Season Previews

The Professor has been in the Lab for some long hours to give an in-depth analysis of each NRL team.

Wests Tigers 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

Signings & Losses

Signings: Jamal Idris (Off Contract – C), Matt McIlwrick (Cronulla – HK)

Just two signings of some merit for the 2017 season. Jamal Idris has seen enough of the world and has decided he wants to resurrect his rugby league career. Idris joins his 4th NRL club and has struggled to make the impact first witnessed at the Bulldogs which saw him earn NSW & Australia honors. The Professor is unsure where Taylor has him fitting into squad – center or second row – and will need to see his trial form before making any judgment. McIlwrick will battle it out with Ballin and Liddle for a regular spot in the 17.

Losses: Robbie Farah (South Sydney – HK), Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne – W), Manaia Cherrington (Cronulla – HK), Dene Halatau (Retired – SR), Curtis Sironen (Manly – SR)

Two of the Tigers greatest stalwarts leave the club – Farah and Halatau – having brought the club premiership glory. Farah leaves in controversial circumstances having not played to JT’s game plan leading to the NSW representative’s relegation to NSW Cup. Halatau has been battling injuries towards the back of his career and his form had greatly suffered. Both true legends of the club who are gone but not forgotten. Sironen, Addo-Carr, and Cherrington are players of great potential who just couldn’t find their way at the Tigers. Look for them to accelerate their development at their new clubs. Taylor has let go of some great talent and depth from his squad and if results don’t come quickly the writing will be on the wall.

 

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Kevin Naiqama 28 C 23 15
Tim Simona 26 C 21 27
Jamal Idris 27 C DNP DNP
Ryland Jacobs 21 C DNP DNP
Watson Heleta 22 C DNP DNP
James Tedesco 24 FB 17 2
Justin Hunt 29 FB 1 28
Mitchell Moses 23 FE 23 2
Jack Littlejohn 26 FE 3 27
Luke Brooks 23 HB 21 7
Jacob Liddle 21 HK 1 34
Matt McIlwrick 26 HK 2 44
Matt Ballin 33 HK 2 45
Elijah Taylor 27 LK 17 16
Aaron Woods 26 P 19 3
Ava Seumanufagai 26 P 24 22
Tim Grant 29 P 22 26
Sauaso Sue 25 P 21 31
JJ Felise 21 P 8 72
Matt Eisenhuth 25 P DNP DNP
Rod Griffin 30 P DNP DNP
Taniela Paseka 20 P DNP DNP
Wesley Molo 23 P DNP DNP
Jordan Grant 23 P DNP DNP
Chris Lawrence 29 SR 22 24
Kyle Lovett 24 SR 22 36
Michael Chee-Kam 25 SR 5 53
Josh Aloiai 22 SR 24 57
Joel Edwards 29 SR 8 66
Bayley Sironen 21 SR DNP DNP
Esan Marsters 21 SR DNP DNP
Junior Tatola 21 SR DNP DNP
David Nofoaluma 24 W 23 9
Jordan Rankin 26 W 22 44

 

Strongest 17

1. James Tedesco
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Jamal Idris
4. Tim Simona
5. Kevin Naiqama
6. Mitchell Moses
7. Luke Brooks
8. Aaron Woods
9. Matt Ballin
10. Tim Grant
11. Kyle Lovett
12. Chris Lawrence
13. Elijah Taylor

BENCH
14. Jacob Liddle
15. Ava Seumanufagai
16. Sauaso Sue
17. Josh Aloiai

Close Results Record

Wins: 1

Losses: 3

The Professor’s Prediction

The Tigers are a side with plenty of young talent showing great potential and with the majority of the squad (20 players in fact) coming off contract they will be willing to show their best. Tedesco, Moses, Brooks and Woods need to leave the contract talks to their managers and just focus on their own game if the Tigers are to make an impact in the NRL.

Wests have some great attacking strike weapons and won’t struggle to score points, it is more so the forwards and defence that worries The Professor. The Tigers conceded 607 points in 2016, the 2nd worst in the NRL, and still managed to finish 9th on the ladder. The fringe defence is clearly the issue with small halves and second-rowers which will continually be targeted in 2017. If the Tigers are any chance of making the 8 this is the one part of their game they must improve.

With much the same side as 2016, the joint venture club will benefit from the loss of Farah with Jason Taylor finally having the side he wants. Taylor is fighting to save his job, his squad is fighting for a playing contract and the Tigers will be fighting for a position in the finals but once again they will fall just short.

Verdict – 11th

Your Prediction

Sydney Roosters 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

Signings & Losses

Signings: Luke Keary (South Sydney – FE), Michael Gordon (Parramatta – FB), Paul Carter (South Sydney – SR), Liam Knight (Manly – P), Zane Tetevano (Off Contract – P), Mitch Cornish (Parramatta – HB), Brock Gray (South Sydney – P)

No big name signings for the Eastern Suburbs club but some very shrewd acquisitions from Trent Robinson. The Professor is impressed with the Roosters signings on a shoestring budget. Luke Keary is the biggest name of the lot and should slot straight into the five-eight role to partner Pearce. Gordon provides the Roosters with a top class goalkicker which they were severely missing in 2016 with *% losses by 6 points or less in 2016. Not only this but he will provide young Latrell Mitchell with guidance from the back. The troublesome threesome of Carter, Knight, and Tetevano join a club that hasn’t been adverse from misbehavior previously. All have great potential but it will be off the field Robinson will need to get them on the straight and narrow.

Losses: Jackson Hastings (Manly – HB), Sam Moa (ESL – P), Vincent Leuluai (Melbourne – SR), Ian Henderson (Retired – HK)

Hastings started the year with rave reviews starring alongside Jayden Nikorima in the halves at the World Club Series and from there it was all downhill with both youngsters finding themselves in NSW Cup by season’s end. A junior sensation Hastings who just didn’t make the grade and his attitude stank from all reports – Robinson will be happy to of got rid of him. Leuluai, on the other hand, is a star in the making Robinson would’ve wanted to stay. Bellamy will find it hard to keep him out of the 17. Moa returns to the Super League having established himself as a New Zealand rep during his time at the Roosters.

 

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Shaun Kenny-Dowall 29 C 19 5
Blake Ferguson 27 C 22 9
Dale Copley 26 C 14 22
Paul Momirovski 21 C DNP DNP
Michael Gordon 34 FB 24 14
Latrell Mitchell 20 FB 24 20
Connor Watson 21 FE 16 13
Luke Keary 25 FE 17 18
Ryan Matterson 23 FE 15 20
Jayden Nikorima 21 FE 7 26
Mitchell Pearce 28 HB 12 5
Mitchell Cornish 24 HB DNP DNP
Jake Friend 27 HK 24 2
Grant Garvey 21 HK 1 43
Isaac Liu 26 LK 22 15
Nat Butcher 20 LK 1 24
Chris Smith 23 LK 1 25
Dylan Napa 25 P 23 9
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 28 P 14 13
Kane Evans 25 P 23 53
Eloni Vunakece 30 P 9 85
Lindsay Collins 21 P DNP DNP
Poasa Faamausili 21 P DNP DNP
Shaquai Mitchell 21 P DNP DNP
Boyd Cordner 25 SR 12 1
Sio Siua Taukeiaho 25 SR 20 9
Aidan Guerra 29 SR 21 14
Paul Carter 25 SR 12 34
Mitchell Aubusson 30 SR 22 41
Liam Knight 22 SR 1 87
Brock Gray 21 SR DNP DNP
Reuben Porter 20 SR DNP DNP
Zane Tetevano 27 SR DNP DNP
Daniel Tupou 26 W 21 27
Joseph Manu 21 W 3 54
Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck 21 W DNP DNP

 

Strongest 17

1. Michael Gordon
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Blake Ferguson
5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
6. Luke Keary
7. Mitchell Pearce
8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9. Jake Friend
10. Dylan Napa
11. Boyd Cordner
12. Sio Siua Taukeiaho
13. Isaac Liu

BENCH
14. Kane Evans
15. Aidan Guerra
16. Paul Carter
17. Mitchell Aubusson

Close Results Record

Wins: 0

Losses: 8

The Professor’s Prediction

The eastern suburbs club had a difficult 2016 both on and off the field seeing them drop to 2nd last on the ladder. The Roosters had a terrible close results record last year where they lost 8 games by 6 points or less while managing to win zero by less than 6 points. Had they won more than half of those matches they would’ve been in with a shot at the finals.

The loss of Maloney and RTS along with Pearce, Cordner and JWH missing the opening rounds meant the Roosters were always going to struggle from the outset last season. The young and inexperienced Latrell Mitchell and Jackson Hastings were given the task of steering the team around the park with little success. Trent Robinson has realised his mistake and has recruited Michael Gordon and Luke Keary who will start at fullback and five-eight respectively.

If the Roosters can manage to keep key players on the park week-to-week they will fly up the ladder. The Professor is impressed with Trent Robinson’s recruitment and expects them to be the biggest improvers in the league. Top 4 isn’t out of the question.

Did I mention the Roosters now have a renowned goal kicker in their ranks? Those close game losses should turn into wins in 2017.

Verdict – 5th

Your Prediction

St George Illawarra Dragons 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

Signings & Losses

Signings: Cameron McInnes (South Sydney – HK), Nene Macdonald (Gold Coast – W), Paul Vaughan (Canberra – P)

All 3 major signings for the Dragons are great buys and all will be in the starting line-up each week but where is the halfback the club so badly needed?

Paul Vaughan is an outstanding player who found limited opportunities at the Raiders in 2016 such is the depth in the forward pack. At the Dragons, he shall see increased minutes and will flourish although The Profesor doesn’t believe he is worth the rumored amount he is on per year. McInnes is a straight swap for Rein and should find himself playing the full 80 each week. McGregor will need to change the Dragons style of play to get the best of the young hooker. Macdonald is an underrated player who will prove a great acquisition should he see enough ball. The only thing missing is a halfback and this could cost the Dragons and McGregor dearly.

Losses: Mike Cooper (ESL – P), Ben Creagh (Retired – P), Benji Marshall (Brisbane – FE), Mitch Rein (Penrith – HK), Dunamis Lui (Canberra – LK), Adam Quinlan (ESL – FB), Dylan Farrell (Retired – C)

The management team has done a small clean out telling the like of Marshall, Rein and Cooper that their services are no longer required in 2017. Marshall was somewhat understandable but both Rein and Cooper are strange ones considering they have been the standout performers in previous seasons. In saying this both McInnes and Vaughan are straight replacements for the two of them and are more than capable replacements. Ben Creagh was forced into retirement with a knee injury after an outstanding career in the red and white which spanned 270 games along with state and national honors.

 

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Euan Aitken 22 C 22 16
Timoteo Lafai 26 C 18 29
Taane Milne 22 C 7 42
Izaac Thompson 21 C DNP DNP
Levi Dodd 27 C DNP DNP
Josh Dugan 27 FB 17 15
Matt Dufty 21 FB DNP DNP
Gareth Widdop 28 FE 24 10
Shaun Nona 27 FE DNP DNP
Drew Hutchison 22 HB 1 11
Josh McCrone 30 HB 7 21
Cameron McInnes 23 HK 19 12
Jake Marketo 28 HK 18 27
Siliva Havili 24 HK 10 37
Jack de Belin 26 LK 21 6
Hame Sele 21 LK DNP DNP
Paul Vaughan 26 P 20 14
Tariq Sims 27 P 16 19
Russell Packer 28 P 22 23
Leeson Ah Mau 28 P 21 27
Luciano Leilua 21 P 5 89
Jacob Hind 25 P DNP DNP
Mose Masoe 28 P DNP DNP
Tyson Frizell 26 SR 21 16
Joel Thompson 29 SR 20 20
Jacob Host 21 SR 8 61
Will Matthews 29 SR 20 64
Tyrone McCarthy 29 SR 2 65
Chris Lewis 25 SR DNP DNP
Josh Kerr 21 SR DNP DNP
Kurt Mann 24 W 13 16
Jason Nightingale 31 W 24 24
Kalifa Faifai Loa 27 W 11 38
Nene Macdonald 23 W 23 42
Kiti Glymin 24 W DNP DNP

Strongest 17

1. Josh Dugan
2. Kurt Mann
3. Euan Aitken
4. Nene Macdonald
5. Jason Nightingale
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Josh McCrone
8. Leeson Ah Mau
9. Cameron McInnes
10. Paul Vaughan
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Joel Thompson
13. Jack de Belin

BENCH
14. Russell Packer
15. Tariq Sims
16. Jake Marketo
17. Jacob Host

Close Results Record

Wins: 7

Losses: 3

The Professor’s Prediction

McGregor has been copping some flack from previous players, fans and media alike. His job is well and truly on the line and if he can’t get the results in the opening few rounds he is sure to find his way out the door.

A halfback was on every Dragons fans’ wish list for 2017, instead, the club dished out a considerable amount on Ben Hunt to join the side in 2018. With Drew Hutchinson suffering a season-ending injury the club will fall back on Josh McCrone for the coming season who will struggle in an NRL side which had the 3rd worst attack, scoring an average of just 14.2 points per game,  in 2016.

The Dragons roster doesn’t lack talent with some big names within the side, what they do lack is an attacking spark which will see them suffer. Dugan isn’t a ball player, McCrone is a reserve grader, McInnes was below average in both try assists and line break assists in 2016 leaving Widdop with all the attacking responsibility. Add in a defensively structured coach and the Professor can’t see the Dragons getting close to the eight.

Verdict – 15th

Your Prediction

South Sydney Rabbitohs 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

Signings & Losses

Signings: Robbie Farah (Wests – HK), Robbie Rochow (Newcastle – SR), Luke Kelly (Parramatta – HB), Braidon Burns (Penrith – C), Anthony Cherrington (Free Agent – SR), Robert Jennings (Penrith – C), Tyrell Fuimaono (Parramatta – C), Connor Treacy (Cronulla – HB)

One representative hooker, one injury riddled second-rower, two fringe first graders, and four NRL rookies. The Rabbitohs recruitment drive has seen them sign some outstanding potential while gaining one of the best hookers of the past 10 years.

Robbie Farah leaves his beloved Tigers having fallen out of favor with the coach and will be looking to show him the talent in which he has lost. His signing makes for one of the star-studded spine along with Inglis, Walker & Reynolds.

With just 13 games in the last 2 seasons, Robbie Rochow will be hoping his injury woes are behind him. Turning 27 this year The Professor doesn’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet. Primed for a big 2017.

Burns, Jennings, Fuimaono and Treacy are recruits with one eye on the future. All four turn 21 in 2017 and will be fighting it out in NSW Cup. Treacy will sit on the sidelines for the season requiring a knee reconstruction – his third in as many years.

Losses: Cameron McInnes (St George – HK), Luke Keary (Sydney – FE), Paul Carter (Sydney – SR), Kirisome Auva’a (Parramatta – C), Nathan Brown (Parramatta – P), Joe Burgess (ESL – W), Michael Oldfield (Penrith – W)

The Rabbitohs have lost some great talent in which they have established in their lower grades. Keary, Auva’a, McInnes and Brown all made a name for themselves and advanced their careers thanks to the club.

Auva’a and Carter leave having had their contracts terminated for misconduct while Keary reportingly had a falling out with owner Russell Crowe. From the outside looking in the departures of these players could be a boost to the culture around the Rabbitohs.

Nathan Brown loss will be hardest felt having had a big 2016 and earning himself a City jersey in the process.

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Bryson Goodwin 32 C 13 8
Hymel Hunt 24 C 13 34
Dane Nielsen 32 C 7 35
Braidon Burns 21 C DNP DNP
Robert Jennings 21 C DNP DNP
Tyrell Fuimaono 21 C DNP DNP
Greg Inglis 30 FB 20 10
Cody Walker 27 FE 20 4
Adam Reynolds 27 HB 16 17
Luke Kelly 28 HB 1 25
Connor Tracey 21 HB DNP DNP
Robbie Farah 33 HK 9 5
Damien Cook 26 HK 17 14
Brad Deitz 22 HK DNP DNP
Sam Burgess 29 LK 23 4
Cameron Murray 19 LK DNP DNP
Thomas Burgess 25 P 19 16
George Burgess 25 P 17 42
Zane Musgrove 21 P 6 49
David Tyrrell 29 P 15 77
Toby Rudolf 21 P DNP DNP
Robbie Rochow 27 SR 8 7
John Sutton 33 SR 12 15
Jason Clark 28 SR 23 37
Kyle Turner 25 SR 23 51
Angus Crichton 21 SR 8 60
Siosifa Talakai 20 SR 3 62
Jack Gosiewski 23 SR 5 80
Anthony Cherrington 29 SR DNP DNP
Brett Greinke 23 SR DNP DNP
Alex Johnston 22 W 18 28
Aaron Gray 23 W 21 33

Strongest 17

1. Greg Inglis
2. Alex Johnston
3. Bryson Goodwin
4. Hymel Hunt
5. Aaron Gray
6. Cody Walker
7. Adam Reynolds
8. George Burgess
9. Robbie Farah
10. Thomas Burgess
11. Robbie Rochow
12. John Sutton
13. Sam Burgess

BENCH
14. Damien Cook
15. Zane Musgrove
16. Jason Clark
17. Kyle Turner

Close Results Record

Wins: 3

Losses: 4

The Professor’s Prediction

The Rabbitohs have recruited well and got rid of some players hindering the culture. The signing of Farah will add direction to the side while establishing a good foil for the halves. The rest of the side is very similar to the 2016 side and having won the last 4 games of the season – including defeating the eventual premiers – they will be looking to continue to start 2017 where they left off.

One place the side is struggling with is an impact within the forwards beyond the starting side. Turner and Clark have close to 200 first grade games between them yet neither threaten to break the line or provide the meters required from the bench. George Burgess must also rediscover his form from 2014, he was a completely different player last season having little impact.

For the red and green of South Sydney to return to the eight in 2017 they require their forwards to play on the front foot allowing Farah to work his magic with the halves and Inglis. Without this, their impact will be nullified and they won’t find themselves playing finals football. The Professor has struggled to find a place for the Rabbitohs with his prediction having them anywhere from 4th to 13th. Depth will work against them and should injury occur they will greatly suffer more than others.

Verdict – 10th

Your Prediction

Penrith Panthers 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

 

Signings & Losses

Signings: James Tamou (North Queensland – P), Mitch Rein (St George – HK), Tim Browne (Canterbury – P), Michael Oldfield (South Sydney – W)

The young Panthers add representative prop James Tamou to an already star-studded line-up. Tamou has ranked in the top 10 props the last 2 seasons and his experience will assist the young forward pack. The Professor views Tamou as the buy of the season and will prove his worth in spades.

Such is the depth out at Penrith both Rein and Browne may find themselves in NSW Cup for the majority of the season! Rein was once touted as an NSW representative player of the future but he never quite kicked on at the Dragons and will be hoping the attacking prowess of the Panthers will help him reach his potential.

Tim Browne has averaged 22 NRL games per season over the past 3 years at Canterbury and will find that number greatly reduced in 2017. Turning 30 in 2017 The Professor views Browne as a mentor to the players in the lower grades. Will be a standout within NSW Cup.

Losses: Suaia Matagi (Parramatta – P), Jeremy Latimore (Cronulla – P), Zak Hardaker (ESL – C), Will Smith (Parramatta – FB), Chris Grevsmuhl (Released – SR)

Matagi and Latimore were seen as veterans within the Panthers such is the youth in their squad. Their experience will be sorely missed but have more than adequately been replaced. Grevsmuhl was released from his contract due to personal issues. A regular on the bench he will be sorely missed and hopefully, it isn’t long till we see him in the NRL again as he is a great talent.

Hardaker and Smith will hardly be missed with the likes of Hiku and Whare returning from injury along with Edwards progressing through the grades.

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Tyrone Peachey 26 C 24 4
Waqa Blake 23 C 21 13
Peta Hiku 25 C 11 32
Dylan Edwards 21 C 1 50
Dean Whare 27 C 1 54
Jed Cartwright 21 C DNP DNP
Samisoni Langi 24 C DNP DNP
Tony Satini 34 C DNP DNP
Matt Moylan 26 FB 21 1
Bryce Cartwright 23 FE 26 14
Te Maire Martin 22 FE 6 22
Andrew Heffernan 22 FE DNP DNP
Tyrone May 21 FE DNP DNP
Nathan Cleary 20 HB 15 13
Darren Nicholls 28 HB DNP DNP
Soni Luke 21 HB DNP DNP
Peter Wallace 32 HK 26 7
Mitch Rein 27 HK 24 11
Sione Katoa 22 HK DNP DNP
Zach Dockar-Clay 22 HK DNP DNP
Trent Merrin 28 LK 25 2
James Tamou 29 P 25 8
Leilani Latu 24 P 24 41
Reagan Campbell-Gillard 24 P 20 44
Sam McKendry 28 P 12 62
Tim Browne 30 P 23 70
Moses Leota 22 P 4 95
Andy Saunders 23 P DNP DNP
Oliver Clark 21 P DNP DNP
Viliame Kikau 22 P DNP DNP
Isaah Yeo 23 SR 26 21
James Fisher-Harris 21 SR 23 54
Sitaleki Akauola 25 SR 14 76
Josh Mansour 27 W 25 4
Dallin Watene Zelezniak 22 W 26 25
Michael Oldfield 27 W 4 47

Strongest 17

1. Matt Moylan
2. Josh Mansour
3. Peta Hiku
4. Tyrone Peachey
5. Dallin Watene Zelezniak
6. Te Maire Martin
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9. Peter Wallace
10. James Tamou
11. Bryce Cartwright
12. James Fisher-Harris
13. Trent Merrin

BENCH
14. Mitch Rein
15. Leilani Latu
16. Sam McKendry
17. Isaah Yeo

Close Results Record

Wins: 7

Losses: 6

The Professor’s Prediction

The Professor has the mighty Penrith Panthers at the top end of the ladder. The recruitment of some experienced older heads along with the youth coming through the grades the Panthers will prove tough competition throughout the season.

Such is the talent in their ranks players like Whare, Blake, and Browne will find themselves in NSW Cup unless injuries arise. Add to this the superb junior sides and the Panthers have everything going in the right direction. In saying this the Panthers have been prone to injury over the past 2 seasons and if history is anything to go by these players may play more than expected.

It’s hard to find a weakness in this almighty Panthers side and The Professor is excited by their prospects in 2017. The Professor has declared the Panthers a certainty for the top 4 and will be pushing hard for the minor premiership. Beyond the regular season his a little worried but isn’t looking that far ahead just yet.

Verdict – 2nd

Your Prediction

Parramatta Eels Preview 2017

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

Signings & Losses

Signings: Nathan Brown (South Sydney – P), Josh Hoffman (Gold Coast – C), Siosaia Vave (Manly – P), Frank Pritchard (ESL – SR), Suaia Matagi (Penrith – P), Kirisome Auva’a (South Sydney – C), Will Smith (Penrith – FB)

The Eels have pulled off some great signings considering they will be contributing to players contracts at other clubs. Brown and Matagi add much-needed power to the front row which has been missing since Junior Paulo left. Frank Pritchard joins his younger brother Kaysa and his wealth of experience will improve an already star back row. Hoffman will help young French continue his improvement in the fullback role while being able to play a number of positions himself.

Losses: Kieran Foran (Warriors – FE), Michael Gordon (Sydney – FB), Danny Wicks (Retired – P), Luke Kelly (South Sydney – HB)

After losing a major amount of talent mid-season due to salary cap breaches the Eels continued to see players leave at the end of the season. Foran was meant to be the Eels best recruit ever but off-field issues and injury saw him released not even 1 year into his contract. Wicks surprisingly pulled the pin on his NRL career after a successful return from jail. Improving with every game he will be a great loss to the Eels. Michael Gordon was solid without being spectacular and was eventually moved from fullback to the wing to vacate the electrifying Bevan French. Luke Kelly leaves having offered near nothing. No loss there.

 

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Michael Jennings 29 C 19 14
Josh Hoffman 29 C 25 24
Brad Takairangi 28 C 17 30
Kirisome Auva’a 25 C 13 44
John Folau 23 C 1 53
Scott Schulte 22 C DNP DNP
Will Smith 25 FB 4 27
Corey Norman 26 FE 16 3
Jeff Robson 35 HB 16 24
Jamal Fogarty 24 HB DNP DNP
Isaac De Gois 33 HK 22 28
Kaysa Pritchard 23 HK 16 32
Cody Nelson 29 HK 2 41
Cameron King 26 HK DNP DNP
Tepai Moeroa 22 LK 22 14
Tim Mannah 29 P 14 20
Nathan Brown 24 P 21 30
Siosaia Vave 28 P 23 32
Daniel Alvaro 24 P 17 33
Peni Terepo 26 P 23 48
David Gower 32 P 16 56
Suaia Matagi 29 P 23 63
Rory O’Brien 28 P 9 82
Alex Twal 21 P DNP DNP
Manu Ma’u 29 SR 22 6
Kenny Edwards 28 SR 24 33
Beau Scott 33 SR 20 56
Frank Pritchard 34 SR DNP DNP
Jack Morris 21 SR DNP DNP
James Hasson 25 SR DNP DNP
Joseph Ualesi 24 SR DNP DNP
Kelepi Tanginoa 23 SR DNP DNP
Marata Niukore 21 SR DNP DNP
Matthew Woods 22 SR DNP DNP
Bevan French 21 W 13 3
Semi Radradra 25 W 19 11
Bureta Faraimo 27 W 2 29
Clinton Gutherson 23 W 24 45
George Jennings 24 W DNP DNP
Honeti Tuha 24 W DNP DNP

Strongest 17

1. Bevan French
2. Semi Radradra
3. Michael Jennings
4. Brad Takairangi
5. Josh Hoffman
6. Clinton Gutherson
7. Corey Norman
8. Tim Mannah
9. Isaac De Gois
10. Nathan Brown
11. Manu Ma’u
12. Beau Scott
13. Tepai Moeroa

BENCH
14. Siosaia Vave
15. Kenny Edwards
16. Frank Pritchard
17. Kaysa Pritchard

Close Results Record

Wins: 4
Losses: 3

The Professor’s Prediction

Verdict – 12th

Your Prediction

North Queensland Cowboys 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

 

Signings & Losses

Signings: Ben Hampton (Melbourne – C)

With the solitary signing of Ben Hampton the Cowboys gain a utility that can fill a number of positions without providing anything special. It’s yet to be seen who will come into the prop position but The Professor believes they will get their man before their season commences. Watch this space.

Losses: James Tamou (Penrith – P), Ben Hannant (Retired – P), Rory Kostjasyn (Newcastle – HK), Tautau Moga (Brisbane – C), Jahrome Hughes (Melbourne – FB)

The engine room has suffered some massive losses in Tamou and Hannant. Consistent performers and representative players they both will be sorely missed. Kostjasyn played the impact player off the bench but rarely offered any impact instead proving to be solid while Granville was given a rest. Hughes and Moga had minimal contribution to the Cowboys and will be easily replaced with young talent coming through.

 

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Javid Bowen 24 C 10 11
Justin O’Neill 26 C 25 17
Kane Linnett 28 C 22 38
Ben Hampton 25 C 19 48
Shaun Hudson 22 C DNP DNP
Lachlan Coote 27 FB 27 11
Michael Morgan 26 FE 22 1
Johnathan Thurston 34 HB 24 2
Kyle Laybutt 22 HB DNP DNP
Ray Thompson 27 HK 7 9
Josh Chudleigh 23 HK 1 18
Jake Granville 28 HK 25 19
Jason Taumalolo 24 LK 27 5
Matthew Scott 32 P 23 12
Scott Bolton 30 P 27 34
Patrick Kaufusi 23 P 12 78
Ben Spina 29 P 2 80
Braden Uele 22 P DNP DNP
Corey Jensen 23 P DNP DNP
Sam Hoare 26 P DNP DNP
Ethan Lowe 26 SR 25 4
Gavin Cooper 32 SR 26 23
Coen Hess 21 SR 8 28
John Asiata 24 SR 19 63
Patrick Mago 23 SR DNP DNP
Shane Wright 21 SR DNP DNP
Kyle Feldt 25 W 24 20
Antonio Winterstein 29 W 24 31
Gideon Mosby-Gela 21 W DNP DNP
Kalyn Ponga 19 W DNP DNP
Marcus Jensen 21 W DNP DNP

Strongest 17

1. Lachlan Coote
2. Kyle Feldt
3. Justin O’Neill
4. Kane Linnett
5. Antonio Winterstein
6. Michael Morgan
7. Johnathan Thurston
8. Scott Bolton
9. Jake Granville
10. Matthew Scott
11. Gavin Cooper
12. Ethan Lowe
13. Jason Taumalolo

BENCH
14. Patrick Kaufusi
15. Coen Hess
16. John Asiata
17. Ray Thompson

Close Results Record

Wins: 4
Losses: 5

The Professor’s Prediction

Verdict – 4th

Your Prediction

Newcastle Knights 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

 

Signings & Losses

Signings: Jamie Buhrer (Newcastle, SR), Rory Kostjasyn (North Queensland – HK), Joe Wardle (ESL – C), Ken Sio (ESL – W), Josh Starling (Newcastle – P)

For what the Knights had to work with The Professor believes that have done a decent job. If Buhrer can stay injury free he will prove to be one of the best buys of the season. He will also prove to be a great mentor for the younger players within the back row. Kostjasyn gives them an NRL quality hooker, something they haven’t had since Danny Buderus. Josh Starling won’t exactly set the world alight but he will do the job required of him. Wardle and Sio come from the English Super League and will provide competition to an inexperienced backline.

Losses: Robbie Rochow (South Sydney – SR), Akuila Uate (Manly – W), Kade Snowden (Retired – P), Jeremy Smith (Retired – LK), Jake Mamo (ESL – FB), Chris Adams (NSW Cup – HK), Jarrod Mullen (Released – FE)

The Knights have lost a vast amount of experience – Smith, Mullen & Rochow – but have also managed to get rid of some under-performing players taking up a major amount of the salary cap – Uate & Snowden. Apart from Smith the others only had a minor contribution to the 1st-grade side and they won’t be greatly missed. Mullen was an unplanned departure and has placed enormous pressue on young Lamb to direct a young side around the park.

 

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Pat Mata’utia 24 C 14 43
Peter Mata’utia 27 C 16 47
Braden Robson 21 C DNP DNP
Joe Wardle 26 C DNP DNP
Dane Gagai 26 FB 22 16
Jaelen Feeney 23 FB 5 26
Nick Meaney 20 FB DNP DNP
Brock Lamb 20 FE 3 15
Jack Cogger 20 FE 6 23
Will Pearsall 22 FE 3 24
Trent Hodkinson 29 HB 23 19
Tyler Randell 25 HK 18 17
Danny Levi 22 HK 18 25
Rory Kostjasyn 30 HK 26 33
Dylan Phythian 22 HK 2 38
David Bhana 24 LK 7 23
Luke Yates 22 LK DNP DNP
Sam Stone 20 LK DNP DNP
Daniel Saifiti 21 P 20 25
Sam Mataora 27 P 20 38
Jack Stockwell 25 P 6 54
Josh Starling 27 P 20 55
Mickey Paea 31 P 15 66
Josh King 22 P 12 74
Bradie Smith 22 P DNP DNP
Mitchell Barnett 23 SR 9 5
Jamie Buhrer 28 SR 15 8
Sione Mata’utia 21 SR 16 27
Pauli Pauli 23 SR 15 39
Jacob Saifiti 21 SR 18 44
Lachlan Fitzgibbon 23 SR 5 77
Brodie Jones 19 SR DNP DNP
Nathan Ross 29 W 19 17
Brendan Elliot 23 W 16 39
Cory Denniss 20 W 7 48
Chanel Mata’utia 25 W 1 56
Jacob Gagan 24 W DNP DNP
Ken Sio 27 W DNP DNP

Strongest 17

1. Dylan Phythian
2. Brendan Elliot
3. Dane Gagai
4. Joe Wardle
5. Nathan Ross
6. Brock Lamb
7. Trent Hodkinson
8. Sam Mataora
9. Rory Kostjasyn
10. Josh Starling
11. Sione Mata’utia
12. Mitchell Barnett
13. Jamie Buhrer

BENCH
14. Daniel Saifiti
15. Pauli Pauli
16. Jacob Saifiti
17. Danny Levi

Close Results Record

Wins: 1
Losses: 5

The Professor’s Prediction

Verdict – 16th

Your Prediction

New Zealand Warriors 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

 

Signings & Losses

Signings: Kieran Foran (Free Agent – FE)

Foran looks to be the one and only recruit and he could be all the Warriors need to finally put them back in the Premiership hunt. After a much publicised 2016, Foran returns to his homeland looking to get away from the troubles Sydney carries. We have already seen what his partnership looks like with Johnson and if he has his head screwed on right they could possibly go all the way.

Losses: Thomas Leuluai (ESL – FE), Ben Henry (Retired – SR), Jonathan Wright (Manly – W), Shaun Lane (Manly – SR), Sione Lousi (QLD Cup – SR), John Palavi (Released – SR)

Only 1 major loss in Thomas Leuluai. He returns to the ESL after 3 – nothing more than solid – years at the Warriors. Ben Henry retires after his career was cruelly ruined by injuries. All others leaving had little contribution to the top side with none playing more than 10 games in 2016.

 

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Solomone Kata 23 C 21 2
Blake Ayshford 29 C 22 26
Matthew Allwood 25 C 4 33
Junior Pauga 21 C DNP DNP
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 24 FB 7 8
Tuimoala Lolohea 22 FB 22 12
Kieran Foran 27 FE 9 9
Charnze Nicoll Klokstad 22 FE DNP DNP
Erin Clark 20 FE DNP DNP
Shaun Johnson 27 HB 24 1
Ma’afoaeata Hingano 20 HB 2 14
Mason Lino 23 HB DNP DNP
Issac Luke 30 HK 20 8
Jazz Tevaga 22 HK 11 23
Nathaniel Roache 21 HK 11 36
Simon Mannering 31 LK 22 11
Ben Matulino 28 P 23 11
Jacob Lillyman 33 P 22 18
Albert Vete 24 P 15 58
Sam Lisone 23 P 21 60
James Gavet 28 P 10 67
Charlie Gubb 27 P 14 88
Toafofoa Sipley 22 P 2 91
Ligi Sao 25 P 2 92
Isaiah Papalii 19 P DNP DNP
Ofahiki Ogden 21 P DNP DNP
Bodene Thompson 29 SR 18 17
Ryan Hoffman 33 SR 23 18
Bunty Afoa 21 SR 4 48
James Bell 23 SR DNP DNP
Patrick Sipley 25 SR DNP DNP
David Fusitua 23 W 18 14
Manu Vatuvei 31 W 15 32
Ken Maumalo 23 W 10 52

Strongest 17

1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
2. David Fusitua
3. Tuimoala Lolohea
4. Solomone Kata
5. Manu Vatuvei
6. Kieran Foran
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Ben Matulino
9. Issac Luke
10. Albert Vete
11. Bodene Thompson
12. Ryan Hoffman
13. Simon Mannering

BENCH
14. Jacob Lillyman
15. Sam Lisone
16. Bunty Afoa
17. Jazz Tevaga

Close Results Record

Wins: 4
Losses: 3

The Professor’s Prediction

Verdict – 7th

Your Prediction

Melbourne Storm 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

 

Signings & Losses

Losses: Kevin Proctor (Gold Coast – SR), Blake Green (Manly – FE), Marika Koroibete (Union – W), Ben Hampton (North Queensland – C), Ryan Morgan (ESL – C), Richard Kennar (Canterbury – C), Matt White (QLD Cup – P)

The strongest side throughout 2016 losses some great talent. The New Zealand representative second-row partnership is broken with Proctor moving back to where he grew up on the Gold Coast. The blow will be softened with Asofa-Solomona showing great potential last season. Blake Green was the perfect compliment to Cronk and can take some kudos for his Dally M Medal. It’s yet to be seen who will replace him with up to 4 players in the running. Koroibete’s speed and power will be missed although his speed will more than be replaced by perhaps the fastest man in the NRL in Addo-Carr. Hampton moves up north after fulfilling the utility role for the Storm over many years.

Signings: Josh Addo-Carr (Wests – W), Vincent Leuluai (Sydney – SR), Jahrome Hughes (North Queensland – FB)

As usual, the Storm has invested their money in youngsters with little cap space to move. Addo-Carr carries the biggest name of the recruits after bursting on the scene in 2016. He will slot straight onto the wing and establish himself as one of the top finishers. Leuluai also debuted in 2016 with 2 games for the Roosters before injury cut short his season. His debut game alone showed enormous potential and the Storm pounced immediately. Should find himself a regular bench spot. Hughes, like the others, got his chance over the State of Origin period in the fullback role and performed admiralty. He will again struggle to find a spot in the 1st-grade squad but with his versatility across the back line, he will play more than once.

 

Player Rankings

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Cheyse Blair 25 C 17 10
Will Chambers 29 C 17 40
Curtis Scott 20 C 2 52
Jeremy Hawkins 24 C DNP DNP
Shem Tatupu 22 C DNP DNP
Cameron Munster 23 FB 24 3
Billy Slater 34 FB 1 4
Jahrome Hughes 23 FB 1 13
Cooper Cronk 34 HB 26 4
Brodie Croft 20 HB 1 16
Ryley Jack 25 HB DNP DNP
Cameron Smith 34 HK 26 1
Brandon Smith 21 HK DNP DNP
Jake Turpin 21 HK DNP DNP
Dale Finucane 26 LK 27 8
Slade Griffin 26 LK 1 26
Jesse Bromwich 28 P 27 4
Jordan McLean 26 P 21 40
Tim Glasby 28 P 22 51
Felise Kaufusi 25 P 21 75
Christian Welch 23 P 17 90
Mark Nicholls 27 P DNP DNP
Charlie Galo 21 P DNP DNP
Tohu Harris 25 SR 27 3
Kenneath Bromwich 26 SR 27 35
Nelson Asofa-Solomona 21 SR 15 43
Vincent Leuluai 22 SR 2 82
Dean Britt 23 SR DNP DNP
Joe Stimson 22 SR DNP DNP
Tui Kamikamica 23 SR DNP DNP
Suliasi Vunivalu 22 W 21 7
Josh Addo-Carr 22 W 9 12
Young Tonumaipea 25 W 12 51
Justin Olam 24 W DNP DNP

Strongest 17

1. Billy Slater
2. Suliasi Vunivalu
3. Cheyse Blair
4. Will Chambers
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Cameron Munster
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Cameron Smith
10. Jordan McLean
11. Kenneath Bromwich
12. Tohu Harris
13. Dale Finucane

BENCH
14. Tim Glasby
15. Felise Kaufusi
16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
17. Vincent Leuluai

 

Close Results Record

Wins: 6
Losses: 1

The Professor’s Prediction

Verdict – 1st

Your Prediction