Where will your side finish in 2018? (Part Three)

83 Have your say

    With my predictions for the bottom eight now sorted, there are no prizes for guessing the eight teams I have selected to be still alive in September next year.

    But where exactly will they finish? Today I reveal the sides that will finish between fifth and eighth position.

    NRL 2018 ladder predction
    Ladder positions 16 to 13
    Ladder positions 12 to nine

    8th – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
    After an early exit in the 2017 finals series the Cronulla Sharks will be hoping that some fresh faces will be enough to catapult them back into title contention. The signing of Matt Moylan is an interesting one. The former Panther displayed glimpses of his enormous potential at the foot of the mountains, most notably in his one-man show at Bathurst in Round 14 against Canberra last year.

    However, Moylan does not yet have a developed long-range kicking game and is more suited to chiming in and out of play rather than controlling game management. Hence, if Cronulla are to push for another premiership, halfback Chad Townsend must step up in James Maloney’s absence as to allow Moylan’s natural abilities to shine. I am just not quite sure that Townsend can take ownership of his team.

    Josh Dugan’s arrival on the Shire offsets the departure of Jack Bird, and the former Dragon should add to an already threatening backline that includes Kangaroos sensation Valentine Holmes. While aging, Cronulla’s forward pack is dominated by representative footballers and remains an asset.

    Regardless, discipline is still the primary area of concern for Shane Flanagan’s men. Cronulla averaged the most errors and penalties conceded in the competition last year. The Sharks are still capable of a top-four finish, yet the Moylan-Townsend combination just does not fill me with enough confidence to predict immediate success.

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    7th – St George-Illawarra Dragons
    Paul McGregor’s men experienced a bitterly disappointing end to their 2017 campaign. However, wise purchases in the form of halfback Ben Hunt and international prop forward James Graham see them as a strong chance of featuring in next year’s finals series.

    St George Illawarra’s forwards were the primary reason for their improvement in 2017. The addition of Graham will bolster an already formidable pack that includes Jack de Belin, Tyson Frizell and the rapidly improving Paul Vaughan.

    Meanwhile, the acquisition of Hunt should provide the Red V with much-needed stability in the halves. Five-eighth Gareth Widdop is a talented player, yet during his time at the Dragons his development has been hindered by the lack of a defined halves partner. Hunt is in many respects a very similar player to Widdop, particularly in relation to his dangerous running game. The pair also possesses a strong kick game, and each player should complement the other well.

    With an exciting new halves pairing, powerful forward pack and solid backline, there is no reason why the Dragons cannot push for even a top-eight finish in 2018.

    (NRLPhotos/Gregg Porteous)

    6th – Penrith Panthers
    Will 2018 finally be the year that the Penrith Panthers take the next step towards being true premiership contenders? Anthony Griffin’s men entered the 2017 season burdened by high expectations. Unable to reach the lofty heights of premiership glory, the Panthers still remain a team of potential.

    Could the purchase of two-time premiership winner James Maloney be just what Penrith need to qualify for their first grand final since 2003? Maloney’s wealth of experience and game management seems ideal for Penrith’s current situation.

    The rapid rise of Nathan Cleary has been a joy to witness, with the young halfback becoming the youngest player to score 200-plus points in a season last year. However, with Maloney at five-eighth, Cleary will no longer have to shoulder full responsibility for Penrith’s attack.

    Up at the front, 2017 saw the emergence of Corey Harawira-Naera and sudden improvement of Reagan Campbell-Gillard. Conversely, experienced campaigners Trent Merrin and James Tamou were unable to provide the impact that their high salaries demanded. Bryce Cartwright also had a year to forget on and off the field in 2017. This season shapes as a critical year for the skilful forward, who has great potential yet is still burdened by inconsistency.

    Ultimately the Panthers will never be true premiership contenders unless they overcome key faults in their game. Griffin’s men missed the most tackles on average in the competition last year (32.9) and averaged the fourth-most errors (11.0). Until these old habits are resolved, Penrith will struggle to match it with the elite teams of the competition.

    (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    5th – Brisbane Broncos
    While the Broncos still possess a high-quality list, the loss of halfback Ben Hunt may prove more significant than first thought. Anthony Milford’s $900,000 price tag suggests that he is the one that must now shoulder the added responsibility. Milford is a brilliant player, yet he will need to aim for more consistency if he is to grow to become the dominant playmaker that Brisbane now need.

    Of equal concern is Brisbane’s losses up front. The departures of Adam Blair, Jai Arrow and Herman Ese’ese will require fresh faces to step up in their absence. Matthew Lodge returns to the NRL for the first time in four years – a significant period away from the game. Coach Wayne Bennett will need Lodge to undertake the enforcer role previously held by Adam Blair, yet there is no guarantee that he will be the solution.

    Brisbane’s other big name recruit is NSW Blues representative Jack Bird. Bird is a highly versatile player who may prove to be worth $1 million a year. However, he is simply not worth that much playing in the centres, where his impact is limited. If the Broncos are to get the most out of Bird’s purchase, his future is as a ball-playing lock.

    The Broncos should figure in the top eight once more, yet they will need Milford and Nikorima to perform consistently if they are to challenge for a spot in the top four.

    Do you agree with my selections? Let me know in the comments below.

    Tomorrow I will reveal my predictions for the remaining four teams as well as my pick for the premiership for 2018.

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    The Crowd Says (83)

    • January 4th 2018 @ 7:04am
      BA Sports said | January 4th 2018 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      I think this could be the year the Bronocs drop back out of the eight.
      There have been chinks in the armor for a few years and they look vulnerable with the least depth i can recall seeing them with.

      Halves and Prop are the big worry and we have seen Boyd struggle to step up consistently when not surrounded by options.

      At the Dragons I can see a scenario where Dragons fans are unhappy with Graham – expecting the 2015 version of Graham which he no longer is.

      Cronulla need to realise Holmes is a winger. Moylan is there best fullback option.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 8:39am
        Peter Phelps said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        I think that Graham will give the Dragons some much needed fire in the belly and a hunger that has been missing for so long. His passion is infectious and a bit of passion will be good to see in the red V

        • Roar Guru

          January 4th 2018 @ 8:49am
          Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

          I agree that Brisbane may start to fade and a more significant drop than I have predicted would not surprise. As for the Dragons, I personally just think that Hunt and Graham are perfect additions that transform them into a Top Eight side and possibly even a Top Four hopeful. Hunt, as I have said, finally provides Widdop with a reliable halves partner while Graham’s passion should bring even more impact to the Dragons’ pack.

          It was certainly a pity that Cronulla missed out on Pearce. That would have pushed Moylan to FB and Holmes to the wing. It will be interesting to see whether Kyle Flanagan gets a run if the Moylan/Townsend starts to fail.

          • January 4th 2018 @ 9:30am
            BA Sports said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

            I think if the Dragons succeed this year it will be because of the leap forward in Widdop. Not that he has been bad, he has been steady, but he finally has a halves partner of quality, so he will hopefully step up (for Dragons fans)

            In 252 runs last year, James Graham busted just 13 tackles… That is a tackle bust every 19 hit ups – less than one a game. He averaged less than 10 metres per run.
            The much maligned Aaron Woods, averaged a tackle bust every 16 hit ups, made about 45 more yards per match and has the added offload advantage – Something like 39 more offloads and only one more error than Graham through the season.

            People are forgetting that the Bulldogs were dreadful last year and the aging Graham was part of the problem.

            • Roar Guru

              January 4th 2018 @ 10:27am
              Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

              Scotty brought up a good point that Widdop came very close to winning the Dally M when the Dragons were on a roll so I definitely do believe the strength of their halves is their best asset now. I admittedly didn’t pay very close attention to Graham last year so I’ll take your point there. In that case, the move may be just what he needs.

            • January 4th 2018 @ 1:52pm
              KenW said | January 4th 2018 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              As a Dragons fan I’m filled with doubt about Graham. For years he has been one of the most valuable players in the comp, passion exceeding his (considerable) talent. Last year though this seemed to be precisely what he lost.

              A defining image of his career for me is watching him chase across in cover on someone else’s miss – never a chance of stopping the try but motoring at 100% just to stop them going under the post. Or even just to make sure they had to run the whole way. You would see him do this sort of thing all the time.

              I saw him last year though (admittedly late, when all was a bit lost) miss his own tackle and then just drop his head, not even turning around to look yet alone take off after them.

              Hopefully he’s not done, and a change of environment does him well, he did have a decent World Cup campaign though.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 8:20am
      Greg Ambrose said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      Manly were keen to sign Corey Harawira – Naera and I’m glad they didn’t because we have enough players with names I can’t spell. On a more serious note I paid more attention to him after we didn’t get his signature out of interest and in the finals game the Pennies lost I can’t recall a player being smashed so often by great defence who were reacting to exactly the same play time and time again. I was amazed they kept going with this same move and it shows a weakness which I’m assuming will be looked at .

      Maloney could play a role here as he is a smart player in attack.

      I don’t believe the Sharks can win the comp and that’s what I thought about the Dogs last year. If the players start thinking that as the season progresses then it can be a long year. The Sharks and Broncos to miss the eight is my tip

      • Roar Guru

        January 4th 2018 @ 9:52am
        Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        Morning Greg. That is exactly why Maloney was bought – a lack of creativity in terms of set plays in attack haunted Penrith last year and the constant short balls to CHN was the perfect example. I felt bad for the bloke, he was dropping the balls but only because it was so predictable he was getting it that all the Broncos defenders rushed up on him. Maloney should add variation and most importantly direction within the opposition twenty. One of Penrith’s key issues last year was an inability to turn field position into points and Maloney, I believe, will really improve that. Both the Broncos and Sharks definitely could miss the eight. Picking the sides finishing from 4th to 9th was by far the hardest choices I had to make.

        • January 29th 2018 @ 1:53pm
          The Shafe said | January 29th 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

          Mr X, Enjoyed your series and quite confident you are pretty close all round. I agree that the Broncos could be one to fall badly but I think you (and many others) are underestimating the Sharks. Their pack is still solid and they have great skills in the backs. Definitely a top 4 prospect.

          Your top four, both Roosters and Storm will struggle to stay up there. Roosters will miss Pearce more then they realise. Cronk is awesome, but he’s not the best half for their club and won’t make a impact on culture quickly. Stand by for them to drop a few places in 2018. Storm will still be awesome and likely top 4, but the loss of Cronk will have some effect at the front end of the comp.

          6/7 clubs should be safe bets for the 8; Cows, Eels, Sharks, Storm, Easts, Panthers and likely also Broncos.
          6 clubs will struggle to be there; Titans, Dogs, Rabbits, Warriors, Wests Tigers, Raiders
          leaving 3/4 battling for the final 1/2 spots; Dragons, Eagles, Knights and maybe Broncos, with the Eagles under difficulties. Knights might get close but it will be an awesome effort to get into the 8. Best chance is Dragons so your 8 is on the money, perhaps with some shifting positions.
          Cows definitely the team to beat in 2018.

          • Roar Guru

            February 4th 2018 @ 11:24am
            Mr X said | February 4th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

            Glad to hear you enjoyed the series The Shafe! On the Sharks, it was a choice (putting them in eighth) I struggled to make. I definitely rate their forward pack very highly but as I have said in earlier comments, much will depend on whether Moylan and Townsend gel quickly. Townsend in particular will need to take control and I just don’t have enough confidence that that will happen.

            I really doubt the Roosters will drop out of the Top Four, don’t forget they have James Tedesco too and he, along with Cronk, Keary and friend form one of the best spines in the comp. A lock for the top four for mine.

            Out of all my predictions, if given the chance, I would probably boost the Titans up because the signing of Cartwright yesterday could be a massive success albeit a gamble given his off field issues and recent form. Brennan has recruited well. It is set to be a very tight comp.

            • February 4th 2018 @ 2:43pm
              the Shafe said | February 4th 2018 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

              Accepted, my view on the Roosters may have been tainted by some wishful thinking. However, don’t be shocked if they are lower than 2, even much lower (but still a lock for the 8). Cronk for Pearce isn’t the best exchange for the Roosters, might take until 2019 to ‘gel’.

              Isn’t the Cartwright move great news for the Titans? So glad for them, like the Knights they have done it tough and I think the area needs a strong club. Good luck to them, I do hope that they are fighting for the 8 by season’s end.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 8:34am
      Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      BA, I agree that 5th looks optimistic for the Broncos, given that list. Any significant bad luck with injuries and they could be several wins outside the 8.

      It will be a real credit to Bennett if he gets them better than making up the numbers in the finals.

      I think they will really feel Blair’s departure, and a Milford/Nikorima pairing doesn’t do it for me – adequate at best.

      • Roar Guru

        January 4th 2018 @ 8:51am
        Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:51am | ! Report

        I do agree that Brisbane are looking vulnerable this year and the Milford/Nikorima pairing concerns me too – I feel like they both lack a dominant kicking game. In saying this, for much of last year the Broncos still performed well with this pairing and while Hunt was at hooker, McCullough returns which is a big boost.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 12:17pm
          Dave_S said | January 4th 2018 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          Agree that a lot turns on McCollough. And if Lodge steps up, who knows …

      • January 5th 2018 @ 9:40am
        RM said | January 5th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        Broncos had significant bad luck with injuries for much of 2017 and still finished top 4. Milford, Hunt, McCullough and Boyd all missed significant parts of the season. Put your house on them making the 8 in 2018 – although I agree that once there it’s hard to see them making much of a dent in the finals.

        • January 5th 2018 @ 10:01am
          Gray-Hand said | January 5th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

          Just can’t see the Broncos not making the 8.
          If Lodge comes back in good form, then they could be a top 4 team. Their lack of a good option for the first hit up has been their main weakness for a couple of years now.

          • January 8th 2018 @ 9:44pm
            Jack said | January 8th 2018 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

            And have still made the finals each of those years – Broncos will be firmly inside the 8.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 8:49am
      Jacob said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      Penrith have stagnated under Griffin so far, i think they’ll struggle to make top 8 unless everyone around them bombs. Theyve had easy draws the last couple of years as well, dont think theyll be so lucky this year.

      • Roar Guru

        January 4th 2018 @ 8:56am
        Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

        As a Penrith fan, I don’t agree that they have stagnated per say. I would say that he has failed to transform them into premiership contenders yet. They finished in 6th in 2016 and 7th in 2017. They are decent results but nothing to get too excited about. The purchase of Maloney, in my opinion, despite his defensive flaws, is a good one that was needed. His game management is something Penrith were really missing with Moylan. I still feel, however, get a sense that Penrith will struggle to match it with the better teams and until they do that, a Top Four spot will continue to elude them.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 9:20am
          BA Sports said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

          I think this has to be Griffin’s last chance and anything less than a run deep into the finals will not be good enough to keep his job.
          The Panthers have lost Brennan, I believe they still have Ciraldo who had lower grade success with many of the existing crop of players. He will be busting for a first grade shot and the Panthers won’t want to lose him as well.

          • Roar Guru

            January 4th 2018 @ 9:54am
            Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

            If Penrith finish Top Eight, Griffin will keep his job. Simple. If they don’t make the eight, however, he could be in trouble. Personally, I would like a Top Four spot very soon because at the moment Penrith are making up the numbers in the finals. They just can’t compete with the top sides and will never win a premiership if they do not learn to do so.

            • January 4th 2018 @ 10:11am
              Jacob said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

              I think Griffin will stay regardless. They were looking to extend him in ’17 when they were still in the middle of their rot. AFAIK, hes there till 2020 now.

              • Roar Guru

                January 4th 2018 @ 10:18am
                Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

                Yep, re-signed until 2020 to the dismay of many Penrith fans… he is a solid coach who can continue to deliver top eight finishes but I doubt his ability to take Penrith to the next level they need to win a premiership.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 9:26am
          Jacob said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          They finished 2014 in 4th position under Cleary, with arguably a less talented roster. Their results the last 2 years need to be considered against their favourable draw

          • Roar Guru

            January 4th 2018 @ 10:02am
            Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:02am | ! Report

            I agree that they should be doing better given their circumstances. However, while their roster is better now, in 2016 and 2017 it was still nowhere near the quality of that of Melbourne, Brisbane, Cowboys, Cronulla. As a Penrith fan I can admit that much of our roster has been over hyped, they still lack the experience necessary to go all the way. I think more than anything they are taking much longer to develop than expected, so perhaps stagnated is the right word.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 1:34pm
        Greg said | January 4th 2018 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

        Griffin will stay because unlike Cleary Griffin does whatever Gus Gould tells him to do

    • January 4th 2018 @ 9:15am
      JohnnoMcJohnno said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      As a Dragons fan I’m pleased you have them in the eight. I just have no confidence that this will be reality. Yes Graham will improve the pack, but given Packer and Thompson have gone its not a huge improvement, and the pack was hardly the weak point anyway. The issues were the halfback (now hopefully fixed), the backline, and the coach. Compared to last year the backline has lost Dugan, retains an ageing Nightingale and it remains to be seen whether the defensive frailties of Nene MacDonald and Aitken have been addressed.

      • Roar Guru

        January 4th 2018 @ 10:07am
        Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

        The Dragons get a spot in the eight based off Hunt’s arrival more than anything as he should combine perfectly with the improving Widdop. Widdop has never had a long-term halves partner at the Dragons and Hunt should bring the best out of him as a result. I do agree with your concerns over your back line (my comment that their back line is potent in the article was my error – I did not realise until last night after I had submitted my article that their back five weren’t as good as I thought they were). If he can bulk up a bit Dufty looks very promising.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 11:06am
        Charles NSW said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:06am | ! Report

        You are right Johnno where the problems are except for the coach.
        Yes, he has made some mistakes but name a coach who does not in their early years of coaching

        He will improve but he really must address the backline for the Dragons to show what they can be capable of.
        We have some juniors who have the speed to boost our backline but will need to be given a fair go to what they can do.

        The halves have the potential to be the best in the competition, a fullback showing a lot of potential, our hooker will improve from last year and a forward pack that can hold their own.

        The Dragons have the potential to be in the top four but will need to do a lot of work in getting the team to the next stage.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 11:51am
          JohnnoMcJohnno said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          Hi Charles, I dont pretend to be a coaches a-hole, but what intrigues and frustrates me is that in his day MacGregor was a superb centre, and yet the backline continues to be a weakness. I dont know how many points were scored against the Dragons due to MacDonald coming in off his wing, or from bombs targetting Aitken, but it was substantial. These are things that you would hope the coach can address. Add to that the many games where the bench wasnt used to its full extent (irrespective of the state of the game) and I think the coach can justifiably be considered a weakness – based on last years performance.

          Will MacGregor learn and improve? I hope so, but it remains to be seen.

          • January 4th 2018 @ 12:22pm
            Charles NSW said | January 4th 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

            I felt the same as you and wondered why he did not experiment more?
            McDonald is more a centre, Aitken has not been fit and both need to work on their defence.

            McGregor needs to let the juniors coming up a chance to show what they can do and he needs to do that at beginning. From there he can make the necessary adjustment to get the best team possible.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 2:05pm
        KenW said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

        I’m with you most of the way (a little more confident perhaps) but would question you on an ‘ageing Nightingale’. He’s maybe lost a yard of speed but the skill and experience he brings in all other areas makes him the first picked in the 3/4 line for mine. He was hugely valuable for the Dragons last year.

        MacDonald’s defence is a worry – I wouldn’t even characterise it as bad decisions, it’s more like he just seems to zone out when defending. I’d rather have the smaller, potentially less potent (although quite adept at finding the tryline), Kurt Mann in there. Aitken had a very disrupted season last year, hopefully we see him mature but agree that he too can be a liability.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 2:25pm
          Charles NSW said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

          Nightingale is one the most valued players in the Dragons.
          As you have said Ken he maybe lost a yard of speed but the skill and experience he brings in all other areas makes him the first picked in the 3/4 line for mine.
          In searching for a better backline is there an opportunity to bring him into the centres to add more thrust.
          He has plenty of experience and knowledge having done well in both the wing and fullback roles.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 2:48pm
          BA Sports said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

          I got hammered in the preseason last year when some were suggesting MacDonald was a great pick up.
          As you guys rightly point out is defence is ordinary and he scored just 6 tries in 23 games as a big tall winger… Thompson scored 9 and Vaughan, a prop, scored 8! Even in Toyota Cup where he should have dominated for his size, he racked up 21 tries in his last 44 games over two years. Not a great return by u/20 standards. He is an average player at best.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 3:10pm
          JohnnoMcJohnno said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

          Not sure what to say about Nightingale but the fact that he is still one of our best backs says a lot about the state of our backline. Yes he has skills, yes he can still score tries. But in a backline not noted for any speed, a bloke losing a yard of pace is not a good thing. And unlike previous years, he didnt look much of a threat in broken play. Handy player but I hope we have a few more speedy backs coming through the ranks.

          • Roar Guru

            January 4th 2018 @ 3:12pm
            Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

            Nightingale is probably the winger in the NRL that you want taking intercepts if you are on the opposition team.

          • January 4th 2018 @ 10:45pm
            Kenw said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

            I think there’s two separate points there. Yes, the Dragons backline is on the slow side and more pace would be welcomed. Last year, Widdop was probably the fastest bloke in the team, he’s quick for a half but far from a speedster. This was improved considerably when Dufty took over from Dugan – that bloke can move. If Field also finds a spot then suddenly the picture changes and the Dragons are up there with the quickest teams.

            But let’s say Nightingale is replaced with Field and the Dragons become fast. Do they win more games? Speed is cool, speed is fun, speed gives an occasional long-range try that you wouldn’t otherwise get – but this isn’t touch footy or 9’s, there’s plenty of other RL skills and abilities that are more important than outright speed. Nightingale has loads of them.

            • Roar Guru

              January 4th 2018 @ 11:50pm
              Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:50pm | ! Report

              Evening Ken,
              I think the problem with Nightingale’s speed would be more defensive rather than an issue in attack. While he may be defending on the wing where defence is not as crucial, he is still at risk of being burned by his opposite man. His experience is definitely a key part of what he brings to the Dragons team but I do also understand concerns about him too.

              • January 5th 2018 @ 8:26am
                Kenw said | January 5th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

                I understand the point you’re making but it seems to me to be purely theoretical. Gypsy positions himself well and defends smartly.

                There was probably some instance last year of someone beating him with pace but I don’t recall it – if opponents were trying that as a gameplan they certainly didn’t get much joy from it.

      • January 5th 2018 @ 8:25am
        Adam Bagnall said | January 5th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        That ageing Nightingale scored a club high 16 tries in 2017. I’d much rather an ageing Nightingale than an injury-prone Dugan any day

        • January 5th 2018 @ 11:42am
          Charles NSW said | January 5th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          Early in the season I wanted to see Dugan replaced by Widdop and put someone like Mann at 5/8.
          I just felt Dugan role as fullback was not what the Dragons needed.

        • January 5th 2018 @ 12:24pm
          Bearfax said | January 5th 2018 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          I’m no Dragon supporter, but I’ve always considered Nightingale something special

          • January 5th 2018 @ 12:52pm
            Charles NSW said | January 5th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

            I agree!

            • Roar Guru

              January 5th 2018 @ 3:08pm
              Mr X said | January 5th 2018 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

              Given that Nightingale has played 10 years with the Dragons and no one else, I think that is why he is something special.

    • Roar Guru

      January 4th 2018 @ 9:49am
      Scott Pryde said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      I do think the Dragons will be in the 8 this year. Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop could be an extremely dangerous combination in the halves – you have to remember Widdop finished right up the top of Dally M last year and had a superb season.

      If he can retain that sort of form alongside Hunt, anything is possible.

      The more I think about it, the more I tend to think not having Dugan isn’t that bad either, so long as Mary picks Dufty and sticks with him. The kid is the next Billy Slater.

      Our pack was good last year – particularly for the first half of the season – I can see Graham giving us plenty there as well, while blokes like JDB and Ah Mau will only learn off an experienced player like that.

      Bottom half of the eight, but they will be there and abouts if they can stay fit and healthy.

      As for Brisbane – they didn’t impress me that much last year, despite where they finished. Really, no team were ‘good’ compared to the Storm, and I’m not sure they will go as well this season.

      Cronulla will probably be a few spots higher up in truth, and maybe Brisbane miss out for Manly.

      • Roar Guru

        January 4th 2018 @ 10:09am
        Mr X said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        Agree 100% with all your thoughts on the Dragons Scotty. Exactly my reasons for picking them in 7th. Brisbane and Cronulla admittedly could move around, both aren’t safe this year.

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