You may have seen part 1 of his pre-season overview tipping a few days ago and the Tipping Guru Tipping Point is back again, with part 2. Some teams are always easier to tip than others and the question always remains, do your tip with your heart or with your head.
North Queensland Cowboys
2015 record: Won 17, lost 7, finished 3rd (premiers); 8/12 at 1300SMILES Stadium in regular season [1/1 at 1300SMILES Stadium in finals]
The reigning premiers will be hoping to become the first side since Brisbane in 1992-93 to win consecutive titles. They head into 2016 with the luxury of fielding a virtually identical roster, and are certainties for the top four. From a tipping perspective, the Cowboys are close to unstoppable once they hit their stride; they dropped just one game between rounds four and 21 last season which included impressive wins during the Origin period including away victories minus their rep players against the Tigers and Dragons. They are however noted for their sluggish starts to seasons, and theyâ€™ll need their wits about them early on as they take on the Sharks (H), Eels (A), Roosters (H) and Broncos (A) in the opening four rounds. And unlike previous years, every side will be gunning for them, and looking to knock the champions off their pedestal.
2015 record: Won 9, lost 15, finished 12th; 3/9 at Pirtek Stadium, 0/2 at ANZ Stadium (as home team) and 1/1 at Darwin.
With a new-look roster the Eels head into 2016 full of confidence. With Michael Jennings, Michael Gordon, Beau Scott and new skipper Kieran Foran now donning the blue and gold, a top eight finish looms as a distinct possibility. The draw does them no favours though, pitting them against last yearâ€™s grand finalists in rounds one and two, followed by their arch-rivals Canterbury in round three. Tipping-wise the Eels are traditionally known for playing out-of-their-skins at Pirtek, but being prone to second-half fadeouts and golden point losses. If youâ€™ve tipped them, donâ€™t bank on the two points until the final whistle.
2015 record: Won 9, lost 15, finished 11th; 6/11 at Pepper Stadium; 1/1 at Bathurst.
Such was their injury toll last season, you must take Penrithâ€™s mediocre 2015 results with a grain of salt. Itâ€™s easy to forget that this side was just a game away from the grand final in 2014, so they are a vastly better side than their nine wins in 2015 would have you believe. With some quality signings (Trent Merrin, Peta Hiku) bolstering an already strong roster, the Panthers should be among the big improvers in 2016. Theyâ€™re tough to beat at Pepper Stadium and they always aim up, especially in big games. Upset wins are always a chance with the Panthers, but they are prone to a few blow-outs on the road.
St George-Illawarra Dragons
2015 record: Won 11, lost 13, finished 8th (semi-finalists); 3/4 at Jubilee; 3/4 at WIN Stadium; 2/2 at ANZ; 0/1 at SCG; 0/1 at Allianz Stadium.
The Dragons were another side that ruined my tipping last year. By the time I jumped on their winning bandwagon and started backing them in 2015, they started their epic seven-game losing streak â€“ I just could not get on their wavelength. With only a few noted signings (Tim Lafai, Dunamis Lui, Kalifa Faifai Loa), the Dragons are friendless in pre-season betting â€“ and with good reason. They have arguably the toughest draw with two fixtures against all of last seasonâ€™s top eight sides, and theyâ€™ll also be without Trent Merrin. I canâ€™t see them faring as well as last season, but Iâ€™ll always give them hope when theyâ€™re playing at home. When it comes to playing bottom-four sides, they do tend to get the job done which is testament to their steady, consistent play and tough defence.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
2015 record: Won 13, lost 11, finished 7th (quarter finalists); 7/9 at ANZ Stadium [1/2 at ANZ as away team and 0/1 in finals]; 1/1 at Perth; 0/1 at Cains; 1/1 at SCG.
The Bunniesâ€™ premiership defence was a tale of two halves with the Bunnies blitzing the field in the first half of the season, only to fall away badly with just five wins from round 14 onwards. They welcome back prodigal son Sam Burgess, but theyâ€™ve shed some talent to afford him, with premiership players Issac Luke, Dylan Walker and Chris McQueen joining Glenn Stewart, Ben Lowe and Joel Reddy in the departure lounge. Theyâ€™ll be in the mix for the top eight, but the days of competing for the minor premiership might be over. Tipping wise theyâ€™re a pretty safe bet when playing at home, but they do tend to struggle without Greg Inglis and Adam Reynolds on deck.
2015 record: Won 18, lost 6, finished 1st (preliminary finalists); 9/11 at Allianz Stadium, 1/1 at Central Coast; 1/1 at Allianz Stadium as away team and 1/2 in finals.
The tri-colours head into season 2016 in an unfamiliar position: complete disarray. Used to coasting through the pre-season as warm premiership favorites, the Roosters have their work cut out for them just making the eight this season. Not only have they lost James Maloney, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Michael Jennings, but Jared Warea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner are expected to miss the first half of the season, and thereâ€™s no word on Mitchell Pearceâ€™s return. By my count, thatâ€™s six premiership players missing, and no marquee recruits to speak of. With such a depleted roster I can see them dropping their first four matches, and it could be a long road back to finals footy for the chooks.
New Zealand Warriors
2015 record: Won 9, lost 15, finished 13th; 5/11 at Mount Smart Stadium, 0/1 at Wellington.
You have to love the Warriors. Year-in year-out they are rated among premiership heavyweights, but every year they disappoint. I suspect this year will be different, as I can confidently say they have the best roster ever assembled for a Warriors side â€“ heads will roll if they donâ€™t make the eight. As a tipster, the Warriors are your worst nightmare due to their enigmatic nature; they can beat anyone on their day, and get demolished by anyone on their day. Historically though the Warriors start seasons poorly (almost guaranteed to lose their opening round fixture), end seasons poorly (they didnâ€™t win a game after round 18 last year), but deliver a blitz in the middle of the season. Good luck.
2015 record: Won 8, lost 16, finished 15th; 1/4 at Leichhardt Oval; 2/4 at Campbelltown Stadium; 1/4 at ANZ (2/3 at ANZ as away team).
With an off-season packed with controversy and a departure lounge packed with talent and experience, things do not bode well for the joint venture in 2016. The Tigers have finished in the bottom four for the past three seasons, and with their roster showing no signs of improvement it shapes as a long year. This will be the season that makes or breaks their maligned halves combination of Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses, and it could be the making or breaking of Jason Taylorâ€™s coaching career. That said, when their halves and forwards turn up, the class of James Tedesco is enough to deliver a few victories â€“ but I think my default setting will be to tip against them in 2016.
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