THE 2017 season is still a couple months away but that hasn’t stopped us putting together some bold predictions for the upcoming season.
Given the unpredictable nature of the NRL it’s almost impossible to say what will happen between now and September but here’s our premature picks for the year ahead.
Hasler and the Dogs part ways before season’s end
It was clear for all to see that things didn’t seem right at the Bulldogs toward the back end of last season, and we can’t see them improving in 2017.
With his contract set to expire at season’s end we expect Hasler to be shown the door well before that time comes.
The squad is almost identical to last season and given their struggles – especially in attack – we can see them falling out of the eight completely which will be all the encouragement the board needs to give Des the mid-season boot.
A return to Manly in 2018 will be touted once he becomes available and Trent Barrett fails to right his wrongs with the Sea Eagles.
Dragons will rival the Knights for the spoon
We’re still not confident enough to say the Knights won’t finish bottom of the pile in 2017, but we will say they’ll be closer to their nearest rivals than most might think.
This is a case of the Dragons regressing further under Paul McGregor than it is the Knights improving under Nathan Brown – either way it’ll be an interesting race (if you can call it that) for the wooden spoon.
There could be quite a gap between the bottom two and the rest of the competition and we wouldn’t be shocked to see them separated by point differential come the end of the season.
Addo-Carr will be the latest Storm revelation
This one seems more like a foregone conclusion than an out-on-a-limb prediction given both the raw talent possessed by Josh Addo-Carr and Craig Bellamy’s track record for improving his players.
With speed to burn and the athleticism to match we’re expecting big things from the 21-year-old, who we’re tipping to top the try-scoring charts in 2017.
He’ll have the service that most wingers can only dream of and he’ll quickly become one of the most feared finishers in our game. With Suliasu Vunivalu set to kick on from his strong rookie campaign the Storm may well boast the best wing-duo in the NRL.
Maroons era of dominance comes to an end
All good things come to an end, and, if you’re a Queenslander, one of the best era’s of Origin footy is set to come to a close.
It may have only been a ‘dead rubber’ in Game Three last year but there were ominous signs throughout the series that the Blues were looking to turn a corner.
It’s a tough ask to win at Suncorp, which they’ll need to do at least once if they’re to claim bragging rights, but this young side has the talent available to do just that.
The Maroons will no doubt remain loyal to those who have served them so well and while it has been justified to date we expect this young, hungry Blues pack to prove too much to handle for the ageing Maroons.
It’s a big call but we’re tipping the Blues to emerge victorious for just the second time in the past 12 years.
The Green Machine win the premiership
The Raiders just got better and better as the season went on in 2016, and there’s nothing to suggest they won’t continue in the same fashion in 2017.
They came within a whisker of reaching the grand final last season and we expect that to be all the motivation they need to go one game further this year.
Their forwards are among the best in the competition, they have backs as good as any in the competition and their halves provide the perfect platform for those around them to shine bright. They also happen to have the best hooker not named Cam Smith in the NRL.
They may still be considered a dark horse by some pundits around the country, but for us they’re more than just contenders – they are the team to beat in 2017.