Desperate for some league articles that don’t revolve around Latrell Mitchell, I’ve decided to have a go at predicting which teams will jump up into this year’s top eight – and at the expense of who.
I get it, many have been patient enough and you are disappointed – but surely you have some more patience left in you?
We’ve got the players on the field and a team who can deliver. We’re not the 2016 side who sadly was everyone’s whipping boy. We’ve come a long way so let’s just be happy for the times they are a-changin’ – for the better.
I got some facts for us to elaborate ahead of our upcoming game against the Dragons.
1. Kalyn Ponga is back at fullback
Might as well throw a parade for his return. Last year he excelled brilliantly as a fullback. His five-eighth attempt wasn’t all bad but he was a target while defending and didn’t have much room to work with.
At fullback, he can be lethal plus he has got some combinations with Mitchell Pearce.
2. Mason Lino’s first grade debut for Newcastle
It was bound to happen sooner or later. He’s a rather quiet achiever. He’s an actual half and he’ll have guidance from Pearce.
Despite playing a lot of games at halfback, he is a handful at five-eighth.
3. Nathan Brown ain’t going nowhere
I know this is a sixes and sevens call but I am sixes and sevens guy.
Brown has done a lot of wonderful things for our club. He teamed up with our players (the loyal ones at least) to bring the pride back.
They, along with those who wanted to play for us, helped rebuild the club and us fans did our bit by standing by them. No other club would have done it.
I’m prepared to bet we’ll make it this year in the finals but if not, I still say he’s safe but if we don’t make it next year, the heat is on (not quoting Glenn Frey).
4. Pearce, Watson and Ponga
Ponga at fullback, Connor Watson at five-eighth plus Pearce are a lethal trio.
I still call them – plus Danny Levi – as the NRL counterpart of the A-Team. Sadly they can’t use that name directly due to copyright. Mitchell Pearce is Hannibal (he’s the leader), you figure out the rest.
5. Let’s be real
We’ll get better as the season goes on. The combinations will improve and we’ll get the results we want.
In our first eight games last year, we were five and three. Sadly, with Pearce gone, we only won two of nine from there.
Yes, I believe we’ll make the finals but I can’t see us winning it this year.
Why? We have still got a lot of work to do. The semi-finals is as far as we’ll go. I hope I’m wrong and he win the big dance, but I don’t want to come up with false hope.