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Experts' view: Who's got best forward pack

It's a saying as true as the game is old - you don't win big matches without a great forward pack.

So, which group of forwards will have the greatest impact over the remainder of the 2020 season?

The experts at have had their say, with all of the leading contenders for the title attracting interest.

Experts view

Jamie Soward (former Blues five-eighth)

The Panthers have the best forward pack. They have a great mix of strength and toughness and then there is some finesse from Isaah Yeo. Then they have Api Koroisau who is the form hooker in the NRL.

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

The Storm forwards are a mix of workers, edge runners and powerhouses. They are all very disciplined and have Cameron Smith guiding them around. I love the work of Felise Kaufusi with his aggression in defence and I think Nelson Asofa-Solomona can be the trump card in the run to the finals.

Paul Suttor ( editor)

Now that John Bateman is back from injury and regaining peak form, Canberra have the ideal blend of X-factor, hard workers and power in their pack spearheaded by Josh Papalii to repeat last year's forward-propelled surge deep into the playoffs.

Storm confidence soars after win without Camerons

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

The Panthers pack has been so dominant this year and a big reason for the team's success. Most of them are in career-best form including James Fisher-Harris and Isaah Yeo. They continue to set the benchmark for Penrith's success with their dominance providing opportunities to the likes of Stephen Crichton and Nathan Cleary.

Lone Scout ( Fantasy guru)

The Storm have quietly assembled an excellent forward pack, with rep stars like Jesse Bromwich, Brandon Smith and Felise Kaufusi; underrated contributors like Dale Finucane, Christian Welch and Kenny Bromwich; towering impact men Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and the greatest dummy-half of all pulling the strings.

Eels hit back at premiership doubters

Dan Walsh ( reporter)

Melbourne. Any side that can keep Nelson Asofa-Solomona on the bench is packing serious power, and the emergence of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui as a NAS clone is borderline unfair. Dale Finucane’s injury is a blow but the fact Brandon Smith backs up both him and that other Smith gives the Storm unrivalled depth up front.

Brad Walter ( senior reporter)

It's not just the starting forwards but the strength of their bench that qualify the Storm pack as the best. Cameron Smith, Brandon Smith, Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Dale Finucane, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Christian Welch, Felise Kaufusi and Tino Faasuamaleaui provide the Storm with size, strength, speed, skill and smarts. 

Tanisha Stanton ( reporter)

Eels. This steamrolling pack deserve most of the credit for their side racking up the most post contact metres (9,424) and offloads (201) in the competition thus far – individually Junior Paulo (36), Ryan Matterson (23) and Shaun Lane (21) are all ranked in the top seven for keeping the ball alive. Reed Mahoney has been a weapon in defence, leading the competition in tackles made, with a solid 699.

Roosters keep SBW on ice despite injury toll

Joel Gould ( reporter)

When all are fit the Storm have the best-balanced pack and most effective in the game. Starting middles Christian Welch, Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane all get the job done with Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi dynamite on the edges. Maestro Cameron Smith pulls the strings and off the bench Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Brandon Smith and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui wreak havoc. 

Chris Kennedy ( reporter)

I reckon the Roosters, if we assume all of Boyd Cordner, Angus Crichton and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves return this week or next, just edge it out. They have two of the most damaging edge runners in the game, Siosiua Taukeiaho is one of the best and most consistent props going and JWH brings impact and aggression. Let’s not forget Sonny Bill Williams is back to stake a bench spot soon.

Solid food gives Soliola hope for return

Troy Whittaker ( reporter)

Parramatta. Props Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo have been among their best players, Ryan Matterson has fitted into the team seamlessly, Shaun Lane is still underrated and Nathan Brown brings the fear factor. Their assortment of bench players simply do the job.

Margie McDonald ( senior reporter)

Sea Eagles. I know current results aren’t showing it, but did anyone see Sean Keppie galloping up the field against the Knights last Sunday? Or Taniela Paseka draw and pass at speed to put Daly Cherry-Evans away to score? And they are both bench forwards at the Sea Eagles. The main men are international props Addin Fonua-Blake and Martin Taupau, supported by a peerless back row in Joel Thompson, Curtis Sironen and Jake Trbojevic. They have all bases covered.

Martin Lenehan ( senior journalist)

The Eels have the perfect mix of braun and brains. Reagan Campbell-Gillard is in career-best form, Junior Paulo is a halfback in a prop's body, Nathan Brown brings the mongrel, Reed Mahoney is dynamic out of dummy half and Ryan Matterson and Shaun Lane wreak havoc out wide.

Zac Bailey ( reporter)

The most complete pack has to be the Panthers. James Fisher-Harris and James Tamou lay the platform that allows Api Koroisau to control the tempo and cause havoc. Viliame Kikau is their strike weapon in attack, Liam Martin their mongrel in defence and Isaah Yeo the hard worker in the middle in career-best form. That unit is a big reason why they are top of the table.

Sironen: Wins the only remedy

Alicia Newton ( reporter)

The Storm at full strength leading into the finals should be considered the best. Their possible full strength bench alone – Brandon Smith, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Tui Kamikamica and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui – says it all – size and impact.

Kenny Scott ( Sunday Session podcaster)

With troops around the game dropping as the season goes on, the Raiders are the team with the best big boppers. Anchored by human wrecking ball Josh Papalii and tough nuggets in Havili and Whitehead, the pack has been boosted by the return of the John Bateman in recent weeks. If that's not enough, there is still more to come with the fiery Corey Horsburgh due to return a few weeks shy of the finals. Fan favourite Sia Soliola might just be able to sneak back in to keep banging the drum.


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

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