Fairfax Media’s rugby league writers lay it on the line before the opening game of the season, giving you their top eight and picks for the premiership.
Adrian ProszenkoCanterburySouthsMelbourneManlyNth QldCronullaBrisbaneRoosters
Who’ll get the choccies?Canterbury are about to prove they aren’t a one-man team. The loss of Ben Barba is a blow, which many teams wouldn’t recover from. But they have learned much from their grand final loss and Des Hasler will have them primed to take the next step.
Roy MastersMelbourneCanterburySouthsNth QldCronullaCanberraRoostersManly
Who’ll get the choccies?The Storm will be the first NRL club since the Broncos in the early 1990s to repeat as premiers. The form of forward Tohu Harris in the World Club Challenge shows Melbourne can still find players to replace those who have departed.
Brad WalterSouthsNth QldMelbourne RoostersCanterburyWests TigersCanberraManly
Who’ll get the choccies?The Rabbitohs have got the strike power, the depth and the big match experience to finally end the 42-year premiership drought. Greg Inglis has had the chance to train all summer at fullback, but it is the strength of their forwards that give Souths the edge.
Glenn JacksonNth QldSouthsMelbourneNewcastleRoostersCanterburyCronullaManly
Who’ll get the choccies?Someday, the Cowboys are going to turn their enormous potential into a premiership. Now seems like as good a chance as any. Souths look fitter and quicker than they were last year, and I think they’ll be pipped by the Cowboys in the grand final.
Richard HindsCanterburySouthsNth QldMelbourneCronullaNewcastleCanberraWests Tigers
Who’ll get the choccies?A club with their backs to the wall? Des Hasler trying to piece a team together without his champion fullback? If you can see through the celebratory confetti, you’ll know how that one ends.
Michael ChammasCronullaSouthsMelbourneRoostersNewcastleCanterburyNth QldSt Geo Illa
Who’ll get the choccies?The Storm deserve to be the favourites. South Sydney will go close but their lack of depth in the halves is a concern. The Sharks are a very balanced football side. They are probably a superstar centre short but their forward pack is the best in the comp.
Daniel LaneSouthsCanterburyMelbourneManlyCronullaNth QldCanberraRoosters
Who’ll get the choccies?Souths will win the title having addressed the lapses in their defence and the errors that cost them dearly last season. The Rabbitohs have obvious strike power but the side complements its attacking flair with a relentless approach to defence.
Phil LuttonMelbourneSouthsNth QldCanterbury ManlyCronullaBrisbaneCanberra
Who’ll get the choccies?New recruits make this a tough eight to predict but I can’t go past the Cowboys. Between the front row demolition job that Tamou and Scott will do and the brilliance of Thurston and Bowen, the time is right for the Far North to go bananas.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.