The NRL's top five forward packs
This is where the big boys play – although there is a lot more than just size that makes the competition's best forward packs so dominant. This top five list created heated debate in the NRL.com offices; there are a lot of big forward packs, but the following five are the pick of the bunch, brimming with international and State of Origin experience.
Starting pack: Andrew Fifita, Michael Ennis, Sam Tagataese, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen
Cronulla have long been recognised for playing a tough, uncompromising style of football and this can be largely attributed to their no-nonsense forward pack. The Sharks will be bolstered by new recruit and former NSW rake Michael Ennis, who should relish the chance to play with this highly experienced pack. Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis and Andrew Fifita were all part of Australia's record-breaking 2013 World Cup campaign, while the Sharks also boast three international forwards on the bench; Chris Heighington (England), Anthony Tupou (Australia) and Jayson Bukuya (Fiji). Sam Tagataese is the only player in the starting line-up not to have spent an extended period in the NSW Origin camp – he has however played Test matches for Samoa. Put simply, this is a forward pack not to be trifled with.
Starting pack: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Mitch Aubusson, Aidan Guerra
The Roosters forward pack has been the benchmark for the last couple of seasons and they are not out of place on this list in 2015 despite the departure of dual international Sonny Bill Williams. Their starting pack still contains four internationals, while Jake Friend is knocking loudly on the representative door – both for Queensland and Australia. Waerea-Hargreaves and Moa are intimidating hitmen, while Aiden Guerra and Boyd Cordner have unbelievable footwork and skill to go with their size. They also have great depth on the bench with Martin Kennedy returning to join Dylan Napa, Isaac Liu and Kane Evans. This is a great pack with experience and depth.
Starting pack: Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Adam Blair, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker
With the acquisition of Adam Blair from the Wests Tigers, this Broncos pack looks to be the complete package. Coach Wayne Bennett has declared Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday will move out of the front row and back to their preferred roles – opening up their devastating combination of running, offloads and quick play-the-balls. This is good news for Broncos fans and great news for NRL Fantasy players! With five starting Internationals and a bench consisting of the likes of Alex Glenn, James Gavet and Corey Oates, this is a Broncos pack ready to give the premiership a real shake in 2015.
Starting pack: George Burgess, Issac Luke, Dave Tyrrell, Chris McQueen, John Sutton, Glenn Stewart
This one caused plenty of debate in the NRL.com offices. The pack that devoured all before them in 2014 on their way to an emotional premiership comes up just short of top spot in this list. Maybe it is because Clive Churchill Medal winner Sam Burgess has left, but that shouldn't detract from the fact this pack will still be a proverbial juggernaut. The addition of Glenn Stewart will add a new dimension to the bash and barge of previous seasons. With George Burgess's bullocking runs resembling that of a runaway train, there is a nice balance of hard-hitting front men, with ball-playing forwards. That's before you look at a bench containing the unheralded Jason Clarke, last year's breakout rookie Kyle Turner, George Burgess's twin Tom and ex-Panther with a point to prove Tim Grant.
Starting pack: James Graham, Michael Lichaa, Aiden Tolman, Tony Williams, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood
Just edging out the Rabbitohs for top spot are the aptly named 'Dogs of war'. While inspirational leader Michael Ennis has left, there is still plenty of bark in this pack. Led by the best prop in the game James Graham, the Canterbury-Bankstown boys also boast an international back-row of Tony Williams, Josh Jackson and Greg Eastwood. Throw in new Kangaroo David Klemmer and New Zealand internationals Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano and you can see why they are at the top of our list. It is an incredibly formidable group of players that won't give opposition teams a moment's respite in 2015.