2017 ladder predictions (Part 2)

Josh Allerton Roar Guru

56 Have your say

    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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    The Crowd Says (56)

    • Roar Rookie

      February 28th 2017 @ 6:49am
      SSTID_1970 said | February 28th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      Irrespective of where they all finish, Souths with finish on top of the Roosters (certainly), Warriors and Broncos. Unless there is a massive injury toll that derails their chances.

      • February 28th 2017 @ 6:52am
        Jeff dustby said | February 28th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

        Incorrect , you’ve managed to go back to your home out of the 8 after a few years playing finals

      • Roar Rookie

        February 28th 2017 @ 8:54am
        eels47 said | February 28th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Not too sure about that SSTID. The Warriors are a real dark horse this year (sigh, we say that every year). The addition of Foran is potentially jus what they need to reach their potential. Teams are often rated on their spine, and the Warriors possibly now have the best in the league. And the Roosters will finish higher than the Rabbitohs regardless in my opinion, they are a potential top 4 side. They are good across the park and will take some beating this year. The Broncos, well I am one of those who believe they may drop out of the 8, so I will give you that one.

    • Roar Guru

      February 28th 2017 @ 7:51am
      Magnus M. Østergaard said | February 28th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      I would probably swap the Cowboys and Raiders. Panthers are also the team this year that seem to be most threatened by injuries derailing their season.

      • Roar Guru

        February 28th 2017 @ 8:05am
        The Barry said | February 28th 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        When aren’t they?

        • Roar Guru

          February 28th 2017 @ 8:13am
          Magnus M. Østergaard said | February 28th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

          Well this is this every 2nd year curse year. 10th/4th/11th/6th/This year.

          • Roar Guru

            February 28th 2017 @ 8:17am
            The Barry said | February 28th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

            Yeah true.

            But they’ve trotted out the injury curse excuse for 2014, 15 & 16 so even in their good years they don’t mind throwing it out there…

            • Roar Guru

              February 28th 2017 @ 8:29am
              Magnus M. Østergaard said | February 28th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

              Good point but 3 ACL injuries to start a season is not a good sign.

              • Roar Guru

                February 28th 2017 @ 10:17am
                The Barry said | February 28th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

                Make that 14/15/16/17…?

    • Roar Guru

      February 28th 2017 @ 8:22am
      The Barry said | February 28th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      I really enjoy watching the Panthers go round. Good attacking footy and almost every player is an entertainer in their own right.

      The hype machine is working overtime on these guys this preseason though.

      I don’t want to be death riding them because it will be great if they make the eight but it’s getting close with them getting shoved in my face every day.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 28th 2017 @ 8:55am
        eels47 said | February 28th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        Try living and working in Penrith mate….. Sometimes you would think they had already won the competition this year, and the season is just there for entertainment.

      • February 28th 2017 @ 1:00pm
        Herman Hoth said | February 28th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

        Why no love for the Bulldogs this preseason Baz? Behind the Cowboys they’re my favourite team. Always play with passion, enthusiasm and have some of my favourite players. With that pack, both Morris brothers (honorary Queenslanders in my book) in the backline as well as some other handy players they should be there abouts again. They just need a hooker like Ennis that can provide them with some direction, and take a bit of short range kicking pressure off both the halves. Woolford is meant to be some kind of wunderkind right? Do you see him playing a role early on this year if Lichaa fails to cut the mustard?

        • Roar Guru

          February 28th 2017 @ 4:21pm
          The Barry said | February 28th 2017 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

          Plenty of love – just downplaying a bit.

          Anyone making grandiose statements about how good their teams are going to be is playing with fire.

          If the Dogs come out playing like they did at the end of last season, it will be a long year.

          If the forwards can get out of the way and Des lets Reynolds, Mbye and Lichaa run the show who knows.

          I think Lichaa is better than he’s been allowed to show. One of the things I like to see from a dummy half is his first movement. Does he pass straight away, does he go the right way, is he engaging defenders, is he overplaying his hand. Cameron Smith is the best example and almost always picks the right option.

          Farah is an interesting example because when he’s good he’s very, very good but it’s usually what’s going wrong when he’s not playing well.

          When Lichaa started at the Dogs and the bit I saw at the Sharks, I thought he was very good in this area. Instinctively he’s a good player but he’s been coached to just shovel the ball (not his strength), not run and not kick.

          Not only does it not show his best but puts pressure on the blokes outside him when they know he’s going to pass every time.

          Long winded answer to a simple question…?

          • March 1st 2017 @ 9:47am
            Herman Hoth said | March 1st 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

            Cheers for the detailed reply Barry much appreciated. I tend to agree with you. I’m not expecting anything too flash from the Cowboys, and am anticipating a finish between 5th-8th. Could finish higher depending on a few factors. Yeah I notice that with Granville when he jumps out of dummy half he usually tries to commit one or two middle defenders and then passes the short ball to a forward who will usually make extra meters due to the fact that there’es generally only one initial defender and the other ones arrive after first contact. Results in a few extra meters every run. It will be good to see whether Lichaa implements little tricks like what you mentioned this year.

    • February 28th 2017 @ 9:35am
      kk said | February 28th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      If the Broncos entice Ben Te’o to the team you can move them into the top 4.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 28th 2017 @ 9:48am
        Joe said | February 28th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        He is killing it in Union and for England. Would be a very big offer to get him to come over at this stage but yes, he would be a big plus to any NRL team.

      • February 28th 2017 @ 9:55am
        Jim said | February 28th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        If teo moved back he’ll be unfit for a season after 3 years in rugby fat camp

      • Roar Guru

        February 28th 2017 @ 11:01am
        Epiquin said | February 28th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        Broncos deadset have a bottomless salary cap.

        • February 28th 2017 @ 12:36pm
          Dean - Surry Hills said | February 28th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

          It’s not a cap – It’s a sombrero with an inverted umbrella fixed to it’s peak.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 28th 2017 @ 9:46am
      Joe said | February 28th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      Before the season started I had very high hopes for the Melbourne Storm and could easily see them at the top again after 26 rounds. Now I’m not so sure. Proctor gone to Titans, Harris out for the first 8 weeks and Billy as well. Storm usually start the season very strongly with a high win rate but I think all these changes have left the team with too many holes to fill and they do have a tough start to the season against several top 8 sides. I see them struggling early then Origin will hit when Harris/Slater are on deck and then they’ll be playing catchup at the end of the season so if they make the top four I’ll be very surprised. I think the Roosters will likely be in the top four…too much quality across the park and a lot of motivation after last year. I think the Dogs will be in the 8. Des has made the required attacking changes, Lichaa is running the ball, halves are controlling the game and the Morris boys are finally fully fit. Big forward pack that didn’t let them down last year and look fitter this year (Klemmer, Kasiano). I have question marks on Panthers, Broncos, Warriors and even Raiders after their 44-0 thrashing by the Knights at the trials. Even if it is a trials they did have some top line players playing and 44-0 thrashing by the supposedly wooden spooners should throw big question marks on them. No Croker and Paulo to start the season…if they get beat badly by the Cowboys in the first round they might lose a lot of confidence. To sum it up the top eight is wide open this year and there will be some very big surprise omissions come September.

      • February 28th 2017 @ 10:27am
        The eye said | February 28th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        If Belly can get this side into the top 4 it will be magnificent..you just cant lose and not adequately replace your international backrow,number 6 and a winger with the power of Koro and believe that history will get them home..good enough and disciplined enough for the 8..but for some clubs,like this one if its not top 4 its a bad year.

        Whereas last years grand finalists have had their rosters hearts pulled out from them,the Raiders look even stronger and harder while the Panthers combine with the Green Machine as the two most exciting and entertaining sides in the game.

      • February 28th 2017 @ 10:31am
        kk said | February 28th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        Good post Joe. The pleasure of seeing two fully fit Morris’ at work on their home track
        has been a long time coming. Hope the new attack formula bears fruit.

      • February 28th 2017 @ 1:09pm
        Herman Hoth said | February 28th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        Nice post Joe I completely agree regarding the Bulldogs. Hasler is one of the modern coaching greats and they have a great team. Whilst they admittedly underachieved in 2016, I guess to some extent you can say that any team that fails to make the grand final underachieves. Did the Cowboys underachieve? I believe they did in some regards, dropping games on the road that the team should have one. The difference between finishing 2nd and 4th would have been massive. Winning a opening finals game at fortress 1300 Smiles, resting for a week, and then having another game at the fortress before going to Sydney would have been very beneficial, assuming they won. Rather than travelling to Melbourne, home, then to Sydney to play the Sharks. Bit of a tangent but that’s devastating news on Slater mate I wish him a speedy recovery, I am very excited by the prospect of seeing the kid back in action at some point this season.

      • March 1st 2017 @ 9:10am
        Brendon said | March 1st 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        I’ve got to disagree there, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Melbourne start a year strong, bar the massive undefeated street they had. They tend to be slow, winning barely or losing, before coming into their stride after 3 or 4 weeks.

        I’m not completely sold on Slater either. Why would you not play your best fullback (Munster) and have Croft sit in at 5/8? It may be wishful thinking, but I reckon we may be seeing some deceit in the naming of the teams.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 1st 2017 @ 10:43am
          Joe said | March 1st 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

          The Melbourne Storm haven’t lost an opening game since 2003. The only time they’ve started slow (1/3) for the first three games in the last 10 years is 2008…they mostly start with a 3/3 record followed by a 2/3. The pre-origin period is their strongest as they know they lose a lot of players to Origin and usually build up a healthy buffer by then. I agree that in the absence of Slater, Munster should start at fullback but I think the management have banked on Slater not only coming back in the next few weeks but playing out the season so they want Munster to get used to playing 6. Also he has trained there all off season and Young played fullback several time last year. I think its a very high risk strategy that will not work out but hopefully it turns out to be a case of Bellamy knows best.

    • Roar Guru

      February 28th 2017 @ 11:05am
      Epiquin said | February 28th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

      I know this line seems to get trotted out at the start of every season to generate hype, but…

      This season is the hardest to pick ever!

      Seriously. There’s 5 or 6 teams that everyone is calling “favourite.” There’s another 4 or 5 teams that wouldn’t look out of place winning the title and teams that some are calling for the premiership, others are saying will miss the 8 entirely. There’s probably only 2, maybe 3 teams that you can definitely put a line through.

      What a season we have ahead. Get to the ground!

      • Roar Guru

        February 28th 2017 @ 11:20am
        The Barry said | February 28th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        Couldn’t agree more Epiq – well said!

        • Roar Guru

          February 28th 2017 @ 11:55am
          Epiquin said | February 28th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          Cheers Baz.

          I saw a heartfelt message from James Graham calling on doggies fans to come out and support them and there were a few commenters saying they weren’t renewing their memberships until they start winning games. The die-hards were letting them have it!

          • Roar Guru

            February 28th 2017 @ 1:05pm
            The Barry said | February 28th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

            Good stuff. I’m going on Friday night / afternoon. Need to sneak out of the office early though !

            • Roar Guru

              February 28th 2017 @ 1:09pm
              Magnus M. Østergaard said | February 28th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

              Ask your boss to wear Blue and White to Work!

              • Roar Guru

                February 28th 2017 @ 1:15pm
                The Barry said | February 28th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

                I’ll have it under my suit and tear my shirt open as I run through the revolving door in the lobby a la Clark Kent / Superman…

              • Roar Guru

                February 28th 2017 @ 1:32pm
                Epiquin said | February 28th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                Butchers and coppers have it pretty easy. Plus anyone working at Officeworks.

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