The five best forward packs in the NRL

By Josh Chahal
January 12, 2017

WHILE we all love to watch the razzle and dazzle displayed by some of the freakish backs in our game there’s still no denying the importance of having a strong forward pack to win you games.

They mightn’t produce the highlight plays week in, week out, but they lay the foundation for their side and allow their silky backs to show off their skill set.

Here at RLW we’ve decided to look at the teams with the best forward packs in our game.

5. Bulldogs

Despite the question marks surrounding the Dogs in 2017 there’s one thing that we do know for certain – they have one of the meanest packs in the game.

James Graham and Aiden Tolman are two of the hardest working front-rowers in the game, while David Klemmer and Greg Eastwood give them the go-forward most teams can only wish for. Add Josh Jackson and his tireless efforts on both ends of the field and you have one of the most well-rounded forward packs in the NRL.

The fact they can accommodate the destructive force that is Sam Kasiano and allow for him to inject his size and strength off the bench is a testament to the starting unit they’ve put together. They certainly have their struggles elsewhere on the field, but those issues don’t exist amongst their forwards.

4. Cowboys

They may have lost James Tamou to the Panthers but there’s little argument about the established talent still available in the Cowboys pack.

Any team that boasts the likes of James Taumalolo in their side is already given an unfair advantage. His combination of size, speed and power make him the most versatile forward in the game.

Add to the fact they have rep forwards Gavin Cooper and Matt Scott and there’s no denying they still have the firepower up top to keep things ticking over in Townsville. Their link up with Johnathan Thurston makes them a a deadly option when attacking the line and they certainly get through their fair share of tackles in defence.

If Coen Hess can live up to his billing as the next big thing in North Queensland they’ll have no issues maintaining their high standard of play.

3. Sharks

The defending premiers may be short a couple players from their 2016 winning side but they’ll still pack a punch up front.

With a perfect blend of youth and experience the Shire men still have one of the most effective packs in the game. Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis are back for another season and age hasn’t seemed to take away from their efficiency, nor their ability to back up their efforts week-to-week.

Andrew Fifita, despite his off-field distractions, is one of the most devastating ball-runners in the competition and after his heroic performance in last year’s grand final you can expect him to play with a chip on his shoulder in 2017. Wade Graham has established himself as a representative player for years to come and with the addition of Tony Williams they certainly have the size and power to strike fear into their opponents.

2. Panthers

They won over many neutrals last season with their exciting brand of football, and now in 2017 they’ll have the forwards to back it all up.

The addition of James Tamou to an already monstrous pack seems almost unfair, and with Bryce Cartwright set to shuffle into the backrow they have the perfect balance across the field. Trent Merrin was back to his best footy in 2016 and looks to have rediscovered his hunger with this young Panthers side.

James Fischer-Harris and Leilani Latu certainly bring the intimidation factor, the only question for Penrith is how they will line up to start the season. Regardless of who they pick up front, they’ll certainly pack a punch to rival the best of them.

1. Raiders

The Raiders may well have the best forward pack in the NRL. Ricky Stuart has done a terrific job in assembling a premiership-contending squad in the nation’s capital and all of that starts with their big men.

Josh Papalii and Shannon Boyd used 2016 to establish themselves as two of the most feared big men in the game, and the addition of Junior Paulo added more size to an already intimidating roster.

English duo Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson have made the seamless transition to the NRL and both play prominent roles in Raiders team. They have the size, skill and strength to rival any pack in the competition – the fact they still have the best years ahead of them is a scary thought.

Which team boasts the best forward pack in the NRL?

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