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NRL Season Preview

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Selections and Analysis provided by Daniel Mills  
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Melbourne Storm

 

Melbourne this year will be hoping to become the first team to win back to back premierships since the Broncos did the super league/ARL double of ‘97/98 and win three minor premierships in a row since the triumphant Manly Sea Eagles of the mid ‘90’s. Can they do it? Yes. Led by a superior coaching staff that generates a unity of experience and youth, this team will manifest yet another strong season led by last years dally M medal winner and Australian number nine Cameron Smith. The storm have lost Origin and test Centre Matt King to the English Super League but keep an eye on 19-year-old-Territory- bread Will Chambers. Exciting young winger/centre expected to step in as Kings replacement. The departures of Ben Cross and Garrett Crossman from the pack are eased by the return to form of Adam Blair and from injury, Antonio Kafusi.  Look for the storm to dominate the ruck and generate their points out wide through devastating halves Smith and Cooper Cronk. Inglis and Falou to again have a strong season developing senior roles among the team and the return of Billy Slater at the back should provide a lethal combination that can again see the storm take the flag. A tight race between one, two and three but will scrape home minor premiers.

 

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Parramatta Eels

I see a position on the pointy end of the ladder come September, mixing it with the best, the Eels will be right behind Melbourne for minor premiership honours.  Krisnan Inu and Jarrod Hayne are the possible centre pairing. Their work is typified dynamic, aggressive running combined with innovation and an ability to break tackles, ability to kick and defend, these two are a god sent for Coach Michael Hagan. The halves duo of Tim Smith and Brett Finch is solid, sometimes lacking creativity and a last tackle option, the pair can be flat in attack, but when in form will combine to put there outside men in space. Nathan Hindmarsh and Nathan Cayless are the talisman behind operation Eels forward pack. Representatives at both test and state level each are worth their weight in gold.  All the forwards are pushing claims for starts this season and the juniors coming through look ready to make a name. The Eels will miss Hooker PJ marsh coming off the bench which means Luke Riddell could be on the paddock for extended periods, something that needs addressing. For mine, right behind Melbourne.

 

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Manly Eagles

Manly will be hoping to go one better this year in all forms of the competition. Of the season proper in 07 they won 18 of 25, finished second in the table, defence and attack and became the 2nd best team ever in a season. Matt Orford and Brett Stewart were brilliant last season as were outgoing halves Michael Monaghan and Travis Burns. Stewart’s younger sibling Glenn who last year in his rookie season inspired his brother even more, the two feeding off the back of each others success, dominating the forward line and back line respectively. This year should be no different. Orford has the ability to run to the line, provide an accurate kicking game and general his troops at will. On paper the Sea Eagles forecast a formidable forward line, names such as, Watmough, Williamson, Stewart, Kite and of course, Sea Eagle veteran warhorse and overall nice guy Steve Menzies. In the backs, Stewart, Matai and Bell are all capable of scoring multiple tries a game, whilst another Northern territory hopeful to look out for Michael Bani comes into the side. After bouts with alcohol abuse and career indecision he is destined for a strait and narrow to the try line. Time to stand up Jamie Lyons, now settled at Brookvale, Lyons needs to cement another strong season and play with an attitude worthy of a man of steel (Britains best player) convincing supporters and the rugby league community he is not ‘over rated’. A comfortable top 4 spot. 3rd

 

 

 

Sydney Roosters

After a horrific start to the 2007 season the roosters looked a completely dejected outfit. Lacking focus and in trouble of taking out the wooden spoon, Brad Fittler’s task was arduous. Stepping in and taking control, Fittler resurrected a new lease of life on the Eastern Suburbs outfit, placing only one point outside the top eight. Mark Omeley and Willie Mason are their power points. Joined at the hip, these two men will benefit the Roosters front row to no end. At the peak of his game, five-eighth Braith Anasta has played plenty of football along side these two and the three will gel instantly. The team looks tight. Anthony Toupee, Craig Fitzgibbon and Tongan Lopini Paea make up what looks a very dominating forward pack, and it gets better With Nate Myles and Danny Nutley coming off the bench. Look out for younger sibling of  John Hopoate, Albert. On a one year contract he will be looking to impress immediately, hoping to ignite a career that sees his brothers reputation squashed and his elevated. The forwards are key to their success. It’s up to the likes of Anthony Minichello, returning from injury and the pace of Amos Roberts to back them up and score points. If they can do this there could be a return to the top half of the Eight this year. 4th

 

 

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