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Experts' view: Which 2020 non-finals team will be there in 2021?

The finals are still two weeks away, but for the eight teams who have missed out thoughts have turned to 2021.

Each of those sides will start next season determined to add at least one finals match to their campaign.

With that in mind, the experts at NRL.com have their say on which side they think is most likely to make the jump.

Manly, and the strong finishing Titans - who also have a host of big-name signings coming in the off-season - have attracted plenty of interest.

Expert's view

Jamie Soward (former Blues five-eighth)

Titans, for me, will have the most hype around them heading into the 2021 season however the Dragons will make the eight. New coach Anthony Griffin will bring fresh ideas and I think he will get the best out of that squad.

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Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

The Broncos can make the top eight next year when they get their best team on the park and a new coach to get the best out of them. I believe Kevin Walters will and should take the helm and he will get the likes of Anthony Milford, Jack Bird, Corey Oates and Joe Ofahengaue firing. There are better days ahead.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)

The Cowboys have the building blocks to be successful under new coach Todd Payten with the likes of Michael Morgan, Jason Taumalolo and Valentine Holmes in the squad. Morgan could rise into the elite playmakers again next year if he can shake off his recent run of injuries.

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Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

It has been a joy to watch the Titans improve so dramatically under Justin Holbrook. It took a few weeks for the coach to make his mark, but since then they have improved every week. With the likes of David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui on the way, they're good enough to do it.

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy guru)

If Tom Trbojevic can stay fit for the entire season the Sea Eagles should be good enough to break back into the eight, but the more interesting prospect is the Titans – with a few blockbuster signings in the forwards and some rising talents in the spine – making the leap from also-rans to genuine finals contenders.

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)

Wests Tigers. At some point, the penny drops. Surely. Right? Cronulla look particularly vulnerable on the edge of the eight and with James Tamou and Josh Addo-Carr odds-on to be coming in they will have the cavalry and the coach to knock them off. Provided they all pull in the same direction.

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

Justin Holbrook has turned the Titans into the best team in Queensland and next year they are set to be finals contenders after the recruitment of David Fiftia, Tino Faasuamaleaui and Herman Ese'ese to play alongside Brimson, Fogarty, Taylor and Fotuaika. 

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Tanisha Stanton (NRL.com reporter)

The Sea Eagles will be up there next year. Usually, one man doesn’t make a team but Tom Trbojevic is the exception. It will also depend on whether or not they are hit with another horror injury toll. 

Joel Gould (NRL.com reporter)

The Titans are on track for finals football in 2021. They have their spine in place with fullback AJ Brimson and half Jamal Fogarty both key pieces to the puzzle. With Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, David Fifita and Herman Ese'ese on the way and coach Justin Holbrook having another pre-season with the squad the Gold Coast will make the eight.

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

The Titans have shown some real promise in recent weeks. With a full season from the rapidly-improving AJ Brimson and the additions of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, David Fifita and Herman Ese'ese to the pack and another year under Justin Holbrook, the finals may not be beyond them.

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Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

Trent Barrett could have a Justin Holbrook-like effect on Canterbury next season and take them from cellar-dwellers to fringe finalists. The Bulldogs already have the effort and grit; they just need some attacking polish. 

Margie McDonald (NRL.com senior reporter)

Sea Eagles. You can't lose two valuable members of your spine in five-eighth (Dylan Walker) and fullback (Tom Trbojevic) for a large chunk of the season and keep pace. Put those two back in with the current Test halfback (Daly Cherry-Evans) and watch them soar.

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)

Given the quality and quantity of players on the Sea Eagles' injury list it's little wonder they've been left floundering in 2020. Add Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Walker, Jorge Taufua and exciting youngster Josh Schuster into a backline sparked by Daly Cherry-Evans and you've got a finals side in 2021.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

Sea Eagles. If Tom Trbojevic remains fit that is. Manly won four of six games this year when their fullback played. They've won just three from 12 without him. If Des Hasler's team is Turbo-charged in 2021 – they should return to finals footy.

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Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

With any luck on the travel front, the Warriors should grow an extra leg from their experiences in Australia this year and improve under Nathan Brown in 2021. The Warriors have Ben Murdoch-Masila, Kane Evans and Euan Aitken arriving next season to complement a team that has been forced to develop a host of players. 

Kenny Scott (NRL.com Sunday Session podcaster)

Earlier in 2020, Manly were at one stage looking like top-four certainties until their best player (Tom Trbojevic) was injured. They’ve got a gun team peppered with International and Origin stars and a coach that knows how to get the best from his players. They really only got the death wobbles in 2020 through injury so lock them in for a return to the finals in 2021.

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