles
    Manly have signed a bunch of fringe players and dead weight from other clubs but they did that last season and made the grand final.

    When you have two great young halves in Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans you will always be in finals contention come Round 26.

    I hate putting Manly this high because I hate Manly, doesn’t everyone?

    5. North Queensland Cowboys
    Two consecutive years the Cowboys have been duded by a poor referring decision in key moments in the final series and with Johnathan Thurston now into his 30s, that window of title glory is closing fast in North Queensland.

    The loss of Matt Bowen is huge but Lachlan Coote should fill that void.

    Neil Henry is gone finally as well, but the news of that might not have reached mainland Australia yet…

    6. Penrith Panthers
    Whaaaaat!? The Panthers have jumped to six after finishing tenth.

    Why? Well they have recruited very well and the latest signing in Jamal Idris may be the final piece of the puzzle.

    Add in Elijah Taylor, Brent Kite, Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace to an already impressive squad with players like Adam Docker and James Segeyaro and the Panthers will be pushing a top-four spot in 2014.

    Phil Gould might finally change his saying to “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!”

    7. Cantebury Bankstown Bulldogs
    Any team coached by Des Hasler should be making the top eight every year.

    However the loss of troubled superstar Ben Barba leaves a gaping hole in the Bulldogs’ backline.

    We know what their pack can achieve but some help for Josh Reynolds is needed in attack.

    Doggies fans will really miss Kris Keating… please do not think I am serious about that in any way.

    8. New Zealand Warriors
    The Warriors got very hot in the back end of the 2013 but in typical New Zealand style they blew it with losses to St George and Penrith in late crucial rounds.

    Shaun Johnson is an excitement machine and with the addition of Sam Tomkins the Warriors should be one of the top scoring teams in the league.

    They just need to hang on to the bloody ball. Am I right Manu Vatuvei?

    9. Newcastle Knights
    After a ruthless offseason that was packed full of controversy, the Knights will turn their attention to the 2014 season.

    Danny Buderus has been and gone and Kurt Gidley will take the reins.

    How many games will he last before he aggravates his ankle, shoulder, groin, head or hamstring injury? I set the over/under for 14 games this season.

    It is that injury that and the Origin season that leaves the Knights one spot from making the eight.

    10. St George Illawarra Dragons
    The St George, despite losing some key playmakers and the sexiest man in league (there is still Dan Hunt right?) to retirement, the Dragons have recruited very well.

    The addition of Sam Williams and Gareth Widdop has formed a very young and impressive spine with Josh Dugan and Mitch Rein.

    This young spine may take a while to get going in 2014 leaving them just short by season’s end but in a great spot to challenge the top four in future seasons.

    11. Brisbane Broncos
    Brisbane have been blessed by Channel Nine with a favourable schedule.

    It seems Queensland get lucky with a lot of things *cough, Origin, cough*.

    The addition of Barba (Marmin, that is) should bolster the young and dynamic backline of the Broncos that are still trying to find their next Darren Lockyer.

    Who will step up and be like Locky?

    12. Gold Coast Titans
    The Gold Coast must have had the most boring offseason in recent memory, literally nothing has happened except the gave away Jamal Idris for Brad Tighe.


    There is the usual ‘Dave Taylor has lost weight’ storyline but we all know that after a few preseason victories he will smash out a carton of XXXX Gold and a tonne of meat pies.

    Young halves Albert Kelly and Aidan Sezer are the future but they don’t have much fire power in that backline.

    13. Canberra Raiders
    The biggest highlight of the Canberra Raiders season was a pineapple cruiser on the roof of Josh Dugan’s place as the Raiders finished 13th.

    Having lost a few players and some contract disputes involving Anthony Milford they remain at 13th on the rankings.

    Canberra has been raving about Ricky Stuart’s return home but league fans will know Ricky has failed at Cronulla, Parramatta and NSW so I hope Canberra enjoy a few more seasons at the bottom of the ladder.

    14. Wests Tigers
    There is good news and there is bad news for the Tigers in 2014. Which one do you want first?

    I will start with the bad news – they took a Stephen Kearney approach to recruitment and signed a bunch of retirees; Pat Richards and Dene Halatau. Really guys?

    The good news is that 99% of the off-field/ego problems were solved when Benji Marshall made that Academy Award winning home movie announcing he signed to play for the Auckland Blues.

    15. Cronulla Sharks
    I wouldn’t look too much into Paul Gallen exploring other sporting options this year… Actually I would take that very seriously.

    All the dramas from last year showed the immense resilience of that football side but to do it again in 2014 without Shane Flanagan will be tough.

    I really hope I am wrong on this one.

    16. Parramatta Eels
    If bringing a guy that happens to be very close to the big man upstairs is their biggest hope, they have to be smack bang down the bottom in these rankings.

    Eels fans and players’ best tactic this year is to pray for a few wins and a full season out of Jarryd Hayne or maybe that Cronulla get their points stripped.

    Their first prayers were answered when the devil Ricky Stuart told Matt Keating to find a real job, Nathan Peats gives them a far better option from dummy half.

    Have I been to generous to some teams and harsh on others?

    Follow Josh on Twitter @joshwye

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    The Crowd Says (54)

    • January 27th 2014 @ 10:05am
      Schuey said | January 27th 2014 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      We like being hated Josh. Go Manly.

      • January 28th 2014 @ 8:21am
        Mals said | January 28th 2014 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        Indeed fans hate us because we consistently win footy games. Don’t want to go back to Northern Eagles days when the hate had turned to pity. Hands up who has hated the Eels over the past 3 years??

      • Roar Pro

        January 28th 2014 @ 12:25pm
        Hutchoman said | January 28th 2014 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        Agreed. The more they hate us, the better we’re playing. GO MANLY !!!

        • Roar Pro

          January 29th 2014 @ 1:24pm
          Josh Wye said | January 29th 2014 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

          Hutchoman and Schuey. I don’t really hate Manly at all. I have just been told to hate Manly because they were the silvertails. What they did last year with their signings (all club rejects, no big names) was amazing.
          The only thing i hate is that Jamie Lyon wont play for NSW. Hate that! Your state needs you!!

    • January 27th 2014 @ 10:13am
      Blaze said | January 27th 2014 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      I think the tigers made a good decision with taking on board some older blokes… Most the team are basically just out if the under 20’s and the team desperately need some experience for the young blokes to learn from.. I wouldn’t expect much from them this year, but next year it may pay off…

    • January 27th 2014 @ 10:14am
      Pot Stirrer said | January 27th 2014 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      A little genorous to the cowboys, they are the games biggest under achievers and losing Bowen is a bigger loss than i think most realise along with a new coach who has to answer to JT is a recipe for disaster

    • January 27th 2014 @ 10:38am
      nathan said | January 27th 2014 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      Sharks have been fined, unless appeal is upheld, why strip a team of points who 85% of playing roster wasnt there in 2011!!!

      • January 27th 2014 @ 11:59am
        Marldon said | January 27th 2014 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        Did the writer mention stripping of points ?

        Don’t think he did just reflecting on how he and many others think the shonkies will perform next season. Its back to their customary position on the ladder I think.

        Thought he was harsh with the eels though, with sticky gone, they should go much better in 2014. Conversely, the green machine are in for a very rough time for their acquisition of the same. Is it time for sticky to finally come unstuck and everyone see him for what he is ? A really useless coach.

        • January 27th 2014 @ 12:03pm
          Muzz said | January 27th 2014 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          How do you see your team the Dragons going this year???

          • January 27th 2014 @ 12:12pm
            manlyman101 said | January 27th 2014 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

            Muzza your hilarious mate. Your shambles of a club rorts the entire game and you think you can throw jabs at other people’s teams because of it. 12th in 2012 remember that

            • January 28th 2014 @ 12:28pm
              Pot Stirrer said | January 28th 2014 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

              Ah, i always get a laugh out of your posts. Just makes my day knowing how much losing that GF after leading
              hurts you. Just a shame i actually like Manly otherwise it would be rather easy to point out the flaws in your comments/club.

          • January 27th 2014 @ 12:40pm
            Muzz said | January 27th 2014 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

            Come on don’t be ashamed of your team….Things are looking up for the Dragons and they should finish around 11th this year.If Cronulla get through this mess and I HOPE THEY DO they will leave the Dragons in their wake.

            I think Manly are my favourites to win it this year.Great roster and the best coach in the competition : ))) and i think Parra should move up the ladder 13th.

            Tigers and Raiders to battle it out for the spoon…

            • January 27th 2014 @ 5:24pm
              Marldon said | January 27th 2014 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

              Raiders definitely for the spoon, Tigers will do well without benji to hold them back, warriors to win it, dragons will benefit from having Widdop and the Eels will improve tremendously now they have got shot of sticky, storm will be top 4 but anything else will be down to luck, roosers will go well but no back to back, souths top 8 but won’t go as far as last year.

        • January 27th 2014 @ 2:05pm
          nathan said | January 27th 2014 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

          Yes marldon he wrote in the parramatta summery read the whole article goose

        • January 29th 2014 @ 7:16am
          Nemo ohh ha ha said | January 29th 2014 @ 7:16am | ! Report

          Yes he did Galdron. Read the parramatta bit at 16th

    • January 27th 2014 @ 11:25am
      Scrubbit said | January 27th 2014 @ 11:25am | ! Report

      I think you’ve been generous to the cowboys and warriors and maybe a little harsh on the sharks.

      The cowboys haven’t recruited much while losing a club legend in Bowen, and I’d say they’ll struggle to make 8. The warriors seem to have done a Brisbane and replaced one of their best players (Locke, Hoffman) with another (tomkins, barba) the difference being that tomkins is untested in the nrl. I think they’ll do their usual of a poor start, win six straight, lose six straight, need 2 wins from the final three matches and lose the easier two matches.

      The sharks on the other hand have the same squad as last year and other than Gal nobody important is in drug danger. Gal only played two thirds (I think he only ended up playing in 16 nrl matches because of injury and an origin suspension?) and they still played very well. Like manly the sharks seem to always win the games they should win against the lower/out of form teams while they can put up a fight against the top teams.

      • January 27th 2014 @ 12:01pm
        Marldon said | January 27th 2014 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

        Warries are the ones to worry about in 2014, I think they will be top 4 and might even take out the big one.

      • January 29th 2014 @ 1:20am
        Adrien said | January 29th 2014 @ 1:20am | ! Report

        Warriors lost Kevin locke ??

        • Roar Pro

          January 29th 2014 @ 8:20am
          Josh Wye said | January 29th 2014 @ 8:20am | ! Report

          They still have Kevin Locke, but Tomkins is a specialist fullback.

          • January 29th 2014 @ 1:01pm
            Adrien said | January 29th 2014 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

            As is locke isn’t he? Which position could he play then? Maybe they could use him as a dynamic replacement hooker like the roosters did with mortimer this year. Well that’s the only solution I see unless they play tomkins at 6 and use leuluai at replacement hooker but I honestly thought he was one of the best last year and his combination with Johnson in the halves is a really interesting one.

            • Roar Pro

              January 29th 2014 @ 1:18pm
              Josh Wye said | January 29th 2014 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

              I have been hearing that Locke may be playing five eight. Leuluai would most likely then be the utility player, he can play hooker. Warriors are definitely a team to watch this year.

              • January 29th 2014 @ 2:14pm
                Adrien said | January 29th 2014 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                Once again I’ll be cheering for them from the other side of the world and wait until 5am on Sundays to watch their games commentated by Andrew voss… but once again I might be disappointed when september comes if they cannot find some structure in their game. Anyway I can’t wait to see how tomkins goes and which mateo we will get this year.

    • January 27th 2014 @ 11:29am
      DubbleBubble said | January 27th 2014 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      Sharkies to come 15th after just falling short of a semi-final berth last year?

      • January 27th 2014 @ 12:02pm
        Marldon said | January 27th 2014 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        Yep, the poster was being generous.

        • Roar Guru

          January 27th 2014 @ 1:18pm
          Renegade said | January 27th 2014 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

          Yeah I think the poster is using some of that Blue magic, that you’re on 😛

          • January 27th 2014 @ 6:17pm
            Marldon said | January 27th 2014 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

            a reluctant assistant coach with no ambition and nothing to prove in charge, likely to lose captain boofhead at some point during the season, further disruption with interviews and revelations during the year. More legal distractions as banned former shonkies players seek reparations for loss of reputation and lost wages from the sharks. All conducive to delivering a shonky performance in 2014. I expect Captain Boofhead to take out a multi million dollar law suit on his own as he will claim lost future earnings in sponsorship and maybe even a sports commentry career. Yep lots of blue magic there for shonky fans with their heads in the sand to continue blowing at anyone telling it as it is.

            • February 22nd 2014 @ 10:25am
              Football_illiterate said | February 22nd 2014 @ 10:25am | ! Report

              Christ your drivel is tedious, you make oikee seem like Stephen hawking! I can’t believe they don’t have a block button here yet.