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Great news for Titans and Warriors fans - your off-season acquisitions have created a bullish attitude about your chances of making the finals in 2021.

In the first experts' view for the year, those in the know at NRL.com have come up with the eight teams they think will reach the finals.

The heavyweights of recent years remain popular, but a pair of teams boasting new-look forward packs this season have attracted plenty of interest.

If the experts are not on the money, things aren't looking particularly great for a couple of teams that were still playing last October.

Experts' view - Top 8 in 2021

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

1. Panthers
2. Roosters
3. Rabbitohs
4. Raiders
5. Eels
6. Storm
7. Titans
8. Broncos

The Storm will miss Cameron Smith. That's the reason for having them finish further down the eight. Brisbane will learn a lot from their trial loss to the Cowboys and will be finishing off teams at the back end of games sooner rather than later.

Episode 1 - Footy returns for 2021

Jamie Soward (2010 premiership winner)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Panthers
3. Roosters
4. Raiders
5. Storm
6. Eels
7. Dragons 
8. Titans 

The Roosters will be back in a big way this year and refreshed after a year not going all the way in 2020. Look for the older brigade to have one more crack at another title. The Raiders need some luck and they find themselves in the premiership window for 2021. 

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

1. Storm
2. Rabbitohs
3. Roosters
4. Panthers
5. Raiders
6. Knights
7. Eels
8. Titans

The Storm and Rabbitohs will start the season well and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were in the top two by season’s end. The Titans will live up to the pre-season hype and be the only newcomers to the eight.

The key player signings to watch in 2021

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)

1. Raiders
2. Panthers
3. Rabbitohs
4. Storm
5. Titans
6. Roosters
7. Sharks
8. Bulldogs

Raiders and Panthers look like they're going to party like it's 1990 or 91, the Titans will take the leap from fringe finals team to borderline top-four side while the Bulldogs can cause a massive surprise by returning to the finals after their off-season overhaul.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

1. Rabbitohs
2. Raiders
3. Storm
4. Roosters
5. Panthers
6. Eels
7. Titans
8. Knights

Competitions aren’t won on paper, but it is hard to look past the Rabbitohs and Raiders as the two strongest teams. As always seventh and eighth spots are always up for grabs, but after some signing success over the off-season, I only see the Titans getting better and making the eight.

Ready to play? Join our league of strong and confident kids

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Storm
3. Roosters
4. Raiders
5. Titans
6. Panthers
7. Eels
8. Warriors

Souths looked likely premiers even before their Charity Shield fireworks. Harry Grant will help the Storm start the post-Smith era with the bang and the Roosters are always thereabouts. The Raiders are the only other team that looks like they can match it with the big three this year. The Sharks and Knights will drop out of the finals zone.

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy guru)

1. Roosters
2. Storm
3. Rabbitohs
4. Panthers
5. Raiders
6. Eels
7. Titans
8. Knights

The Roosters won two of the past three premierships and remain an elite side, Penrith are due some regression after a near flawless 2020 campaign and the improving Titans are strong enough to break into the eight.

Fox League 2021 season showcase

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Warriors
3. Panthers
4. Storm
5. Roosters
6. Raiders
7. Titans
8. Eels

Souths have a strong roster and have been knocking on the premiership door for three years, the Warriors have been the best off-season recruiters and won't have the same disruptions as last season. It is unlikely the Panthers can be as dominant as 2020 and the Titans are on the rise.

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Panthers
3. Storm
4. Raiders
5. Roosters
6. Eels 
7. Wests Tigers
8. Titans

South Sydney were an attacking juggernaut in the back half of 2020 and with a fit and firing Latrell Mitchell they’ll finish on top. The Wests Tigers have the cattle and the attitude to finally break their finals drought. 

Rookie reflections: Stephen Crichton

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Panthers
3. Raiders
4. Eels
5. Storm
6. Roosters
7. Titans
8. Warriors

The Rabbitohs are all class and will charge into their first grand final since 2014. The Titans and Warriors have recruited brilliantly and will charge into the top eight at the expense of the Knights and the Sharks.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Storm
3. Raiders
4. Panthers
5. Roosters
6. Eels
7. Titans
8. Knights

It’s a case of Titans in, Sharks out for my top eight in 2021. The Rabbitohs looked primed to run rampant this year in Wayne Bennett’s final year at the club, while the Titans will return to finals footy for the first time since 2016, following the recruitment of David Fifita, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Herman Ese'ese and Patrick Herbert.

Everybody’s heading to Magic Round

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

1. Storm
2. Rabbitohs
3. Roosters
4. Raiders
5. Eels
6. Panthers
7. Warriors
8. Wests Tigers

For last year’s grand finalists, the Storm will to stay to script, but the weight of expectation will hit the Panthers. Souths will send Bennett and Benji out on a high and the Wests Tigers’ new recruits’ enthusiasm will end the finals drought.

Paul Zalunardo (NRL.com senior journalist)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Raiders
3. Storm
4. Roosters
5. Panthers
6. Titans
7. Warriors
8. Eels

The Titans and Warriors both have top-eight level playing rosters. If they can live up to that they'll be there. Penrith had a dream run in 2020 but it's not often that happens twice in a row. Souths looks great. As for eighth, it was a coin-toss between the Eels and Sharks. It came up Eels.

 

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