Home > Rugby League > NRL Season 2012 Preview Pt. 2 – Just Missing Out

NRL Season 2012 Preview Pt. 2 – Just Missing Out

Welcome to the second instalment of our NRL Season 2012 Preview – this time around, we take a look at the sides who we think will just miss out on the Top 8, finishing positions 9-12. Remember, no specific number is given, but we feel these teams will be around this spot when September rolls around.




Canberra Raiders

Why the could fail: Last year was a huge disappointment. Injuries to key players really hampered their chances, as they narrowly missed the wooden spoon. Consistency will be their biggest challenge – can they keep their best side on the park?

Why there’s hope: In my view, they have one of the best front row rotations in the game. David Shillington, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Brett White should give them a solid platform. Add to this the returning Terry Campese and livewire fullback Josh Dugan, and there’s plenty to like about this side.

Bottom Line: While they’ll definitely improve, there are too many teams ahead of them for my liking.


North Queensland Cowboys

Why the could fail: You might be surprised to see I’ve included them here, but I’m not sold on the Cowboys. Their form away from home is still questionable. They should be a top eight side, but I can’t include them, especially if injuries start to creep in.

Why there’s hope: On paper, a terrific squad. Powerful young forwards such as Jason Taumalolo and Tariq Sims are ready to tear into the competition, and any side with Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott are always a chance.

Bottom Line: Great side – can they take enough points on the road?


Cronulla Sharks

Why the could fail: While they have bought well, I don’t know whether the outside backs have what it takes to get them into the top eight. Points have been hard to come by in recent years, and I don’t know whether they can do enough to slip into the finals.

Why there’s hope: Todd Carney heads up a great list of new recruits. They’ve invested in their forward pack, and should they get on top of their opposition, Carney should have plenty of opportunities to weave his magic.

Bottom Line: Will just fall short of the finals.


Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Why the could fail: I wouldn’t exactly class the Canterbury halves pairing as lethal. The rest of the squad looks promising, but I don’t know whether their playmakers have what it takes to guide them to a finals position. Fullback Ben Barba will again be a handfull, but he can’t do everything.

Why there’s hope: Aiden Tolman and James Graham have two things in common: they look eerily similar, and they’re fantastic players. If they and the rest of the forward pack get on a roll, they will make it much easier for their backs.

Bottom Line: Des Hasler will have them firing, but you get the feeling this is the beginning of a much longer project.





St George Illawarra Dragons

Why they could fail: Obviously the loss of Wayne Bennett hurts the Dragons, but it becomes even more painful with Darius Boyd, Adam Cuthbertson and the promising Alex McKinnon following him. They looked a tired and flat side late last year, and I’m afraid this may continue in 2012.

Why there’s hope: The Dragons still have plenty of quality players in their squad, and a solid structure for success. Players like Soward, Cooper, Creagh and Weyman don’t just become average because they lost a coach.

Bottom Line: They still have the class in the halves and forwards to beat any side on their day, but I just don’t think they’ll be able to produce it as regularly this season.


Canterbury Bulldogs

Why they could fail: Despite the addition of a world class front rower in James Graham I fear the Bulldogs won’t have the strike power to really challenge the top sides. Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson and Kris Keating aren’t at the same level of halves as the NRL’s elite, and too much will fall on the shoulders of Ben Barba to spark something.

Why there’s hope: They still do have Barba there, and he will still score plenty of tries. If the two blonde twins, Graham and Aiden Tolman, lay the platform, the Bulldogs could do some damage through captain Michael Ennis.

Bottom Line: Des Hasler may be the messiah at Belmore, but he isn’t the kind of coach who delivers immediate success. He builds a work ethic and culture, and this will take a little bit of time with a squad he didn’t really assemble.


South Sydney Rabbitohs

Why they could fail: It simply comes down to their six and seven. Adam Reynolds and John Sutton don’t look to be finals halves, let alone premiership halves. Adding to that is #rabbitohsinjurycrisis, and you have another disappointing Souths season.

Why there’s hope: A fit Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess and Nathan Merritt will cause headaches for many a team. Inglis does actually look fit this year, but an early season ankle injury doesn’t bode well for the season, while Burgess was very impressive in the trials. Merritt needs to be at fullback for the Rabbitohs to be a real threat.

Bottom Line: A new coach and rookie halfback probably means a rollercoaster ride for Souths fans, but they should be used to that by now.


Cronulla Sharks

Why they could fail: They have recruited well, but to be honest they’ve only build depth around an area that has never really been a weakness for Cronulla, the forwards. They don’t have the try-scorers in the backs, or the strike outside Todd Carney to really break down the better defences. Fan favourite Ben Pomeroy probably has to do too much for them.

Why there’s hope: Their hopes are wrapped in two words, Todd Carney. He has the potential to deliver them their first piece of silverware, or completely destroy their season from within. Which will it be? I don’t really know, but I’m keen to watch in and find out.

Bottom Line: The Sharks are trying hard to turn the corner, but at the moment they’re looking painfully like an L-plater struggling to get their hands around the wheel. The potential is there, but I just don’t like the chances of success just yet.

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