Round 1 2020 Preview

Big Pete

International Captain
26,049
10,578
Brisbane
We're 71 days away from the launch of the 2020 season and while we're still well and truly in the throes of the off-season, it's never too early to get a general idea of how the action is going to unfold.

Parramatta Eels
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson
6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses
8. Junior Paulo 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Kane Evans 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Shaun Lane 13. Nathan Brown
14. Jaeman Salmon 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. Marata Niukore 17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Meaney 3. Will Hopoate 4. Marcelo Montoya 5. Reimis Smith
6. Lachlan Lewis 7. Jack Cogger
8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Joe Stimson 13. Adam Elliott

14. Sione Katoa 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Corey Harawira-Naera

The Eels may have come up with the buy of the season in Matterson. The Eels enjoy attacking from short sides which is where Matterson can be extremely effective as the second best play-making edge forward in the game (just behind Graham). The Bulldogs had a genuine weakness with their left edge defence, so I can see Blake and Ferguson causing them all kinds of distress.

I can't see Canterbury changing their approach too much. They'll beat a few teams on effort but they're still a class below a lot of top teams. Their hopes rest on Watene-Zelezniak. There was a time where Dallin was spoken of in similar terms as Tuivasa-Sheck, Tedesco, Trbojevic, Mitchell etc. as this freakish talent. His arrival at the club last season saw them come incredibly close to an unlikely finals appearance, so if they can build on that and utilise his skill-set further, they could have that point of attack they've sorely been missing.

I suspect it will be one of those games where Canterbury enjoy the lions share of possession but will struggle to capitilise. Parra will score a bunch of cheap tries and the scoreline won't be an accurate reflection of where they're really at.

Canberra Raiders
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Bailey Simonsson
6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams
8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joe Tapine

14. BJ Leilua 15. Emre Guler 16. Sia Soliola 17. Corey Horsburgh

Gold Coast Titans
1. AJ Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami
6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ash Taylor
8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan James 13. Nathan Peats

14. Bryce Cartwright 15. Shannon Boyd 16. Jai Whitbread 17. Keegan Hipgrave

Gut check time for Canberra. They caught a lot of people off-guard with their grinding style of football and while it nearly took them the entire way, they'll have to find another level. They've drafted in George Williams with the hope that he can guide them around the park more effectively. I've seen very little of Williams, but from what I have seen, he'll do extremely well to be a top halfback in the competition. Ricky has enjoyed a lot of success with his imports so far, this maybe a bridge too far in this instance.

However, this is the Gold Coast we're talking about. Last year was a disaster and with Arrow's departure imminent it's going to take time before they even give themselves a chance. Their line-up certainly has a couple of tries in them, the issue is that they get bullied too easily. Their forward pack is great at bending the line, but that's basically it. They can't match teams for speed and with the defensive weaknesses outwide they usually lose their grip on the contest very easily.

For their sake, I hope things pick up after Arrow's departure. Last year was a lost season where the club failed to build on any positives they had established prior. For their sake, hopefully they can nail down a team.

Canberra will win in a game that will effectively be a bye.

North Queensland Cowboys
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Esan Marsters 4. Tom Opacic 5. Justin O’Neil
6. Michael Morgan 7. Jake Clifford
8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo

14. Reece Robson 15. Coen Hess 16. John Asiata 17. Francis Molo

Brisbane Broncos
1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Jack Bird 5. Darius Boyd
6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft
8. Matt Lodge 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. David Fifita 13. Tevita Pangai Jr

14. Cory Paix 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Patrick Carrigan

Will Valentine Holmes hit the ground running? That's effectively the question of the Cowboys 2020 season. Before he left, Valentine was one of the best runners of the football and could break the line with the best of them. The Cowboys are an extremely structured side, they'll roll through plays 1-4 before they'll use one of their structured set plays. With a running fullback, I suspect they'll go back to their old play and utilise a couple of plays they used to use for Morgan. There will likely be some teething problems, but against this Broncos defense, I suspect at least two of them will come off.

Brisbane are still in a state of flux. Despite finishing in the Top 8, last year was a disaster and they've effectively been made to start over. Three new members have been introduced to the spine to help guide the team around more efficiently, while Milford returns to six after a mixed stint at fullback. It's not all bad news as they have two really good players in Haas and Fifita but they're well and truly a work in progress.

Either it's going to be a really close game of the good, the bad and the ugly or it could get really ugly for the Broncos. There is a lot riding on this game for the Cowboys and I think there's every possibility that Green has them preparing for this game specifically as we speak.

Newcastle Knights
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Enari Tuala 5. Bradman Best
6. Connor Watson 7. Mitchell Pearce
8. David Klemmer 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Sione Mata’utia 13. Mitch Barnett
14. Danny Levi 15. Herman Ese’ese 16. Tim Glasby 17. Aidan Guerra

Warriors
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Gerard Beale 5. Ken Maumalo
6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green
8. Agnatius Paasi 9. Wayde Egan 10. Leeson Ah Mau 11. Tohu Harris 12. Isaiah Papalii 13. Jazz Tevaga

14. Karl Lawton 15. Adam Blair 16. Josh Curran 17. Bunty Afoa

I thought Newcastle showed some really good signs until Origin derailed their season. Once they got Ponga, Pearce and Watson working together more effectively, they were just rolling through their plays effortlessly and it appeared they had the makings of a Top 4 side. With another season on board and a new perspective, I believe they can find that consistensy, albeit there will be some teething issues along the way. They really need these young players like Tuala, Best, Crossland, Fermor etc. to compliment the team. Watching the Knights, sometimes it appeared the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing.

The Warriors are still struggling with life after Shaun Johnson and RTS has too much responsibility on his shoulders. I thought he was great last year and he kept the Warriors in a lot of contests, but he needs more support. The Warriors are extremely similar to the Bulldogs otherwise. They beat a lot of teamson effort and they rarely give the game away which historically was their biggest issue. They just lack the strike of the better teams. Outside of Tuivasa-Sheck, their most effective player is Tohu Harris.

I'm favouring Newcastle at home, unless they try to subvert expectations like last year they should be too settled for this Warriors line-up.

South Sydney Rabbitohs
1. Adam Doueihi 2. Alex Johnston 3. James Roberts 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham
6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds
8. Tom Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Jai Arrow 11. Ethan Lowe 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Cameron Murray
14. Liam Knight 15. Tevita Tatola 16. Tom Amone 17. Corey Allan

Cronulla Sharks
1. Matt Moylan 2. Ronaldo Mulitalo 3. Josh Morris 4. Bronson Xerri 5. Josh Dugan
6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend
8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Wade Graham 12. Briton Nikora 13. Jack Williams
14. Jesse Ramien 15. Braden Uele 16. Billy Magoulias 17. Jayson Bukuya

The biggest challenge for Bennett is getting Su'A back on track. In 2018, he was one of the brightest prospects coming through and appeared destined for Origin. Then Fifita came along and was one of the brightest prospects in decades and stole his thunder. Coming back from an ankle injury, he struggled and now he's got an off-season under a coach who understands his game. I'm curious to see which side he'll play on, I feel him and Walker could be a great combination together, especially if he can learn to hit a hole. Otherwise Souths are one of the more settled line-ups in the competition and should win a lot of games on experience. I also suspect they'll get Arrow early and Gagai will end up departing for another club.

Cronulla are tough to get a read on. They were the most inconsistent teams in the competition and they lost the most amount of games they were entitled to win. They're a victim of being too talented in a way. Moylan and Johnson worked against one another on several occassions and it prevented Cronulla from putting the foot on the throat when they had the chance. Still, if they can settle, Cronulla should have too much strike for a lot of teams, especially with the backs they have coming through and with Graham on an edge.

A tough game to predict, I feel Cook will be the difference and Souths will show more respect for possession. I can see it being a game of two halves.

Penrith Panthers
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Brent Naden 5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary
8. James Tamou 9. Api Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo

14. Mitch Kenny 15. Moses Leota 16. Liam Martin 17. Zane Tetevano

Sydney Roosters
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Brett Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Ryan Hall
6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan
8. Jared Warea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Victor Radley

14. Mitchell Aubusson 15. Isaac Liu 16. Nat Butcher 17. Sitili Tupouniua

Penrith should be more composed this year. I think Ivan's arrival put a lot of players on edge, including his son who was struggling to find his role in a team with James Maloney, the best five eighth NSW have had since Freddy. They made it out the other side and a lot of players will be better for the experience. I'm very interested to see how Luai performs alongside Cleary. They played a lot together in juniors and their games compliment each other nicely.

The Roosters are just so incredibly well drilled at this point, I think they can book their place in September already with or without Latrell. All eyes will be on Flanagan. He really hasn't played enough first grade to give a fair impression of himself, if he can find his voice, the Roosters shouldn't miss a beat. Unless the Rugby rumours are true, I suspect Crichton will be in for a big year after a disappointing 2019.

Manly Sea Eagles
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick
6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Cade Cust 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic

14. Lachlan Croker 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka

Melbourne Storm
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane

14. Brandon Smith 15. Christian Welch 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui

Des did an excellent job under difficult circumstances. Manly got back to the rugged style that worked so well for them in the mid to late 2000s typified by guys like Trbojevic and Gosiewski. With Tommy back on board, Manly should be a top four side even without Fainu.

Melbourne are beginning to look incredibly shabby in the backs and next year is shaping up poorly thus far, but I can't write them off. Still the best drilled side in the competition and they just have so much class around the park. They typically win the arm wrestle and eventually one of their players comes up with some individual brilliance very few in the competition can conjure up.

Game of the round and I can't wait to see it. I think Bellamy will exploit a few weaknesses in Des' line-up particularly out-wide and they'll grind away to a 16-12 type of win.

St. George Illawarra Dragons
1. Tristan Sailor 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Zac Lomax
6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt
8. Paul Vaughan 9. Issac Luke 10. James Graham 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Trent Merrin

14. Blake Lawrie 15. Korbin Sims 16. Jacob Host 17. Matt Dufty

Wests Tigers
1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Moses Mbye 5. Robert Jennings
6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks
8. Alex Twal 9. Josh Reynolds 10. Tom Mikaele 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor

14. Billy Walters 15. Matt Eisenhuth 16. Josh Aloiai 17. Michael Chee-Kam

The Dragons just look lost without de Belin and Widdop. I really hope McGregor is a better selector than I give them credit for, because there are just pieces in that side that no longer fit. Outside of a couple of players, the forward pack looks really soft and the backline just doesn't provide the halves with any support. I hope with Widdop gone, McGregor devises more suitable structures for his halves so the Dragons can use the ball more effectively.

Wests need some work. Right now, I think there are only four members of that seventeen I'd want to keep around in the long term. There are just so many bit players and while some of them give an honest account, they're just around to hold the fort. I think they'll undergo the biggest transformation of all the sides this year and their Round 26 side will look vastly different.

I was rough on Wests, in truth they usually give a good account of themselves and I think they'll do so here. They'll be more composed with the football and take their chances when they're on offer. St George will look more threatening, but they struggle to capitilise on their opportunities.
 
We're 71 days away from the launch of the 2020 season and while we're still well and truly in the throes of the off-season, it's never too early to get a general idea of how the action is going to unfold.

Parramatta Eels
1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson
6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses
8. Junior Paulo 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Kane Evans 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Shaun Lane 13. Nathan Brown
14. Jaeman Salmon 15. Daniel Alvaro 16. Marata Niukore 17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Meaney 3. Will Hopoate 4. Marcelo Montoya 5. Reimis Smith
6. Lachlan Lewis 7. Jack Cogger
8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Joe Stimson 13. Adam Elliott

14. Sione Katoa 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Corey Harawira-Naera

The Eels may have come up with the buy of the season in Matterson. The Eels enjoy attacking from short sides which is where Matterson can be extremely effective as the second best play-making edge forward in the game (just behind Graham). The Bulldogs had a genuine weakness with their left edge defence, so I can see Blake and Ferguson causing them all kinds of distress.

I can't see Canterbury changing their approach too much. They'll beat a few teams on effort but they're still a class below a lot of top teams. Their hopes rest on Watene-Zelezniak. There was a time where Dallin was spoken of in similar terms as Tuivasa-Sheck, Tedesco, Trbojevic, Mitchell etc. as this freakish talent. His arrival at the club last season saw them come incredibly close to an unlikely finals appearance, so if they can build on that and utilise his skill-set further, they could have that point of attack they've sorely been missing.

I suspect it will be one of those games where Canterbury enjoy the lions share of possession but will struggle to capitilise. Parra will score a bunch of cheap tries and the scoreline won't be an accurate reflection of where they're really at.

Canberra Raiders
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Bailey Simonsson
6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams
8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joe Tapine

14. BJ Leilua 15. Emre Guler 16. Sia Soliola 17. Corey Horsburgh

Gold Coast Titans
1. AJ Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Tyrone Peachey 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami
6. Tyrone Roberts 7. Ash Taylor
8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan James 13. Nathan Peats

14. Bryce Cartwright 15. Shannon Boyd 16. Jai Whitbread 17. Keegan Hipgrave

Gut check time for Canberra. They caught a lot of people off-guard with their grinding style of football and while it nearly took them the entire way, they'll have to find another level. They've drafted in George Williams with the hope that he can guide them around the park more effectively. I've seen very little of Williams, but from what I have seen, he'll do extremely well to be a top halfback in the competition. Ricky has enjoyed a lot of success with his imports so far, this maybe a bridge too far in this instance.

However, this is the Gold Coast we're talking about. Last year was a disaster and with Arrow's departure imminent it's going to take time before they even give themselves a chance. Their line-up certainly has a couple of tries in them, the issue is that they get bullied too easily. Their forward pack is great at bending the line, but that's basically it. They can't match teams for speed and with the defensive weaknesses outwide they usually lose their grip on the contest very easily.

For their sake, I hope things pick up after Arrow's departure. Last year was a lost season where the club failed to build on any positives they had established prior. For their sake, hopefully they can nail down a team.

Canberra will win in a game that will effectively be a bye.

North Queensland Cowboys
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Esan Marsters 4. Tom Opacic 5. Justin O’Neil
6. Michael Morgan 7. Jake Clifford
8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo

14. Reece Robson 15. Coen Hess 16. John Asiata 17. Francis Molo

Brisbane Broncos
1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Jack Bird 5. Darius Boyd
6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft
8. Matt Lodge 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. David Fifita 13. Tevita Pangai Jr

14. Cory Paix 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Patrick Carrigan

Will Valentine Holmes hit the ground running? That's effectively the question of the Cowboys 2020 season. Before he left, Valentine was one of the best runners of the football and could break the line with the best of them. The Cowboys are an extremely structured side, they'll roll through plays 1-4 before they'll use one of their structured set plays. With a running fullback, I suspect they'll go back to their old play and utilise a couple of plays they used to use for Morgan. There will likely be some teething problems, but against this Broncos defense, I suspect at least two of them will come off.

Brisbane are still in a state of flux. Despite finishing in the Top 8, last year was a disaster and they've effectively been made to start over. Three new members have been introduced to the spine to help guide the team around more efficiently, while Milford returns to six after a mixed stint at fullback. It's not all bad news as they have two really good players in Haas and Fifita but they're well and truly a work in progress.

Either it's going to be a really close game of the good, the bad and the ugly or it could get really ugly for the Broncos. There is a lot riding on this game for the Cowboys and I think there's every possibility that Green has them preparing for this game specifically as we speak.

Newcastle Knights
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Enari Tuala 5. Bradman Best
6. Connor Watson 7. Mitchell Pearce
8. David Klemmer 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Sione Mata’utia 13. Mitch Barnett
14. Danny Levi 15. Herman Ese’ese 16. Tim Glasby 17. Aidan Guerra

Warriors
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Gerard Beale 5. Ken Maumalo
6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green
8. Agnatius Paasi 9. Wayde Egan 10. Leeson Ah Mau 11. Tohu Harris 12. Isaiah Papalii 13. Jazz Tevaga

14. Karl Lawton 15. Adam Blair 16. Josh Curran 17. Bunty Afoa

I thought Newcastle showed some really good signs until Origin derailed their season. Once they got Ponga, Pearce and Watson working together more effectively, they were just rolling through their plays effortlessly and it appeared they had the makings of a Top 4 side. With another season on board and a new perspective, I believe they can find that consistensy, albeit there will be some teething issues along the way. They really need these young players like Tuala, Best, Crossland, Fermor etc. to compliment the team. Watching the Knights, sometimes it appeared the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing.

The Warriors are still struggling with life after Shaun Johnson and RTS has too much responsibility on his shoulders. I thought he was great last year and he kept the Warriors in a lot of contests, but he needs more support. The Warriors are extremely similar to the Bulldogs otherwise. They beat a lot of teamson effort and they rarely give the game away which historically was their biggest issue. They just lack the strike of the better teams. Outside of Tuivasa-Sheck, their most effective player is Tohu Harris.

I'm favouring Newcastle at home, unless they try to subvert expectations like last year they should be too settled for this Warriors line-up.

South Sydney Rabbitohs
1. Adam Doueihi 2. Alex Johnston 3. James Roberts 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham
6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds
8. Tom Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Jai Arrow 11. Ethan Lowe 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Cameron Murray
14. Liam Knight 15. Tevita Tatola 16. Tom Amone 17. Corey Allan

Cronulla Sharks
1. Matt Moylan 2. Ronaldo Mulitalo 3. Josh Morris 4. Bronson Xerri 5. Josh Dugan
6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend
8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Wade Graham 12. Briton Nikora 13. Jack Williams
14. Jesse Ramien 15. Braden Uele 16. Billy Magoulias 17. Jayson Bukuya

The biggest challenge for Bennett is getting Su'A back on track. In 2018, he was one of the brightest prospects coming through and appeared destined for Origin. Then Fifita came along and was one of the brightest prospects in decades and stole his thunder. Coming back from an ankle injury, he struggled and now he's got an off-season under a coach who understands his game. I'm curious to see which side he'll play on, I feel him and Walker could be a great combination together, especially if he can learn to hit a hole. Otherwise Souths are one of the more settled line-ups in the competition and should win a lot of games on experience. I also suspect they'll get Arrow early and Gagai will end up departing for another club.

Cronulla are tough to get a read on. They were the most inconsistent teams in the competition and they lost the most amount of games they were entitled to win. They're a victim of being too talented in a way. Moylan and Johnson worked against one another on several occassions and it prevented Cronulla from putting the foot on the throat when they had the chance. Still, if they can settle, Cronulla should have too much strike for a lot of teams, especially with the backs they have coming through and with Graham on an edge.

A tough game to predict, I feel Cook will be the difference and Souths will show more respect for possession. I can see it being a game of two halves.

Penrith Panthers
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Brent Naden 5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary
8. James Tamou 9. Api Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo

14. Mitch Kenny 15. Moses Leota 16. Liam Martin 17. Zane Tetevano

Sydney Roosters
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Brett Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Ryan Hall
6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan
8. Jared Warea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Victor Radley

14. Mitchell Aubusson 15. Isaac Liu 16. Nat Butcher 17. Sitili Tupouniua

Penrith should be more composed this year. I think Ivan's arrival put a lot of players on edge, including his son who was struggling to find his role in a team with James Maloney, the best five eighth NSW have had since Freddy. They made it out the other side and a lot of players will be better for the experience. I'm very interested to see how Luai performs alongside Cleary. They played a lot together in juniors and their games compliment each other nicely.

The Roosters are just so incredibly well drilled at this point, I think they can book their place in September already with or without Latrell. All eyes will be on Flanagan. He really hasn't played enough first grade to give a fair impression of himself, if he can find his voice, the Roosters shouldn't miss a beat. Unless the Rugby rumours are true, I suspect Crichton will be in for a big year after a disappointing 2019.

Manly Sea Eagles
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick
6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Cade Cust 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic

14. Lachlan Croker 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka

Melbourne Storm
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane

14. Brandon Smith 15. Christian Welch 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui

Des did an excellent job under difficult circumstances. Manly got back to the rugged style that worked so well for them in the mid to late 2000s typified by guys like Trbojevic and Gosiewski. With Tommy back on board, Manly should be a top four side even without Fainu.

Melbourne are beginning to look incredibly shabby in the backs and next year is shaping up poorly thus far, but I can't write them off. Still the best drilled side in the competition and they just have so much class around the park. They typically win the arm wrestle and eventually one of their players comes up with some individual brilliance very few in the competition can conjure up.

Game of the round and I can't wait to see it. I think Bellamy will exploit a few weaknesses in Des' line-up particularly out-wide and they'll grind away to a 16-12 type of win.

St. George Illawarra Dragons
1. Tristan Sailor 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Zac Lomax
6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt
8. Paul Vaughan 9. Issac Luke 10. James Graham 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. Trent Merrin

14. Blake Lawrie 15. Korbin Sims 16. Jacob Host 17. Matt Dufty

Wests Tigers
1. Corey Thompson 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Moses Mbye 5. Robert Jennings
6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks
8. Alex Twal 9. Josh Reynolds 10. Tom Mikaele 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Elijah Taylor

14. Billy Walters 15. Matt Eisenhuth 16. Josh Aloiai 17. Michael Chee-Kam

The Dragons just look lost without de Belin and Widdop. I really hope McGregor is a better selector than I give them credit for, because there are just pieces in that side that no longer fit. Outside of a couple of players, the forward pack looks really soft and the backline just doesn't provide the halves with any support. I hope with Widdop gone, McGregor devises more suitable structures for his halves so the Dragons can use the ball more effectively.

Wests need some work. Right now, I think there are only four members of that seventeen I'd want to keep around in the long term. There are just so many bit players and while some of them give an honest account, they're just around to hold the fort. I think they'll undergo the biggest transformation of all the sides this year and their Round 26 side will look vastly different.

I was rough on Wests, in truth they usually give a good account of themselves and I think they'll do so here. They'll be more composed with the football and take their chances when they're on offer. St George will look more threatening, but they struggle to capitilise on their opportunities.
brilliant post....really enjoyed reading it ...acurate assesment all round... think the broncs will be stinging from the eels debacle and come out swinging against the cows ...ambush time
 

Unbreakable

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I've got some question marks over some of your projected lineups, but I'll start with the Titans.

Surely they're not going to write off Callum Watkins after those terrible 6 games at the end of last season with an interim coach and ever-changing roster?

I still think Peachey is crap, if he's in the side he should be on the bench. I'm also not a fan of the Peats at Lock experiment, that really didn't work last season.

1. Brimson
2. Don / Copley
3. Kelly
4. Watkins
5. Sami / Pearson
6. Roberts
7. Taylor
8. Wallace
9. Peats
10. Fotuaika
11. Cartwright
12. Proctor
13. James (c)

14. Rein
15. Peachey
16. S.Boyd
17. Whitbread / Hipgrave
 

Big Pete

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I based the line-ups on what I think they'll go with, not necessarily what I would want to see.

Peachey is one of the Gold Coast's biggest priorities, so they'll try to find room for him in the starting side. They could throw him in at 13, but the centres sound more likely even with the depth they currently possess. 13 is a real trouble area and like the Broncos, I can see the Gold Coast auditioning a bunch of guys, I just see Peats and Whitbread as the most likely since they have experience there.

Considering the Gold Coast just signed Sami on a two year deal, I think they'll give him every opportunity to lock down a spot in the backline. He's one of their brighter prospects and I think the new coach will try to pride himself on developing players like him Brimson, Fotuaika, Whitbread etc.

Don was close to facing the axe, but with the new interpretations, I think you'll see a lot of wingers picked purely based on their ability in the air.
 

I bleed Maroon

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Why would they though? They don't have another 13, let alone one as good as he is.
True, but he's also made it abundantly clear his head is already halfway out the door. That's the last attitude the Titans need from one of their best players right at this moment. It would be like us trying to keep Roberts around after it was clear he had clocked off.
 

Sproj

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True, but he's also made it abundantly clear his head is already halfway out the door. That's the last attitude the Titans need from one of their best players right at this moment. It would be like us trying to keep Roberts around after it was clear he had clocked off.
Fair point for sure but he isn't the same kind of dropkick personality either. He is an extremely hard worker and isn't inclined towards dummy spits. He would still give 110%, there are rep jumpers on the line at least.
 

I bleed Maroon

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Fair point for sure but he isn't the same kind of dropkick personality either. He is an extremely hard worker and isn't inclined towards dummy spits. He would still give 110%, there are rep jumpers on the line at least.
That would be what the Titans would be hanging on if they were intent on him seeing his contract out, but they also need to factor in other issues like their cap situation and actually finding a long term replacement for him, because as you said, they have nobody else.
 

Allo

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Why would they though? They don't have another 13, let alone one as good as he is.
I think Whitbread has played there hasn't he? Whether or not he's actually a lock is a different question.

They could always go full meme and play Hipgrave there again in between him getting sent off and/or suspended
 

Big Pete

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I can't see Arrow sticking around. The major reason why he chose to sign with South Sydney was to aid his partner's modelling career and Souths want him ASAP. They will move a few players around (which is why I have Gagai missing) to facilitate the move.

Holbrook will want to make his stamp on the club and won't hesitate to free up money in the cap to sign the players he wants.

When Arrow departs, the Gold Coast will only have 25 contracted players, so it'll be interesting to see who gets promoted or if they can make a play for Latrell.

They currently have 11 players in their extended squad. Compain, Pere, Seiuli and Sexton are development players while Campbell, Clark, Edwards, Evans, Gerrard, Khan-Pereira and Powell are trialing for a place.

Outside of Pere, Gerrard and Clark the squad is made up of Under 20s and Under 18s prospects. Maybe one or two could make the jump, but you would want to be mindful of their development.
 
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Allo

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Latrell on assumedly big money would be the most peak Titans signing. He’d need to have James-Roberts-at-Titans impact for it to be worth it for the Titans. Although they’re slowly lowering their number of overpaid players and every club needs a couple
 

I bleed Maroon

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Latrell on assumedly big money would be the most peak Titans signing. He’d need to have James-Roberts-at-Titans impact for it to be worth it for the Titans. Although they’re slowly lowering their number of overpaid players and every club needs a couple
The Titans going after Mitchell is the Hayne signing all over again. They're going for bums on seats, which isn't a terrible strategy per se, they clearly need the financial support and to try and build that fanbase up, but again it's not going to help them in the long term having a player with Latrell's piss poor attitude mixing with their youngsters.
 

BroncsFan

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Followed closely by signing Gagai, which is looking very likely.
Giving Arrow away 12 months early to pick up the tab on Gagai (plus another 3 years) is just ridiculously stupid

They won't free up enough cash to sign Latrell, so releasing Arrow just does not help them... it would only serve to strengthen the opposition for absolutely no gain to them or worse to take on their worst contract ie. Gagai
 

Big Pete

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Which is why it would be peak Gold Coast.

I can see them releasing Arrow with the view that they're ripping off the band-aid and should have some cash leftover to sign a couple of players who have fallen out of favour.

Also think Jai will be just the beginning. This could be a Red Hill style blood bath.
 

Big Pete

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Manly Sea Eagles
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick
6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Cade Cust 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic

14. Lachlan Croker 15. Jack Gosiewski 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka
I forgot that AFN and J. Trbojevic are set to miss the opening rounds.

8. Paseka 13. Waddell

17. Keppie

That will certainly put them behind the eight ball against Melbourne.

1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu’a 3. Peta Hiku 4. Gerard Beale 5. Ken Maumalo
6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green
8. Agnatius Paasi 9. Wayde Egan 10. Leeson Ah Mau 11. Tohu Harris 12. Isaiah Papalii 13. Jazz Tevaga

14. Karl Lawton 15. Adam Blair 16. Josh Curran 17. Bunty Afoa
Beale and Lawton are also set to miss the opening rounds.

4. Herbert
14. Harris-Tavita
 

holdzy89

NRL Captain
4,740
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I forgot that AFN and J. Trbojevic are set to miss the opening rounds.

8. Paseka 13. Waddell

17. Keppie

That will certainly put them behind the eight ball against Melbourne.



Beale and Lawton are also set to miss the opening rounds.

4. Herbert
14. Harris-Tavita
Saw a news article today suggesting J Turbo might be right for round 1.
 

PNG Broncos fan88

QCup Player
593
537
Port Moresby
I can't see Arrow sticking around. The major reason why he chose to sign with South Sydney was to aid his partner's modelling career and Souths want him ASAP. They will move a few players around (which is why I have Gagai missing) to facilitate the move.

Holbrook will want to make his stamp on the club and won't hesitate to free up money in the cap to sign the players he wants.

When Arrow departs, the Gold Coast will only have 25 contracted players, so it'll be interesting to see who gets promoted or if they can make a play for Latrell.

They currently have 11 players in their extended squad. Compain, Pere, Seiuli and Sexton are development players while Campbell, Clark, Edwards, Evans, Gerrard, Khan-Pereira and Powell are trialing for a place.

Outside of Pere, Gerrard and Clark the squad is made up of Under 20s and Under 18s prospects. Maybe one or two could make the jump, but you would want to be mindful of their development.
Almost feel sorry for them....maybe we could give them Macca and Boyd for free.
 

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