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All filler no killer: Four top teams just making up the numbers in 2018

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    Brisbane winger Corey Oates celebrates a try. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

    Related coverage

    Ever wondered what it feels like to support Everton in the English Premier League? To watch your team try hard, play well, but with no real prospect of winning anything? Well, for the fans of four NRL teams, you’re about to find out.

    Part 2 of this season preview series takes a look at four top NRL sides that are just making up the numbers.

    » Part 1: Four NRL coaches feeling the heat in 2018

    Parramatta Eels

    Key additions: Kane Evans, Jarryd Hayne
    Key subtractions: Semi Radradra, Isaac De Gois, Jeff Robson

    Reflections on 2017
    Coming off an absolute Kardashian of a campaign in 2016, Parramatta bounced back spectacularly last year. Sparked by the mid-season transfer of Mitchell Moses, the Eels were electrifying down the stretch and enjoyed their strongest season since the halcyon heydays of Hindmarsh and Hayne.

    Just how big an impact did Moses make? Before the former Tiger made the move along the M4, Parramatta had won five out of ten and were sitting ninth on the ladder. After the introduction of Moses, the Eels won 11 of their final 14 games and were considered legitimate contenders.

    But Moses wasn’t the only standout. Semi Radradra remained harder to bring down than Sydney house prices, Corey Norman continued his ascension into superstardom, and Nathan Brown proved that talent’s no match for hard work and dedication. In fact, had it not been for a serious injury to fullback Clinton Gutherson, Parramatta may have challenged Melbourne for the JJ Giltinan Shield.

    Outlook for 2018
    The Eels have a roster capable of qualifying for the finals in 2018. They boast one of the strongest halves pairings in the competition, game breakers along the backline, and a coach in Brad Arthur who will keep this squad focused and hungry. But they can’t improve on their fourth-placed finish from last season.

    The loss of Radradra will be massive. While the Eels are downplaying the impact of his defection, the former Kangaroo was the Parramatta attack at times last year. Semi’s 22 tries in 2017 accounted for 32 per cent of all Parramatta four-pointers, and his 27 line breaks made up 28 per cent of the team’s total. That kind of production is near impossible to replace or replicate, and expecting Jarryd Hayne to do so would be unfair.

    Speaking of Hayne, I wasn’t a fan of Parramatta’s decision to bring him back into the fold. Financially, the deal made sense, but much like Barnaby Joyce rocking up to a Paddington house party, Hayne’s the sort of cultural time bomb the Eels could do without. Hayne claims that his headline-hogging days are behind him, but he remains a magnet for negative publicity. I fear his distraction will eclipse his production.

    Jarryd Hayne training for Fiji

    (Photo: Martin Seras Lima)

    The other big area for concern is the number nine jersey. With no offence to Cameron King or Kaysa Pritchard, they’re only borderline first-graders. The pair have ability and potential, but both are inexperienced, uncreative and injury prone. Parramatta will be the weakest side in the competition at one of the game’s most important positions.

    Predicted finish: seventh

    Brisbane Broncos

    Key additions: Jack Bird
    Key subtractions: Ben Hunt, Benji Marshall, Tautau Moga, Jai Arrow, Herman Ese’ese , Adam Blair

    Reflections on 2017
    If you take Brisbane’s 2017 season at face value, it looks pretty good. The Broncos finished third on the premiership ladder. They had the competition’s second-best attack (632 points at 26.3ppg) and seventh-best defence (493 points at 20.5ppg). And they made it one game shy of the grand final, getting towelled up by the eventual Premiers. Sounds pretty decent right?

    For most clubs, this would be viewed as a successful season. But for the Brisbane Broncos, it was just another year without silverware. And that just isn’t good enough. For Brisbane fans, Premierships are like water – they’re essential to survival. So if you think the extreme drought gripping Cape Town is scary, it’s nothing compared to the dry spell that’s descended on Titletown.

    But last year wasn’t all bad for the Broncos. Far from it. Talented youngsters like Jai Arrow, Tautau Moga and Herman Ese’ese began to fulfil their considerable potential, Adam Blair discovered leadership skills he never knew he had, and Ben Hunt was a revelation at dummy half. Even Benji Marshall showed signs of life! I really look forward to watching the contributions these blokes make to the Broncos in 2018.

    Outlook for 2018
    As they do every season, the Broncos will again field a strong line-up in 2018. Brisbane’s spine will have a Maroon tinge to it, their pack will boast a couple of world-class back-rowers, and new signing Jack Bird will partner James Roberts to form the most dynamic and versatile centre pairing in the competition.

    But what else is new? With unmatched off-field resources, an enormous junior catchment and a coach with the pulling power of a BT-50, Brisbane is expected to excel. And they will. For the fourth consecutive season since Wayne returned to Bris Vegas, the super coach will lead his Broncos back to the finals. However, his roster doesn’t have the depth or quality to win the Premiership.

    Brisbane’s attack is overly reliant on moments of Anthony Milford magic. The mercurial playmaker can turn a match in the blink of an eye, but much like Jarryd Hayne or Greg Inglis, he’s also prone to drifting in and out of games. Milford will never be your prototypical Cronk or Thurston-like halfback who accumulates multiple touches per set, so he needs that steadying presence at halfback in order to be effective.

    Broncos player Anthony Milford

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    In the wake of Ben Hunt’s scheduled departure, Bennett had all the time in the world to plan for his replacement. And with an unprecedented pool of playmaking talent hitting the open market, there was never a better chance to solidify the game’s most important position. But instead of signing Pearce or Cronk, Maloney or Moylan, Green, Reynolds or even Robson, he hitched his wagon to an unlikely steed – Kodi Nikorima.

    There are questions around the depth of Brisbane’s forward pack, the injury cloud hovering over Darius Boyd, and whether Bennett has lost his edge. But those are all smoke screens and molehills. The real question is Nikorima. He’s good enough to help Brisbane qualify for the finals, but is he good enough to take them all the way?

    Predicted finish: fifth

    St George Illawarra Dragons

    Key additions: Ben Hunt, James Graham
    Key subtractions: Josh Dugan, Russell Packer, Will Matthews, Taane Milne, Josh McCrone

    Reflections on 2017
    It’s difficult to know what to make of St George Illawarra’s 2017 season. The bipolar Dragons rode a euphoric high to start the year, winning six of their first seven games and sitting atop the ladder. But then came a crash so spectacular that Salim Mehajer couldn’t have orchestrated it better himself. From Round 8 onwards, the Red V won only six of their remaining 17 games and finished the season in ninth position.

    While St George Illawarra fans are still seething about their club’s epic collapse, there were plenty of positives to take from another failed campaign. Thanks in large part to a bumper season from Gareth Widdop, the Dragons attack made dramatic strides.

    After spending several seasons struggling to post points, Paul McGregor’s men showcased a less structured and more productive offence. The new approach yielded an incredible eight more points per game compared to the previous season.

    St George Illawarra Dragons player Gareth Widdop

    (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Robb Cox)

    Defensively, St George Illawarra remained one of the competition’s stingiest units (18.8ppg – third in NRL). Led by the likes of Tyson Frizell, Jack De Belin and Cameron McInnes, the Dragons missed the fewest tackles of any team (541 – 22.5 per game) while also giving away the fewest penalties (130 – 5.4 per game).

    But ultimately, last season will go down as a missed opportunity. The Dragons played well enough to qualify for the finals but losing five games by six or fewer points will hang like a noose around Paul McGregor’s neck.

    Outlook for 2018
    I’m more optimistic than most about St George Illawarra’s prospects this season. The addition of Ben Hunt alongside Widdop in the halves, and the emergence of Matt Dufty at fullback, can only mean good things for their point-scoring potential. Josh Dugan’s stout defence will be missed, but there’s something about Dufty’s whippet-like frame and electric footwork that gets my rugby league juices flowing.

    While the loss of Russell Packer will sting, James Graham is a more than suitable replacement. The Englishman may be past his prime, but he brings with him a wealth of experience, an outstanding work ethic and the sort of natural leadership that you simply can’t teach. His presence both on and off the field will be invaluable to the ongoing development of the Dragons pack.

    But I’m still not sold on Paul McGregor. Now entering his fourth full season as coach of the Red V, the former Steeler boasts a Kearney-like 47 per cent win percentage and a single one-and-done finals appearance. For a high profile club like the Dragons and with the roster he’s had at his disposal, that’s not acceptable.

    St George Illawarra have too strong a squad and too favourable a draw (they play the Knights, Tigers and Warriors twice) to miss the finals. But once they get there, they’ll be less damaging than a Super Soaker in a firestorm. And with the club set to usher in a new chief executive at the end of the year, they’ll likely be looking for a new coach as well.

    Predicted finish: eighth

    Manly Sea Eagles

    Key additions: Lachlan Croker, Joel Thompson
    Key subtractions: Brenton Lawrence, Blake Green

    Reflections on 2017
    Watching Manly is a little like sitting through a Married at First Sight commitment ceremony – you tune in with extremely low expectations hoping to see a bunch of unlikeable lads get crushed. Because hey, it’s Manly. Only unlike the cultural apocalypse that is MAFS, the surprise packet Sea Eagles were a source of genuine entertainment in 2017.

    What was most shocking about Manly’s resurgence wasn’t their classy attack (23.4ppg – third in NRL) or their sixth-placed finish on the Premiership ladder. No, what struck me the most was the dramatic improvement shown by almost every individual player on their roster.

    Daly Cherry-Evans and Dylan Walker both returned to career-best form while the Trbojevic brothers announced themselves as genuine superstars. At the same time, unknown toilers such as Lloyd Perrett, Frank Winterstein and Brian Kelly established themselves as legitimate first-graders, Akuila Uate and Curtis Sironen were rescued from the rugby league wilderness, and big Marty Taupau finally spent more time on the field than in front of the judiciary.

    And all this with over $1 million worth of salary cap space unavailable through injury/retirement. Full credit to Trent Barrett and his staff for an outstanding season.

    Manly Sea Eagles NRL coach Trent Barrett

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Outlook for 2018
    I was excited to see what Manly had planned during the off-season. With a huge injection of salary cap space, an ascending coach in Trent Barrett, and a spine my chiropractor would be proud of, I figured Brookvale would be a desirable destination for players looking to relocate.

    But in the blink of an eye, everything changed. Reports surfaced of potential salary cap shenanigans, club legend Bob Fulton abruptly retired, and all of a sudden Manly were off-limits to potential free agents. With only a few weeks until the start of the season, Daly Cherry-Evans doesn’t have a recognised halves partner.

    So where does that leave Manly?

    The 2018 Sea Eagles are a lot like the 2017 Canberra Raiders, where a dramatic overachievement the previous season burdens the team with unrealistic expectations. But unlike the Raiders, Manly have a roster that’s equipped to handle the pressure. In Cherry-Evans and the Trbojevics, the Sea Eagles have a trio of talent that’s a step above anything the Raiders had on their roster.

    The biggest problem facing Manly is their depth. Injuries at key positions will cripple any team in the NRL, but nowhere is this more apparent than at Brookvale. If Cherry-Evans can stay healthy, Manly make the finals. If he misses significant time, then they can start planning for 2019.

    Predicted finish: sixth

    Look out next Monday for Part 3 of my season preview series, where we’ll check in on how the honeymoon period is progressing for four coaches and their new teams.

    Tom Rock
    Tom Rock

    A fair-weather Newcastle Knights fan, Tom doesn't leave anything on the field. He always gives 110% and never forgets to give full credit to the boys. But in a game of two halves, it's important not to look too far ahead, so Tom's just taking it one week at a time. Follow him on Twitter @_TomRock_.

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    The Crowd Says (86)

    • Roar Guru

      February 19th 2018 @ 7:11am
      The Barry said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      As an Everton supporter of 40 years I can tell you what it’s like.

      The start of every season brings hope that this will be the year we return to our glory days.

      By Christmas that hope is dashed and we’re battling to avoid relegation and all we’re left with is dreams of how dominant we were in the 80s.

      So, it’s a lot like being a Parramatta fan…

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2018 @ 7:23am
        Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        I support Liverpool so things aren’t much better on my side of the fence. We have more money, better players, higher expectations but exactly the same amount of silverware…brings a tear to my eye

        • Columnist

          February 19th 2018 @ 7:45am
          Stuart Thomas said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:45am | ! Report

          Two words Tom……West Ham!

          Great to have you back mate. An extensive off-season training and weights regime has seen your use of the simile soar to unrivalled heights. “Barnaby Joyce at a Paddington house party.” That is art.

          • Columnist

            February 19th 2018 @ 8:49am
            Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

            Thanks ST. Material on Barnaby seems to write itself.

            West Ham hey….you’ll be waiting longer than Barry.

            • Columnist

              February 19th 2018 @ 10:20am
              Stuart Thomas said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

              My heart just sank in the reality of your comment.

            • Roar Guru

              March 5th 2018 @ 3:41pm
              Con Scortis said | March 5th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

              I don’t know about West Ham, but if Banaby put a Vest on his Ham, none of this would have happened.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 8:06am
        Duncan Smith said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        I’m still waiting for QPR to recapture the glory days of 1975 …

        • February 19th 2018 @ 9:40am
          MAX said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report


          • February 19th 2018 @ 10:14am
            Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

            And me. Back in the days of huge side boards – Stan Bowles style. Bring it back. I had a soft spot for West Ham back in those days as well – Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Frank Lampard …. Good days.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 3:23pm
        E-Meter said | February 19th 2018 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

        Parramatta fan! Don’t I know it. Although I haven’t been optimistic at the start of the season since 1986.

    • Roar Guru

      February 19th 2018 @ 7:48am
      Michael Keeffe said | February 19th 2018 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      As a Broncos fan I was ready and primed to disagree with whatever you had written about them. But I fear you are right. Good enough to make the finals, not good enough to go all the way. I hope we’re both wrong, but I fear we are not. Strange as it is I think your predictions for these four teams are right. What is wrong with the world….

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2018 @ 8:56am
        Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

        MK, I’m not comfortable with people on this site agreeing with my opinions. But when it comes to your Broncos, I just can’t see them doing any damage this season. They just don’t have that same aura about them anymore – the sort of feeling that Melbourne have these days. They feel beatable.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 10:45am
          Nat said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

          After watching that trial, my heart sank with inevitability about the Storm. If that was a rusty first hit out it looks like Melbourne vs … again.

          • Roar Guru

            February 19th 2018 @ 11:05am
            Emcie said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

            On the other hand, they did show that they can be vulnerable early while they’re still getting into the grind. Croft looked promising but he’s sure to be targeted heavily over the season and it remains to be seen how he’ll deal with that. The Storm look very hard to beat on paper but some untimely injuries and bad luck could open up a few holes

            • Columnist

              February 19th 2018 @ 11:45am
              Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report

              The Storm have a handy replacement in Ryley Jacks if they need to give Croft a spell.

          • February 19th 2018 @ 2:23pm
            the Shafe said | February 19th 2018 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

            Rest easy Nat, Melbourne won’t be in the GF this year. While they will be extremely competitive, finish high in the ladder and have a few legends in the team, one element that compounds the difficulty of going back-to-back premiers is the world club challenge. No matter how professional you are, starting intensity (rusty though it might have been) that early and maintaining it through a year in the NRL is a huge ask.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 2:21pm
          Ehx said | February 19th 2018 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

          I’ll never agree with you Tom. You can always rely on me. Cheers

    • February 19th 2018 @ 8:04am
      Greg Ambrose said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      I was mocked for saying that Manly under Barrett and Hasler have so much in common a year or so back. One difference is after two years Barrett is ahead of Hasler but this doesn’t prove the third year will see a further improvement.

      Many clubs have isolated stellar years like the Raiders last year and instead of challenging for the next years title they fade away, I can’t recall Manly doing this in my time as a fan. Once they start heading up they end up usually winning a title or at worst in the early 80’s making a couple of GF’s . I’d like to think the trend will continue.

      I’m expecting a couple of forwards to step up to the plate and I’m hoping for a five eight and centre to emerge from the pack. If all goes to plan then a good year is very likely.

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2018 @ 8:52am
        Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Greg, I love your optimism. But Manly will be doing really well if they can just tread water this season. They remind me of a Jenga tower – all it will take is for the wrong block to be removed and the whole thing will come tumbling down.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 9:46am
          MAX said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          Next Saturday night should be an indicator when Easts v Manly, depending on who trials.

          • Columnist

            February 19th 2018 @ 9:49am
            Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

            Morning Max. I have to say that I struggle to retrieve any meaning from the trials. Without the full team on the paddock, they are just glorified training runs in which both sides are just praying to make it through without significant injury.

          • February 19th 2018 @ 10:08am
            Greg Ambrose said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

            Last season Manly beat Easts 3 times including the trial yet in 2013 we lost to Easts 4 times in the regular season including the GF where Shane Hayne was unlucky not to collect the Churchill medal. Trials don’t mean much. Roosters and Eagles is always a good game however.

            • Columnist

              February 19th 2018 @ 10:15am
              Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

              I love how you managed to take a pot shot at Hayne years after his retirement. So very rugby league. He’s probably crying into his cornflakes as we speak.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 10:01am
          Greg Ambrose said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

          Bozo has built the foundations of a new era Tom and that is cause for optimism. I’d be happy with treading water, a bit of Australian crawl, a near drowning or some butterfly as long as some younger players begin the climb and emerge to trouble the rep selectors in the near future.

          I’m expecting more consistency this year and that will be a big leap forward.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 11:17am
        Albo said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        I’m with you Greg. Not sure why a lot are death riding Manly ? Apart from the traditional reasons ! For me they just need to find a solid goer to settle in at 6 ( Hastings, Tom Wright or Croker maybe ? ) and another prop of quality, to be well in the running. They have a pretty solid foundation of ball handlers and leaders in DCE , Jake & Tommy Turbo & Api who can only get better this year. Taupau gives them plenty of go forward, but could use another prop partner, and their back row has been improved with the signings of Joel Thompson & Jack Gosiewski to add to the improving set of backrowers in Sironen, Lane & Winterstein. Walker when fit gives them spark out wide, and Kelly is another year wiser.
        With a reasonable run of injuries, I can see the Sea Eagles tough to beat this season.

        • February 19th 2018 @ 1:31pm
          Greg Ambrose said | February 19th 2018 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

          Jake, Turbo and Api are at the stage in their careers where they are still young but now have the experience to do the job. Losing Green is why Manly are on the outer with many but a far greater factor is that the rest of the players are generally young and still on the up. Jake is the type to lead the club to glory and bring the best out in his team.

    • February 19th 2018 @ 8:19am
      Nico said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      “Talented youngsters like Jai Arrow, Tautau Moga and Herman Ese’ese began to fulfil their considerable potential, Adam Blair discovered leadership skills he never knew he had, and Ben Hunt was a revelation at dummy half. Even Benji Marshall showed signs of life! I really look forward to watching the contributions these blokes make to the Broncos in 2018.”

      Um, none of these players listed will actually be lining up for Brisbane this year. Pangai junior and ofenhengaue still around though and hopefully they will come a bit more of age.
      On another note, I’m keen to see if they give Haas a decent crack at first grade and if he lives up to the hype. With Savelio gone for the season it might come sooner rather than later

      • February 19th 2018 @ 8:37am
        Gray-Hand said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        I’m looking forward to all the jokes that Roarers will miss in the coming season.

        • Columnist

          February 19th 2018 @ 8:50am
          Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 8:50am | ! Report

          My sense of humour isn’t for everyone.

          • February 19th 2018 @ 9:08am
            Duncan Smith said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

            Keep up your humour, Tom. Don’t dumb it down.

          • February 19th 2018 @ 9:32am
            rl said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            Adam Blair “leadership”? THAT is funny! I’ll say it (because you can’t Tom): Adam Blair has more cheap shots than a Spiro Zavos column!!

            • Columnist

              February 19th 2018 @ 9:47am
              Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

              Appreciate the simile RL. Although I’ll get out my ten foot pool and use it on the content.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 11:32am
                rl said | February 19th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

                Very wise Tom, if I was you I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pool or pole 🙂

          • Roar Guru

            February 19th 2018 @ 10:03am
            Nat said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

            Even I got that one.

          • February 19th 2018 @ 2:23pm
            Ehx said | February 19th 2018 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

            That’s for sure.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 9:36am
          The Barry said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          What was that whooshing sound…?

    • Roar Guru

      February 19th 2018 @ 9:32am
      The Barry said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      I think 2018 could do with a team or two from this group (or elsewhere) to have a good run.

      Most of the preview articles are tipping the Storm, Cowboys and Roosters to dominate the regular season so a team getting in and disrupting that would be a good thing for the season.

      I don’t see the Broncos as being any weaker than last year so yes there’s pressure on Nikorima but they should be thereabouts again. The other query is whether their young back up forwards are as good as the players they’ve lost.

      Manly and Parra could possibly have overachieved last year. I guess this season will tell for sure. Parra in particular don’t look that inspiring but a full strength Eagles team looks pretty promising, albeit without a recognised 5/8 at the moment.

      • Roar Guru

        February 19th 2018 @ 9:51am
        Emcie said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        I agree with you about Parra, they had the easiest draw of the top 8 and were knocked out of the top 8 in straight sets. Semi also won a few games almost singlehandedly. They appear to have a relatively easy draw again but wont be have semi there as a get out of jail free card. Hayne is also sure to add some instability, not neccessarily culture wise but positionally as clubs he’s involved with tend to spend a good portion of the season moving him around to find the best fit. That said, they did look a lot better after Moses joined so who knows

        • Columnist

          February 19th 2018 @ 10:16am
          Stuart Thomas said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          Penrith had the dream draw. Played the top five once and five of the bottom six twice with two wins against top eight opposition. Wrote about it last year, not their fault, just an unfair playing field each year where someone wins and someone loses big time.

          • Roar Guru

            February 19th 2018 @ 10:27am
            Emcie said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            I think Parra and Penrith were tied for the easiest draw weren’t they? I worked it out for an article last year, though that may have been the easiest draw outside of the Origin affected matches.

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2018 @ 9:58am
        Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        There are always a few teams outside of the favourites that will come from nowhere and contend for the title. Unpredictable sides like Canberra or Penrith have a shot, while no one really knows what to expect from the new look Bulldogs. But I can’t see anyone outside of the Storm, Sharks, Cowboys or Roosters winning the comp this year.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 10:14am
          Nat said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          Ah, Cronulla in 4th! Acceptable proposition but reminds me of the NSW team – chock full of FB talent but when their leader is a forward, he will starve them of direction and points. Top 8 most likely.

          • Columnist

            February 19th 2018 @ 10:21am
            Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            Maybe they’ll get lucky and big Gal will get injured.

    • Roar Guru

      February 19th 2018 @ 9:35am
      Emcie said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      Broncos fans don’t survive on premierships, we survive on being written off preseason for arbitrary reasons and gut feelings. But fifth? Seriously? Poor effort mate, you could have at least had us missing the 8.

      I dont know too many other broncos fans that are worried about the players moving on, maybye Hunt but even he spent a couple weeks in reserve grade last season. Moga and Blair were more likely to lose you a game then win one through stupid errors and penalties and the others were promising youngsters that have been replaced by other promising youngsters. But fifth?? How am I supposed to complain about a predicted fifth spot? I’d be happy with that. I know you need to mention the Broncos for the engagement but please put more effort in next time

      • Columnist

        February 19th 2018 @ 9:55am
        Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        Morning Emcie. Please don’t take my gut feelings and arbitrary reasoning away. Without it my articles are paper thin. It’s a lot easier basing your predictions on rumour and speculation than doing actual research. I leave that to Tim Gore and the other legitimate writers.

        But you would be one of the few Broncos fans I’ve heard from that would be happy with 5th position on the ladder. 5th is pedestrian. 5th is close but no cigar. 5th may as well be 15th.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 10:07am
          Emcie said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

          You can still win a GF from fifth and it means a home final, and you need home finals to send off retiring players. Otherwise their whole career has been for naught.

          • Columnist

            February 19th 2018 @ 10:08am
            Tom Rock said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

            Good point. Wayne plans for everything. That’s why he’s the Super Coach.

            • Roar Guru

              February 19th 2018 @ 10:37am
              Emcie said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              Would people even remember Petro or Hodges if they hadn’t had an atempt at goal from 20 out? I think not

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 10:16am
          Nat said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          Tim Gore – research??

          Just Kidding Timmy!! xx

          • Roar Guru

            February 19th 2018 @ 3:12pm
            Matt H said | February 19th 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

            The thing I love about Tim’s research is the length’s he will go to. He will dig and dig and dig until he finds the right stats to support his gut feel and prejudices.

            How many times have you read a Tim Gore article where he says “now this stat surprised me, so I’ve had to change my opinion on …”. Anyone? Anyone?

            Of course, it might be because Tim has such a depth of knowledge, statistical wizardry and out and out nerdy love of the game that he is never surprised. I bow to The Master.

            I bet even Tim was surprised by Raiders 2017. I hope he equally surprised (the other way this time) by Raiders 2018.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 10:11am
        Gray-Hand said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Blair is a definite loss. He might give away penalties, but they were usually smart penalties – the type you hate when it’s the opposition doing it.
        Moga was just terrible though. He could not possibly play worse for Newcastle than he played for the Broncos.

        • Roar Guru

          February 19th 2018 @ 10:33am
          Emcie said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          Blair also was good for a couple costly errors and ended McCulloughs’ season, which may have had a disproportionate bearing on my opinion of his contributions. Anyway, not writing the guy off, he did a lot of good for the Broncs, just that it’s a gap that can be filled

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