In what feels like the longest year ever – and essentially was – the NRL pulled off a massive feat by completing a full season, along with a State of Origin series.
Many had thought it wouldn’t surface but it was a huge feat for the competition. With such a turn around for pre-season, some sides are back into it already, having only maybe a month or so off.
With some sides who may struggle with a shorter pre-season, or some sides who may weirdly thrive off it, all eyes turns to the 2021 season.
In good news, it is looking like normal routine will commence in 2021 for the season, with crowd capacities increasing, and stadium rules easing off.
Based off what signings have occurred, and how the rosters and coaching staff look as of today, I will predict my top eight for the season of 2021, the job that no one likes to do a little too early.
As it stands, this is how I see the top eight unfolding for next season:
1. Sydney Roosters
The boys from Bondi look primed to made another red hot run for the premiership in 2021. With their glue man back in Victor Radley, and the possible pending signing of Gareth Widdop, the Roosters will be on the verge of another strong season in 2021.
Key men James Tedesco, Luke Keary and Radley, will do well to steer the ship home for a minor premiership, I think.
2. Melbourne Storm
Still as strong as ever on paper, add in the young gun Harry Grant, who takes over from the greatest in Cameron Smith, the Storm will be there again in what looks like Craig Bellamy’s final season at the helm.
My biggest issue for the Storm is the small things Cameron Smith done will be gone (goal-kicking, kick for touch, drop outs, reffing…).
Talent alone, and Bellamy at the helm, they will fight for top spot, but finish second for mine.
3. South Sydney Rabbitohs
Wayne Bennett, please for the love of everything, play Latrell Mitchell in the centres and Corey Allan at fullback.
The Bunnies can reach their full potential if this duo play where they should.
The Bunnies will boast the best backline in the competition. Welcoming a tough Jai Arrow also, will not hurt their claims. I love the Bunnies for 2021.
4. Canberra Raiders
Yep, I have the minor premiers from 2020 missing the top four.
Canberra, who came up with such a great game-plan without skipper Josh Hodgson, will welcome back their skipper in 2021. With the loss of John Bateman and Nick Cotric, their depth will be tested, but with a hungry Ryan James, I can see the green machine march to the top four in 2021.
5. Penrith Panthers
With such a young side, a bit of inconsistency that will creep into their game in 2021. With the loss of I think who inspired much of their game in 2020 in Tamou, I think they will lose that leadership presence, although Leota is a great player.
Look for Cleary to try and make amends for a tough finish in 2020, but a bit of inconsistency to creep into their game to push them to a fifth place finish.
6. Newcastle Knights
With the addition of Tyson Frizell, and the backflip from Blake Green, I can see a bit more stability come into the Knights game.
With O’Brien trying to enforce a system-like plan in Newcastle, a year further should help their cause. They will be in the top five for the major part of the season I think, but will finish in the sixth spot.
7. Parramatta Eels
The kings of hype. I am still not sure why people predicted the Eels to win it all in 2020, prior to the season, but it clearly haunted them.
With such a strong pack, and talented backs, you would expect so much more from the Eels. The jury is out on Mitch Moses, and so too coach Brad Arthur. I think they will do enough to finish in the seventh position.
8. New Zealand Warriors
This pick took me a lot longer than I previously would have thought. The Sharks? Not enough to convince me, roster is thin. The Tigers? Love ninth too much.
The Dragons? Not sold on their coaching staff. The Cowboys under Todd Payten? Tempting.
The Titans? Not buying into the hype of Fifita and co. I even thought of the Broncos… not enough to make a steaming comeback under Kevvy Walters.
Which leaves me the Warriors. With a few strong additions, and coming out of an Australia base in the first month, I like the Warriors to push for the eight and eventually make it.
Led by Roger the dodger, recruits Addin Fonua-Blake, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Euan Aitken, I like the Warriors for 8.
There you have it, that was a lot harder than I thought it would be.
– I am not sold on the Titans. I think David Fifita plays well below his pay packet and the new studs in Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Herman Ese’ese, lose their structure under new coach Justin Holbrook. However, if they happen to sign a man named Cameron Smith, then they make the 8, undoubtedly.
– No love for the Doggies and Bazza? Ahhhh nope.
– I really don’t like the Sharks under John Morris. They seem weak and don’t have that aura Shane Flanagan instilled in them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they fight for the spoon, to be brutally honest. Morris is to be the first coach sacked.
This is my top eight for season 2021. Who makes yours?