|Can the boys from the Eastern Suburbs find their 2013 form again?|
South Sydney – Prediction 4th
A really poor year for the Rabbits in 2016, and they’ll be looking to make amends. They have a refreshed feel to them this year with Robbie Farah coming in, and with the Burgess brothers now all settled down with wives and kids, they should keep focussed on footy and out of the social pages.
A lot of eyes will be on how Farah fits into the system, but I think it will be more intriguing to see how the rest of the squad already there recovers from last season. Inglis and Reynolds both need to step-up, not to mention the Burgess’ brothers. All are premiership-winning players and need to hit the reset button on their enthusiasm because they’re the ones who drive the culture of the club.
Predicting Michael Maguire to take his side back to the upper-etches of the NRL ladder and into September. For me, they’ll make the top four.
St. George-Illawarra Dragons – Prediction 16th
A club in complete disarray. What more can be said? They’ve been on the slide since Wayne Bennett left years ago, and they’re direction and recruitment has to be questioned. Club legend Paul ‘Mary’ McGregor has been left to clean up the poor decisions of others and made to look like a fool.
Outside of Dugan and Frizell they have no real high-quality players and the use of Dugan at right centre is mind-boggling considering he was once mentioned as the ‘next Billy Slater’ while emerging at Canberra. He must play fullback and he needs to return to his running-game strength that made him a star in the lime green.
McGregor moved on Benji Marshall last season which was a bold but needed decision, and was planning on using NSW Cup winning halfback Drew Hutchinson only for him to do an ACL in the preseason. Would be using this year to blood a heap of youngsters like Newcastle did last season and look towards a big 2018.
Sydney Roosters – Prediction 2nd
The Roosters will be the most-improved side in 2017, mark my words. After 12 months of horror, Mitchell Pearce will have a burning desire to help the Chooks back towards success. He is the player with the biggest point to prove in the NRL this year, and will reach his best form since they won the comp in 2013.
Connor Watson has already placed a heap of pressure on Luke Keary to steal the five-eighth position, but will likely be used in a utility role off the bench. Their core bunch of players are very experienced and have played together for a number of years, so I’m expecting big things from the Tri-Colours this season.
Look out for Latrell Mitchell, Blake Ferguson and Shaun Kenny-Dowell to cross the white line more often than a school-crossing supervisor.
Wests Tigers – Prediction 13th
A make or break year for the Tigers this season, and with their swagger of stars off-contract at the end of the year, it could be a make or break on the upcoming future of the club. The trio of Moses, Brooks and Tedesco have played enough NRL games now to handle the pressure and gone will be the young and learning tag.
Jason Taylor will be under tremendous pressure from the fans if they get off to a poor start, and if that’s the case it could make the re-signing of their big names a distraction and hamper their season.
Don’t have the cattle up front to be able to knock over the best clubs on a regular basis, and will struggle to match it with the bigger sides. Could surprise though and with a bit of momentum I wouldn’t be shocked if they went on a run.