Imagine my indignation when a Roar writer recently had the audacity to suggest my boys, the mighty St George Illawarra Dragons, are going to finish 14th in season 2021.
Not only that, the side that ran dead last in 2020 was going to finish in front of us.
Once I’d got over the shock, I realised it was probably time to apply some completely unscientific guesswork about where my boys would end after Round 25. This is also known as trying to get the head to rule the heart.
Just to prove I’m leading with my head, I have my boys as no chance to beat the Storm, Raiders or Panthers.
In saying that, I’m almost confident the team can make the finals.
Yes, I know someone decided our best player for the past two seasons was not worth the effort to keep and the same genius (possibly) who managed to let Cam McInnes go to the Sharks was in discussions with Israel Folau.
But Folau’s not coming and McInnes is going next season. So, focusing on now, yep, we’re a chance to make the finals.
This is not so much because the boys are going to turn into overnight superstars but because the bar to make eighth place in the past decade has been set so low.
Over the past ten years, 80 per cent of sides making eighth spot have either had equal win-loss records or lost more games than they won.
The Red V have spent the past two seasons learning how to lose games, so we have that part down pat. The trick is to win 12 games.
That’s where the ‘Hook factor’ comes in.
Anthony Griffin’s a Rockhampton boy. I know a few blokes from that part of the world and they play it hard and straight in the north, which is exactly what Dragons players need right now.
No mucking around with playing guys in different positions every week, Griffin will play them where they’re best suited and if they don’t shape up, he’ll find someone else.
The real Hook factor though is his ability to speak Queenslander, a key element that’s been missing since Ben Hunt and Corey Norman came to the club.
Paul McGregor is a good bloke I’m sure, but he struggled to get his message across to these two. I’m confident a Rockie boy like Hook won’t have the same problems.
Assuming I’m right, we should see a serious improvement in their play, which will translate into wins.
Looking at the Dragons’ draw and the term that best fits is: it sucks.
We’re a chance to win 12 games in the first 19 rounds and one in the last six. That’s because from Round 20 we play Souths, Canberra, Penrith, Easts, North Queensland and Souths again.
If absolutely everything goes right, we might – maybe – sneak into the finals.
But I don’t think so.
Realistically, a pack of teams will fight to decide who finishes from eighth to 13th. These sides, including the Dragons, will have an 11-13 win-loss record, which is a four-win better season than last year and three wins more than 2019.
If the boys can manage 12 wins, they’re a chance to play in the finals where, as the saying goes, anything can happen.
But way too many things have to go right across a long year for that to be a genuine chance of happening.
So I’m guessing the club will finish ninth, much to the annoyance of Tigers fans. We’ll be competitive against premiership contender for long periods, which leaves me with a far better feeling about this year compared to the last few.
Can’t wait for our first game and a win against the Sharks.