Home > Rugby League > NRL Season 2012 Preview Pt. 4 – The Favourites

NRL Season 2012 Preview Pt. 4 – The Favourites

The final instalment of the epic NRL season preview, as we finally reach the top four. These are the sides who we believe will be the ones to beat in 2012 and be hanging around come September footy. Once again we don’t give a specific place – these sides should be safe after the first week of the finals series.

 

Adrian

 

Manly Sea Eagles

Why they’ll smash it: The defending premiers have a fairly settled squad. Their young halves pairing will continue to develop, while their other stars such as Brett and Glenn Stewart are at the peak of their powers. They have a good group of young forwards coming through as well, which points to more success in the next few years.

Why they could miss out: How will they respond to new coach Geoff Toovey? While the playing squad is stable, the coaching staff isn’t as familiar.

Bottom Line: They will challenge for the title again in 2012. This group of players are certainly a chance of defending their title.

 

Wests Tigers

Why they’ll smash it: Similar to Manly in that their key players are in their prime. Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah are key. Gareth Ellis is ready to head out of the NRL with a premiership ring, and he’s joined by new recruit Adam Blair what is a handy second row. They posses a strong front row and powerful centres. They might have loss a few players, but have bought well to compensate.

Why they could miss out: There’s still question marks over the fullback position. James Tedesco has been handed the job for Round 1, but is untested in first grade.

Bottom Line: Very few negatives – this could be their year.

 

Melbourne Storm

Why they’ll smash it: Come on, it’s Melbourne. Slater, Cronk and Smith will feature heavily, we know that. Ryan Hoffman returns to the side, and should cover the loss of Adam Blair. Their group of young players have another year of first grade under their belt. Jason Ryles is a handy addition, and will thrive under the Storm system.

Why they could miss out: Depth could be an issue. They were able to cover their losses well last season – can they do it again?

Bottom Line: I have no doubt they will go deep into finals.

 

Newcastle Knights

Why they’ll smash it: A new coach (a pretty handy one at that) and a new-look roster has everyone talking up their chances. And rightly so. I don’t know if they’ll win the title in their first year under Bennett, but they will finish top four.

Why they could miss out: Successful sides just don’t pop up overnight. These things take time. Will they start finding their combinations straight away? There’s been a huge investment in this side, so if things don’t start well, it might just snowball…

Bottom Line: The big-name signings and acquisition of Bennett means anything outside of a finals appearance will be a failure. Top four should be expected.

 

 

Matt

 

Wests Tigers

Why they’ll smash it: Well I think this is pretty self explanatory, I mean they are the Tigers. Benji Marshall, Robbie Farah, Gareth Ellis, Chris Lawrence, the list just keeps going. Add to that Adam Blair and you’ve got a world class side, coached by the best in the business (in my opinion anyway).

Why they could miss out: They may lack a little bit of depth in the forwards, and in some experienced halves. Only major injuries to Marshall, Farah and Moltzen would see them miss the eight.

Bottom Line: They are deserved favourites, and I’m expecting (or maybe desperately hoping) Robbie Farah to be standing on September 30th holding the Telstra Premiership aloft!

 

Melbourne Storm

Why they’ll smash it: Even with Blair gone, they have a class side. Any team with Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith will play finals football, and the return of Ryan Hoffman will only add to the class in their massively underrated pack.

Why they could miss out: As with the Tigers, only major injuries to their key players, or some problem equivalent to 2010 will see them miss the finals.

Bottom Line: The Storm are a class team with a spectacular coach, expect them to feature heavily again in September.

 

Manly Sea Eagles

Why they’ll smash it: Again the defending premiers deserve to be in this group, with the Stewart Brothers, Anthony Watmough, Jamie Lyon and young halves Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans. Don’t let the WCC fool you – these guys are ready for the NRL season and even more determined to do it with Geoff Toovey in charge.

Why they could miss out: There has been a case of grand final hangover for a few teams over the years, and to be honest, if the Sea Eagles were looking for excuses for season 2012 they’ve got one big ready-made one. Injuries would have to feature as well for them to miss the eight.

Bottom Line: Manly should be there in September, and while they may not have the momentum and drive they did in 2011, they will still challenge any team.

 

New Zealand Warriors

Why they’ll smash it: A young side who are coming off a Grand Final appearance should grow, and with a new coach in Brian McClennan they will still be a force. Shaun Johnson and James Maloney will again be dominant after only really forming a partnership late in 2011.

Why they could miss out: The loss of Ivan Cleary could be disruptive, and possibly throw this young side around. They made the 2011 Grand Final on a wave of momentum, and more than a slice of luck, so if that deserts them in 2012, they may miss out.

Bottom Line: Last year was the coming out year for the Warriors, and with the success of their lower grades and juniors as well, all bodes well across the ditch for the next few seasons.

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