Home > Rugby League > NRL Season 2012 Preview Pt. 3 – Competition Dark Horses

NRL Season 2012 Preview Pt. 3 – Competition Dark Horses

We’ve made it to the Top 8! In this one we take a look at the sides we think will finish 5th-8th. As per usual, no exact place is given, but these are the sides we think will be in the bottom half of the 8 come the end of Round 26.

 

Adrian

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs

Why they can make it: With a strong roster across the board, this Rabbitohs side have disappointed over the past few seasons. But with most of the squad fit and a new coach with success early in his career, a top eight finish is very possible.

Why they could miss out: If the entire forward pack picks up an injury (as per the last few years – #rabbitohsinjurycrisis as Matt constantly reminds me), they will struggle. They’ve also taken a gamble by entering 2012 without an experienced halfback. If Adam Reynolds can’t deliver, it could be another year without a finals appearance.

Bottom Line: If they can stay injury-free, they will slip into the eight.

 

Brisbane Broncos

Why they can make it: A squad brimming with young talent, mixed with the experienced heads of Corey Parker, Justin Hodges, and Petero Civoniceva, there’s a lot to like about the Broncos. Their versatility is a huge plus.

Why they could miss out: The obvious question – can they overcome the loss of Lockyer? Peter Wallace will have to step up his game, as will the man moving into the no. 6 jersey – Corey Norman.

Bottom Line: If their halves get going, look out.

 

Parramatta Eels

Why they can make it: After some questionable purchases last year, they’ve bought well for the 2012 season. Both their grand final halves are gone, with Ben Roberts and Chris Sandow bought in. They will take a lot of pressure off of Hayne. Willie Tonga will be the go-to guy out wide. Hindmarsh will be busting his chops to make sure there isn’t a repeat of last year.

Why they could miss out: Squad depth is an issue. Take a look at their Round 1 side… If they can’t get their best players out on the park, they will be in trouble.

Bottom Line: They could be anything. Who knows what’s going to happen. I think they’ll do enough to make the finals.

 

Warriors

Why they can make it: Last year’s grand finalists should be around the eight again this year. With a great young group of players coming through, there’s nothing to suggest their premiership window is closing any time soon.

Why they could miss out: Injuries have already hit hard during the pre-season. They also have a new coach in Bluey McClennan. He’s worked well with the national team in the past, but the NRL is a different beast.

Bottom Line:
They’ll be there or thereabouts.

 

 

Matt

 

Newcastle Knights

Why they can make it: I think this is pretty obvious, Wayne Bennett will make a massive difference to the Knights. This is not only just in his structures and coaching etc, but in the confidence that he will give the Knights and their supporters. They have always had the talent, and I think Bennett’s introduction, along with Darius Boyd and Kurt Gidley’s move to the halves, they will be a force, particularly at home.

Why they could miss out: As good as Bennett is, the Knights can’t simply rely on him to end all their troubles. They need to win at home in front of a big crowd or else risk not getting early momentum off Bennett-mania.

Bottom Line: They have too good a roster and too good a coach not to be in the mix come September.

 

Brisbane Broncos

Why they can make it: As good as Darren Lockyer was, the Broncos still have a very good side now. Thaiday, Hannant, Parker and Glenn in the forwards will make it very easy for their younger backs to excel, backs which include the likes of Jack Reed, Justin Hodges and Jharal Yow Yeh.

Why they could miss out: The loss of Lockyer speaks for itself, and while they’ve performed before with him in the side, it can’t be forgotted that Hodges aside, their backs are very young. If they get off to a slow start, they might not have the confidence or experience to lift in the big games.

Bottom Line: Anthony Griffin is a smart enough coach to keep these boys playing football, and if they don’t try to cover for Locky, and just play their natural game, they will excel.

 

North Queensland Cowboys

Why they can make it: They have the best player in the world at halfback, and a resurgent fullback in Matt Bowen. A fit Tariq Sims alongside Matt Scott and Jason Taumololo in the Cowboys pack will make them very dangerous, as will a trouble free Rob Lui.

Why they could miss out:
If Thurston or Bowen are out for long periods they could struggle, as they notoriously have. They have some cover in the halves this year, but I have my doubts about their quality and experienced depth in the outside backs.

Bottom Line: It’s pretty simple – if Thurston, Scott and Bowen play the majority of the season, the Cowboys will be in the finals.

 

Canberra Raiders

Why they can make it: People quickly forget that this time last year the Raiders were being backed as dark horses for the title after a great finish to 2010. Another horror year for Terry Campese, with intermitent appearences for Josh Dugan in between, meant struggle street in the Nation’s capital. If these two stay fit, and their front row stay fit, they will be hard to beat.

Why they could miss out:
Last year showed that they could possibly rely too much on Campese to take control. Josh Dugan has a tendency to drift in and out of games, which when Campese is in the side isn’t so much a problem, but when Campese isn’t, Dugan looks lacksure.

Bottom Line: They need to make Canberra Stadium a graveyard again, and if they can do this, they have enough talent to feature in September.

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