ABC Grandstand expert and former NRL coach Daniel Anderson will dissect all the issues that matter in rugby league on NRL.com this season. His first column looks at comebacks fans are hoping for in 2012.
The NFL (American Gridiron) has an award called 'Comeback Player of the Year' at the conclusion of each season. Personally, I am not a fan of this award as winners are either extremely talented players coming off a lean year form-wise, or who return from injury.
Whilst I think this award is irrelevant, some NRL clubs and their fans will hope these players are considered for an NRL equivalent at the end of 2012.
In NBA terms, Jarryd Hayne is Lebron James. He's ridiculously talented and, when in form, can dominate any opposition and the game result. After he was suffocated with lack of space in 2011, the Parramatta Eels will pray that newly acquired halfback Chris Sandow can provide a threat in attack that will divert some eyes off the best player in the team.
Whilst he is a first-class passer of the ball (Jarryd led the team in try assists and line break assists in 2011), the fortunes of the Eels this season will reflect his running game and his personal tally of tackle busts, line breaks and tries scored.
Terry Campese is an intelligent, selfless, team oriented player. In 2011, he played a total of seven minutes of rugby league (the definition of a wretched year). Canberra Raiders fans (and coach David Furner) will pray and know that if 'Campo' plays more than 20 games in 2012, the Raiders will rise from 15th to playoff contenders. Whilst there are plenty of attacking threats in this team, such as Josh Dugan, Josh McCrone and Blake Ferguson, the win column will only advance if the 'conductor' of this team remains healthy.
Coming off a year in which Scott Prince and his Gold Coast teammates collected the never coveted wooden spoon for 2011, the off-season would have seen Titans fans voting their 2012 theme song would be Yazz and the Plastic Population's 'The Only Way is Up'. The Titans were ugly and awful to watch in 2011 and it was reflected in their finishing position. Prince is 32 this year and by his own standards would rather forget 2011.
In my opinion, Scott Prince still has a brilliant short attacking kicking game but is that enough? John Cartwright, Michael Searle and Prince himself will pray that there is a Titans version of recent New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin in the dressing sheds – an unheralded type who can be a creative second ball player and assist Prince.
The Sydney Roosters's attack
There is no doubt that the Sydney Roosters have flair in abundance and ooze attacking genius in key positions… although that wasn't completely true for 2011.
In 2010, Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored 20 tries and Todd Carney 16 tries. Last year they combined for less than half that (only 15 tries between them) with BJ Leulia the club's top tryscorer with 10. Yes I still think they ooze genius and flair but Roosters fans will pray that they 'close' some more attacking raids with four pointers this season. Like the Brad Pitt movie 'Moneyball', which Roosters player(s) will make up the numbers that Kenny-Dowall and Carney delivered in 2010?
Follow Daniel Anderson on Twitter @ABCLeagueCoach