Home > Rugby League > NRL Season 2012 Preview Pt. 1 – The Also-Rans

NRL Season 2012 Preview Pt. 1 – The Also-Rans

NRL season 2012 is finally upon us, and just like every year, all 16 teams are talking up their chances. We’re ready to give predicting the final ladder a crack, so read on to find out who we think will finish in the bottom four…

Note: We’ve split the preview into four articles. We’ll be going through the places four at a time. We wont be giving exact places, but rather a rough indication of where they’ll be on the ladder.




St George Illawarra Dragons

Why they could fail: Let’s not beat around the bush – the loss of Wayne Bennett is going to hit the Dragons hard. It’s not every day that you lose one of the greatest coaches the game has seen. Enter Steve Price. He’s served his time under the master coach, and has been given his opportunity to step up to the top job. But with the loss of key backs Darius Boyd and Mark Gasnier, I’m not sold on the 2012 Dragons.

Why there’s hope: The experienced halves pairing of Soward and Hornby should keep the Dragons competitive. They’ve spent a lot of time together, and can get the job done. There are also still plenty of representative players littered through their pack.

Bottom Line: I just don’t know if the huge turnover of players across the board can lead to success this season.


Sydney Roosters

Why they could fail: The 2010 grand finalists weren’t able to replicate the form which saw them go oh-so-close to winning the premiership last season. Much has been made of their off-field dramas, and it’s fair to say that didn’t help things. Despite offloading some players and bringing through a raft of promising youngsters, I don’t think they have the squad to challenge for the title quite yet.

Why there’s hope: An inexperienced squad could deliver anything. Externally, no one expects great things from such a young group of players. But, you can bet your bottom dollar they expect much better than a bottom four finish. Add the experience of Pearce, Anasta and Minichiello in key positions, and you never know.

Bottom Line: This group will challenge for the premiership. Just not this year.


Gold Coast Titans

Why they could fail: I’m sorry to be brutal, but they were shocking last season. After showing so much in their first few years in the NRL, the wheels fell off big time. A lot of their older players have moved on, and some big-money recruits have rolled into town… But they haven’t invested in an experienced fullback, five-eighth or hooker. Scott Prince – looks like it’s all on you.

Why there’s hope: They have been very active in the transfer market. The new recruits will be keen to prove their worth, while the pain of last year will burn for those who remain at the club. They should be much better than this.

Bottom Line: I can see definite improvement, but not enough to move them too high up the ladder.


Penrith Panthers

Why they could fail: To me, the Panthers don’t really fit the ‘fail’ category. They’ve made their goals for this season very clear, and they aren’t results-driven. They aim to train hard, play hard and never give up. I don’t think it’s any secret this is the beginning of a long-term project. New coach Ivan Cleary signed a three year contract, and is expected to prolong his stay.
They’ll take time to adjust, and of course they don’t want to finish near the bottom of the competition, but I’ve got a feeling results will be of secondary importance in 2012.

Why there’s hope: There’s every chance they could have a strong start to their time under Cleary. They have the potential.

Bottom line: Sit tight Panthers fans – 2012 is just the beginning.





Parramatta Eels

Why they could fail: Sorry Eels fans, but their is a distinct reason why Chris Sandow is yet to taste finals football, and it’s got nothing to do with #rabbitohsinjurycrisis. Sandow can produce miracles, but he’ll produce just as many shockers. Jarryd Hayne is similar, but he doesn’t have shockers, rather just goes missing all too often.

Why there’s hope: They have some outstanding players on their roster, including the likes of Hayne, Sandow, Willie Tonga and Nathan Hindmarsh, and if they fire the Eels can be anything.

Bottom Line: There is big talk about their recruitment for 2012, but unfortunately I don’t think even Stephen Kearney can make Hayne and Sandow consistent.


Sydney Roosters

Why they could fail: Everyone in sport hates the term, but this is genuinely a rebuilding phase for the Roosters. Anthony Minichiello looks to be leaving, and after finally removing a rotten culture last year they may take some time to find their feet as a club again.

Why there’s hope: They still possess the man tipped to lead NSW to Origin success in Mitchell Pearce, while Jake Friend, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Boyd Cordner all have magnificent potential.

Bottom Line: Sonny Bill and James Maloney are coming in 2013, and it’s clear that is where the Roosters are looking.

Gold Coast Titans

Why they could fail: The Titans were abysmal at times last year, and unfortunately I don’t think they’ve really solved the problem that they had – their age. They have always, and it seems will always, have a good forward pack. But even with the inclusion of Jamal Idris their backs are not really up to it, and too much is falling on the fragile shoulders of Scott Prince.

Why there’s hope: If they stay injury free they will give teams a run for their money. Any team with a pack including Greg Bird, Ashley Harrison, Nate Myles and Luke Bailey should go well, and if Matt Srama continues his development they could improve.

Bottom Line: They should be better than last year, but I can’t see them improving dramatically enough to make the eight.

Penrith Panthers

Why they could fail: The club really did need a clean out after last season, and it seems Gus Gould has got them in the right direction. Unfortunately they’re probably not right there yet, and I think there are too many run of the mill first graders in the side at the moment for them to be a major force.

Why there’s hope: Michael Jennings, a fit Michael Gordon and Luke Lewis are good enough to take this side to the finals, but they will need some help if the Panthers are going to challenge.

Bottom line: Cleary was brought to the club to do a job – and it will probably involved short term pain for long term gain.

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