NRL 2016 Season Preview
Key In's - James Roberts (Titans)
Key Out's - Justin Hodges (retirement), Dale Copley (Roosters), Ashley Taylor (Titans), Matt Parcell (Sea Eagles), Jayden Nikorima (Roosters)
The Broncos were a whisker away from winning it all and then they somehow got better during the offseason. Despite losing Justin Hodges they added speedster James Roberts after that contract debacle on the Coast.
They have lost some depth with the losses of those young guys mentioned above who are now all to be featured for their new clubs, however I can’t see the Broncos finishing lower than 3rd at worst and winning it all this year.
Key In's - Aidan Sezer (Titans), Elliot Whitehead (Catalan Dragons), Jeff Lima (Catalan Dragons)
Key Out's - Josh McCrone (Dragons), Dave Shillington (Titans)
The Raiders are primed for a big year with some key additions especially Aidan Sezer. A very good half who is quite creative without making many mistakes. The Raiders can put on points fast and new recruit Whitehead has provided a spark showing his early combinations with Rapana is going to reap rewards.
The losses aren’t that big a deal as none of them are forces in the NRL anymore. I can see them finishing anywhere between 3rd and 15th. The life of a Raiders fan!
Key In's - Dave Shillington HAHAHA!!! (Raiders), Nathan Friend (Warriors), Ashley Taylor (Broncos), Tyrone Roberts (Knights), Chris McQueen (Rabbitohs)
Key Out's - James Roberts (Broncos), Nate Myles (Sea Eagles), Aidan Sezer (Raiders), KEVIN GORDON (RETIREMENT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!)
Well the DCE backflip was the start and James Roberts contract and Kane Elgeys injury finished a horrible 12 months for the Titans. Their purchases are okay at best and they have overpaid to attract some players just to stay competitive.
$2 Tyrone isn’t that bad though and will now be relied upon each week to spark this team, however the rest of the backline leave a lot to be desired. Their forward pack is weak and they too have depth issues. I wouldn’t expect much this year from them.
Key In's - Matthew White (Titans), Mark Nicholls (Raiders), Cheyse Blair (Manly)
Key Out's - Kurt Mann (Dragons), Ryan Hinchcliffe (England), Mahe Fonua (England)
The Storm have typically done what they do in the off season and recruit based on solid players that they hope will fit well around the big 3 of Slater, Cronk and Smith. While this has worked well in the past, the "Big 3" are slowing down and may not have as big of an impact as they once did.
While Craig Bellamy is still at the helm any team that is put to together by the Storm is still a contender. Like the great John Lennon once said "You give me an instrument, I'll get you a sound out of it."
Key In's - Nobody
Key Out's - Glenn Hall (retirement)
The Champs are here!! What can we say they had a great run last year after an early bad run of losses. Some say it was a lucky win in the final but if Kane Linnett wasn’t the new Luke Davico they might of been closer earlier in the game.
Some are questioning their hunger this year and it might be an issue but it could also go the other way and their confidence playing on the back of the best player of the world may propel them to another GF. Also they have some serious depth and some young talent they have been blooding last year and this. They might be the first since 92, 93 to go back to back.
Key In’s – Trent Merrin (Dragons), Peta Hiku (Manly), Anthony Griffin (Coach)
Key Out’s – Lewis Brown (Manly), Brent Kite (Retired), Apisai Koroisau (Manly)
The Panthers are one of only 3 clubs this year that have a new coach at the helm. Griffin is a no nonsense coach that many believe was hard done by when getting pushed aside at the Broncos (although it was for King Wayne). He will be a great asset to a team that is coming to the end of their rebuilding stage and ready to be serious contenders.
The addition of Trent Merrin to this forward pack is huge and something that young forwards Bryce Cartwright, Elijah Taylor and Reagan Campbell-Gillard should thrive in. The key for the Panthers success this season is to stay healthy in key positions. As we saw last year the depth is not quite there and still needs some work.
Key In's - Kurt Mann (Storm), Tim Lafai (Bulldogs), Russell Packer (Prison)
Key Out's - Trent Merrin (Panthers)
The Dragons are tough to judge, their purchases in the backline appear to improve their squad and depth, however their forward pack still leaves a lot to be desired and they let Trent Merrin walk because they couldn’t work out how to use him properly.
McGreggor got this squad to overachieve last year and I think they may struggle this year. The key is the halves if Benji or Widdop go down the Dragons will struggle and considering most of the other teams around them improved like the Raiders, Eels, Sea Eagles they may find it difficult to replicate last years results.
Key In’s – Roger Tuivasa –Sheck (Roosters), Issac Luke (Rabbitohs), Jeff Robson (Sharks)
Key Out’s – Chad Townsend (Sharks), Nathan Friend (Titans), Bradley Abbey (Bulldogs)
The Warriors made some big moves in the off season and upgraded the roster in 3 key areas – Fullback, 5/8 and Hooker. RTS and Luke are huge up grades in the spine and although some may think that Jeff Robson is not, he will provide a steady presence in the middle to allow the superstars around him to shine.(not to mention he is a much cheaper option than Townsend!).
The Warriors still have the menacing forward pack that most teams find a tough match up and with a healthy Shaun Johnson this team would be expecting a deep run at the pointy end of the season.
Key In’s – Will Hopoate (Eels), Bradley Abbey (Warriors)
Key Out’s – Trent Hodkinson (Knights), Frank Pritchard (England), Tim Lafai (Dragons)
Not a lot of off season movement by the bulldogs that has worked hard to keep the core group of players together over an extended period. Many believe that the wrong half in Trent Hodkinson was let go instead of Josh “Brain Fart” Reynolds, but only time will tell if this was the correct decision.
They still maintain one of the biggest and most versatile forward packs in the league along with a good blend of experience and youth in the backline. Will be a tough match up for most teams week in and week out.
Key In's - James Maloney (Roosters), Chad Townsend (Warriors), Joseph Paulo (Eels)
Key Out's - Michael Gordon (Eels), Jeff Robson (Warriors)
Big things are expected from the Sharks this year with a recruitment drive that has massively upgraded their halves including to get one of the best point scorers in the NRL in Maloney.
They have a dominant pack and moving Jack Bird to the centers is a big plus and he is in for a huge year. Everything comes down to Ben Barba, if he has gotten back to close to his Dally M form then these guys are serious contenders.
Key In's - Martin Taupau (Tigers), Dylan Walker (Rabbitohs), Nate Myles (Titans), Lewis Brown (Panthers), Apisai Koroisau (Panthers), Matt Parcell (Broncos)
Key Out's - Keiran Foran (Eels), Matt Ballin (Tigers), Justin Horo (Catalan Dragons), Peta Hiku (Panthers)
There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Sea Eagles and talk of them returning to the top 8. I seriously do not see this happening. Their forwards have improved slightly with key players like Taupau and Brown.
They have some nice outside backs but DCE may feel the full weight of that $10 million contract and they are relying on some ageing stars in Lyon and Stewart to try bring this young bunch together. If they start poorly they may not be able to dig themselves out again and I feel that they might be living on past glory. Dylan Walker is untried at 5/8th at NRL level and should Stewart, Lyon or DCE go down at some point it could be season over.
Key In's - Trent Hodkinson (Bulldogs)
Key Out's - Kurt Gidley (Warrington Wolves), Beau Scott (Eels), Tyrone Roberts (Titans)
Nathan Brown has taken the broom to the squad and introduced a number of young players to assist in a transition which may take 2-3 years before we see results. Hodkinson is a smart purchase despite struggling early last year he is the steady hand these young players need.
Feeney is set to be a revelation at fullback and the Matautias are set to be unleashed. The squad lacks serious depth and their lack of experience will prove their undoing after the initial excitement of the start of the year. Cellar Dwellers for the Knights
Key In’s – Kieran Foran (Manly), Michael Jennings (Roosters), Beau Scott (Knights), Michael Gordon (Sharks)
Key Out’s – Will Hopoate (Bulldogs), Pauli Pauli (Knights), Joseph Paulo (Sharks)
The Eels have been one of the most active teams in the off season spending some big money on what they hope will be difference makers across the park. The halves pairing of Foran and Norman has the potential to be one of the most dangerous in the league.
Along with the new signings in the backline, this could be a turn around year the club who have not made a finals appearance in 6 years. But in saying that what is good on paper is not always good on the paddock, especially when talking about the Eels.
Key In’s – Sam Burgess (English Rugby), Damien Cook (Bulldogs)
Key Out’s – Glen Stewart (England), Issac Luke (Warriors), Dylan Walker (Manly)
The Rabbitohs have lost a lot of first grade experience in the off season, but the re addition of Sam Burgess back from his failed Rugby stint is a big win to soften the blow.
The recent off season moves have made the once feared Rabbitohs forward pack a little light on for depth, but with some promising young guns (Kyle Turner & Chris Grevsmuhl) they may surprise some teams. This is the year that Adam Reynolds will need to be the go to man (along with GI of course) for the Bunnies to make a mark this season.
Key In's - Jayden Nikorima (Broncos), Dale Copley (Bulldogs), Russell Packer (Prison)
Key Out's - Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors), James Maloney (Sharks), Michael Jennings (Eels)
The off season has been an absolute disaster for the Roosters. Key players moving on, below average recruitment, injuries, courtrooms and poodles!! Even passoniate supporters must have doubts that last years minor premiers can get it together for a successful 2016.
A lot of question marks will centre around the inexperienced halves pairing of Hastings and Nikorima. It will be key for the Roosters to get off to a solid start without their experienced players, if not it could be a very long 2016 for Robinson and his team.
Key In’s – Matt Ballin (Manly)
Key Out’s – Martin Taupau (Manly), Keith Galloway (England)
The off season has been headline grabbing for the Tigers with the Robbie Farah v Jason Taylor saga still looking like it will dominate the club at the start of the season. The addition of Matt Ballin from Manly only makes this even more juicy!
Meanwhile Aaron Woods has been promoted to Captain and will look to provide leadership on the field to this dysfunctional outfit. Still a very young team with youth in key positions.
James Tedecso had a break out season in 2015 and Brooks and Moses will like to do the same this year. Plenty of potential, but still have a very long way to go.
2016 Ladder Predictions
2016 Premiers - Broncos
2016 Premiers - Cowboys
2016 Premiers - Warriors
2016 Premiers - Storm