NRL 2017 Season Preview

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Rugby League is a sport that is played in the North of England, Australia and New Zealand. James loves it! The Australia league is called the NRL and there is one team in NZ called the Auckland Warriors. Here are my predictions for the season. 

The 2017 NRL season kicks off on Thursday with the Sharks commencing their premiership defence at home against the Broncos.  Here’s my table prediction for how the teams will look at the end of the season.

  1. Melbourne Storm

I don’t like Melbourne. They are boring in their consistency of been excellent week in, week out.  They have the best coach and the best hooker in Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith. Their forward pack and outside backs are solid and their bench is young and constantly improving. They have the motivation of the Grand Final loss last season. They have Cameron Munster and Cooper Cronks in the halves controlling a game. They have massive home support. They have so much in their favour that I see them winning the minor Premiership and reaching the Grand Final too.

  1. Penrith Panthers

Critics are falling in love with the Panthers this season. After many seasons of rebuilding their five-year plan is ready to push for a Premiership. They have excellent young players in Moylan, Mansour, Peachey, Watene-Zelezniak, Cartwright, Yeo and Campbell-Gillard all of whom have two or more seasons of NRL experience under their belt. I think they are in for a big season in 2017  but I am not sure if they can win it. It might be a case of one more year for the Panthers.

  1. Canberra Raiders

The Raiders form last year took many by surprise. I think this form will continue with Josh Hodgson and Joey Leilua battling it out for the Daily M medal at the end of the season. The forwards were dominant last year and have much improvement left in them. Nick Cotric is a player of the future. I see them making the final and reaching their first Premiership for a long time.

  1. Brisbane Broncos

Broncos fell to pieces during the Origin period last year winning only 2 from 9. I can’t see similar slump happening this year, Wayne Bennett is too good of a coach. I think they will be in top four this year and certainly in the mix to win the Premiership. Solid squad, excellent coach along with a favourable draw and schedule puts them in a great position to succeed.

  1. Cronulla Sharks

A team hasn’t won back to back premierships since Brisbane in 1992-1993. The loss of Ben Barba and Michael Ennis will hit the Sharkies hard. I think their forward pack is solid and the halves in Townsend and Maloney are very strong. I just see them sliding down the ladder as teams around them get stronger.

  1. North Queensland Cowboys

They have a solid pack and the best half in the game with Jonathan Thurston. They fell short last year and crashed out and didn’t make the final. I think they have enough quality to beat a lot of teams especially at home, but I feel this is the beginning of slid for the cowboys with Thurston’s age catching up with him I feel his form may drop off.

  1. New Zealand Warriors

One team that is impossible to predict. Last year everyone predicted them to be in the top eight and they fell in a heap. With the return of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the addition of Kieran Foran, they have a New Zealand international backline. The have a solid forward pack and pace to burn out wide, on paper they are premiership favourites. However, they have suffered from an attitude problem in the past and it is unknown how they will perform this year. I think they can get it together enough to make the eight but will underachieve in seventh place.

  1. South Sydney Rabbitohs

Souths are a difficult team to judge this year. They have fallen so far since their dominance for three years capped with the premiership in 2014. The main questions are how will Robbie Farah perform and can he get Souths stuttering stack and weak defence fixed in 2017? They have a solid spine with Inglis, Reynolds and Farah with Walker and Johnson looking good wide. They will need a strong year from the Burgess boys, who need to cut out their handling errors. I think if the spine can stay injury free they will make the eight.

  1. Parramatta Eels

Parra are a team that somehow always seems surrounded by drama. The salary cap saga engulfed the whole of last season and hopefully has come to an end. They have a fantastic squad and Brad Arthur is a great man manager and gets the best out of players. I think they will score plenty of points this season but I think their defence will let them down and they will just miss the 8.

  1. Sydney Roosters

Even with a horror start to 2016 with off-field problems and injuries, they were still competitive in most games. I think they have a good young squad which is evident with their nines win last month. I think they will come back strong in 2017 but the top 8 will be just out of reach.

  1. Canterbury Bulldogs

Bulldogs are lacking the star players that the other teams have but they are a very workman like team. They have a strong forward pack which needs to go back to basics and grind down opposition teams to give their backs room to play. Over the past few seasons Des Hasler likes to use his forwards has ball players which is starting to look outdated. They need a top 8 finish to keep Hasler his job and I don’t think it will be a fairy tale ending.

  1. Gold Coast Titans

I feel they overachieved last season and will slip down the ladder this year. They have bought Kevin Proctor which will boost their forward pack. The return of Kane Elgey and Nathan Peats will be a boost to their attacking potential. I feel that Hayne won’t live up to the hype this season and have a quiet year which will see them miss the playoffs.

  1. West Tigers

Wests tried to move Robbie Farah on and start a fresh, which was desperately needed. However, they have had a nightmare preseason with Kyle Lovett’s drugs possession charge and Tim Simona allegedly placing bets on players he was marking scoring tries. They have bought Jamal Idris who has to be the most overrated centre in the game. They have got some excellent young players like Mitchell Moses and Tedesco, however, I don’t see them making the eight.

  1. Manly Sea Eagles

Manly I think will struggle this season but I am not as confident with my prediction of 14th on the ladder. The Trbojevic brothers have become the backbone of the team and are future Origin players for sure, they also have the pace of Dylan walker in his favoured centre position. However, I have a question over whether their forwards can carry them throughout the season with a lack of depth in their squad. A big season is needed from Daly Cherry-Evans and Blake Green.

  1. St George Illawarra Dragons

I predict that the Dragons don’t have enough points in them to see off many of the stronger opposition this season. Their over reliance on the overrated Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan was found out last season and they haven’t recruited any quality ball players to create scoring opportunities. I think like the Knights this will be a rebuilding year getting ready for when Ben Hunt joins in 2018.

  1. Newcastle Knights

Who would be a Knights fan? It’s tough watching your team battle bravely without getting a win week after week. The rebuild is definitely taking shape with some good juniors signed up for next year. They looked very good in the trials, however, trials aren’t an accurate gauge of form. The attitude of the younger players during this long hard season will have an impact on how they go in 2018. I think they will win a couple more than last season but I still think they are favourites for the spoon.

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NRL 2017 Season Preview

  1. Storm
  2. Panthers
  3. Raiders
  4. Broncos
  5. Sharks
  6. Cowboys
  7. Warriors
  8. Rabbitohs
  9. Eels
  10. Roosters
  11. Bulldogs
  12. Titans
  13. Tigers
  14. Manly
  15. Dragons
  16. Knights
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