Stephen’s NRL League Countdown Pt 1

Our resident Dragons fan Stephen Gallagher is back, with his take on who will finish where, in the 2012 NRL season. Here’s part 1 of his several part analysis.

“Back for another year, and as the league season sits only seven days away – I will give you my two cents worth on the up coming season with a briefing of where I think each club will finish. NRL is back! Bring it on! ”

16th: Sydney Roosters:
Hello: Daniel Mortimer (Eels), Anthony Mitchell (Eels)
Goodbye: Nate Myles (Titans), Todd Carney (Sharks)

The Roosters finished 2011 in 11th position, in a year spent headlining  papers for all the wrong reasons – in what was a sour year for the club. The off field incidents were too much for this Bondi based outfit. 2012 is a new year, and a new season you could say. However, this season is a rebuilding phase for the club. Their best is about three years away sadly. This year will be beneficial for them, just not in terms of wins and ladder position. They might not be able to compete with the big boys.

THUMBS DOWN:
Losing a lot of mongrel and workload in Nate Myles and Jason Ryles, means there is plenty of youth on board, but without the experience to mentor them through the season, it could make the season longer than it actually is.

THUMBS UP:
Brian Smith and Matthew Elliott have a pool of potential for years to come, and there’d be no better coach to learn your trade under in the NRL, than these two.

15th: Brisbane Broncos
Hello: Petero Civoniceva (Panthers)
Goodbye: Darren Lockyer (Retirement)

Darren Lockyer. Need I say more? This club has been built on the back of one individual for close to twenty years. There’s no denying his loss on the field will be tremendous. Having Civoniceva back will be an added bonus, but this year will be about trying to establish themselves post-Locky. That to me is going to be a massive hurdle for this club. Does one man really make that much difference? By the halfway mark in this season, we will know for sure. They may lack the strike-power needed to compete.

THUMBS DOWN:
A lack of direction could hinder the Broncos from achieving their full potential. No doubt they have some big names, but it’s whether or not they will cope without Lockyer.

THUMBS UP:
This club is very attractive for young up and coming players. Especially in the halves department. Why would you not want to go to Brisbane?

14th: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Hello: Ben Farrar (Les Catalans -ESL)
Goodbye: Des Hasler (Bulldogs), Will Hopoate (Two year Mormon mission)

The reigning premiers had an unusual off season. A team that deserved the accolades it achieved in 2011, has since been in a bitter media battle which the Hasler-less Sea Eagles have copped full force. A team always under the media’s watchful eye now has all this attention, and could find its self a negative nancy for this team trying to defend its premiership title. A fall from grace is on the cards. There’s also the dreaded curse of Second Year Syndrome for Daly Cherry-Evans.

THUMBS DOWN:
Hasler turned his back on the Sea Eagles, and will revenge so personnel that it affects their on field performance?

THUMBS UP:
Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran team up again. Simply breathtaking to watch in action.

13th: Penrith Panthers
Hello: Clint Newton (Hull KR-ESL), Chris Armit (Bulldogs)
Goodbye: Trent Waterhouse (Warrington-ESL), Petero Civoniceva (Broncos)

Penrith are definitely in a rebuilding phase. They have lost a lot of leadership and impact up front, which is the main reason I have picked them to finish 13th in 2012. The boys at the foot of the Blue Mountains are however, on the right track for the future. With Gus Gould back in the mix and Ivan Clearly coaching them – the outlook is very bright. Just lacking that crucial X factor this season will be the difference between success and failure.

THUMBS DOWN:
The gaps left by Trent Waterhouse and Petero Civoniceva are too big to fill in one year. Both in leadership and physicality.

THUMBS UP:
Travis Burns and Luke Walsh enter their third year together in the halves. A very good thing.

SWT Gallagher

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