ABC Grandstand expert and former NRL coach Daniel Anderson will dissect all the issues that matter in rugby league on NRL.com this season.
We all love to make predictions, especially when it comes to our favourite sport. Here are my predictions for the 2012 NRL Season … if they come good you will hear about it in September. If they don’t then please find attached a disclaimer for all said.
I am all over the Wests Tigers. I can hear the groan as the Tigers fans understand the kiss of death has been placed upon them as I have never finished in the top three of any tipping competition in my life.
The Wests Tigers have the mixture of young and old, rookie and representative, cheap and expensive players to win this season.
Salary caps preclude you from establishing a dynasty so the window to win is narrow and the Tigers must do it in 2012 before the cap bites into their depth.
The Dragons, Storm and Sea Eagles all had their windows and lifted the trophy; the Tigers must replicate this. When you consider experienced pigs like Ellis, Heighington, Galloway with young bulls Woods and Groat, Robbie Farah (without the 2011 injury that affected his running game) should terrorise oppositions in the middle of the field.
Add new recruit Adam Blair and it’s utopia for fantasy footy. The Glory Boys are well credentialed too. Lote Tuqiri, Chris Lawrence, Blake Ayshford, Beau Ryan and young gun James Tedesco provide potency for Benji Marshall to produce NRL advertising clips for the next five years.
The biggest play was somehow retaining Tim Moltzen who showed absolute class and speed down the stretch in 2011 and will be a brilliant foil for Benji this year. Did I mention they have a four time premiership coach too?
Who will hit the mark
South Sydney Rabbitohs. Who doesn’t love watching the Rabbitohs? They play with skill, using the full field to isolate little defenders against an understated massive backrow running contingent with Eddie Pettybourne (big), Sam Burgess (bigger) and Dave Taylor (biggest). Rugby league analysts will scrutinise the influence of new coach Michael Maguire in the first few rounds but look at what they’ve got.
They have Nathan Merritt (my prediction for NRL leading tryscorer in 2012), Greg Inglis (cold breeze up my spine when I think about his 2009 GF catch) and wing towers Matt King and Chris McQueen in the backs with no nonsense middle men Roy Asotasi, Michael Crocker, Scott Geddes and Nathan Peats complimenting the massive pack.
The top two inches is in the hands of John Sutton, Adam Reynolds and wildcard Issac Luke. If the NRL judiciary has no reason to summon Luke, then he can help deliver the 2012 new NRL Finals system a sellout crowd.
Who will miss the eight
There is a good chance that I will have egg all over my face but I do not see the Brisbane Broncos making the top eight in 2012.
Can anyone remember when the last Hall Of Fame player or prospective Immortal left their club? Take Andrew Johns and Newcastle. Whilst it was sudden, Newcastle have played and lost only two playoff games since 2007.
Brisbane are better prepared but Darren Lockyer was a genius on the field. His passing, kicking, running, decision making and leadership is impossible to replace in the short term. Broncos have athletic talent and directness in abundance but who provides the subtlety needed when the heat is applied.
Justin Hodges may feel the cold a little in 2012 given Locky will not be on the right side feeding him the right ball at the right time he is so used to.