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Renouf: My top eight - Broncos to scrape in; Roosters to enter history books

I have put the Broncos in my top eight this year, but only just and not with any degree of confidence.

For me they are a "known unknown". We all know who is in the squad, but how they will all come together and perform is still up in the air.

The benchmark for the Broncos every season is the top four. That is how the club views it and how the Old Boys see it as well.

I still think they are a year away from finishing in the top four and I'm still concerned by the way they finished last year.

In the final round against the Bulldogs they were very ordinary and lost 30-14. The following week they got worse and lost 58-nil to the Eels. It was really telling for me that there was no adjustment.

Do they have it in them to make the improvements needed?

I won’t know the answer until I see where they are at mid-way through the season so the Broncos are a "wait and see" for me.

I’m not putting the mockers on them. More than any Broncos person I want to see them succeed, but I’m just not confident.

I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt putting them in the top eight to be honest.

The spine is still not sorted yet. If it is Jack Bird, Anthony Milford, Brodie Croft and Jake Turpin then they are going to need time to build a combination.

Once again it is an unknown, because they haven’t played together.

The Broncos have a great young forward pack but they will miss Matt Lodge because he is a forward leader and you know what you are going to get with him.

I reckon the big mover this year will be the Cowboys into seventh position.

I liked the look of Coen Hess at the NRL Nines. He is a big unit and he is mobile, and he played like that.

Last year he was going through the motions but he looks enthusiastic and ready to recapture the form that got him in the Maroons side.

The Cowboys scored a coup by signing Valentine Holmes at fullback. Esan Marsters will add punch in the centres, Justin O’Neill is back from injury and Scott Drinkwater has speed and skill.

Last year they lacked speed and strike in the backs but now they have it an abundance and that must excite Paul Green on the back of a strong pack led by Jason Taumalolo.

NRL Fantasy player in focus - Jason Taumalolo

There are no real surprises with the rest of my top eight.

I have tipped the Roosters to make it three titles in a row. I watched them in the World Club Challenge against St Helens and they are just a step ahead of everyone.

Trent Robinson has the ability to get them to lift a cog in the finals where they find another gear other teams can’t match.

A good chunk of their premiership teams are on board and the new players all become part of that winning psyche and they become invincible.

The Sea Eagles I reckon will come second.

If they don’t have injury concerns this year they will be right up there in September with the Trbojevic brothers leading the way. What Des Hasler did with the side last year, without key players, was remarkable. 

Match Highlights: Saints v Roosters

The Rabbitohs, Raiders and Eels should all make the eight.

With Latrell Mitchell on board the Rabbitohs have a dream backline and enough good young forwards to get the job done, and of course they are so well coached by Wayne Bennett.

The Eels can do anything to be honest but they just have to learn how to win away from home. Their perfect games have been at their home stadium so they just need to be consistent when they travel.

The Raiders will keep grinding away. I think Ricky Stuart will be happy for them to be under the radar. Even though they made the grand final last year, it feels that way again.

So long as Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith are at the Storm you know they are going to succeed.

They know how to wear teams down year after year but there is more to the Storm than that. They are a lot more expansive team than people give them credit for and score some great tries.

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.