Mick’s 2007 NRL Preview

Can you hear the sound of bodies crunching against bodies?

Can you smell the sweat?

It is near.

YES!

The Footy is BACK!

After missing a whole season last year, I am desperate to see some League and can’t wait for the season to start this weekend. Yes, some of my readers may not give a crap, but too bad. This is my blog and I’ll cry if I want to. Or something like that…

Here is my rundown of the Teams for 2007 and what I think their chances are…(from a mad Eels fan’s point of view)

Brisbane Broncos Brisbane Broncos

2006 – Premiers (from 3rd)
Mick’s 2007 Prediction -3rd

They managed to finally get over their finals hoodoo’s and win their first premiership since 2000 last year. They have always had a strong team, but with the juniors that have come through over the last few years like Karmichael Hunt and Darius Boyd, they have combined with their aging crew of Lockyer, Civoneciva, Carroll and Thorn and seem to have won when people probably expected them to flail away in the finals again.

To be honest, I dunno how they did win. I mean, they had their day in the 90’s. it’s time for other teams to bump them back down the ladder.

Look for Lockyer to get a major injury in Round 3 and then Hunt will be move to the halves and they will be in all sorts of trouble, but if not, they will be up there…

Canberra Raiders Canberra Raiders

2006 – 7th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 13th

The team that I love to hate…and pile shit on…and hate some more. Yes, I live here, but I was not born here. Yes they were involved in a great Grand Final in 1989, but what have they done for Canberra LATELY? And who is in their team? I just happened to be at the Season Launch on Saturday at Regatta Point and the huge crowd of 50 or so was cheering names like, Dane Tilse, once accused of indecently assaulting a woman in Newcastle, Todd Carney, recently fined $2000 for drunk driving, and other memorable names like William Zillman (apparently a new sex symbol in league?), Adrian Purtell (who?) and Troy Thompson.

Ok, so I have been out of the country for a year, but can this team really make any headway into the league? Their former captain and best player (and former Eels player, Schifcoske) deserted them for Union. They have picked up Colin Best, who is way past it. I really don’t know what they can offer, but who knows…maybe the youngsters in the team can spark some sort of miraculous revival of the Raiders and people will actually bother going to Bruce in the freezing sleet to see them.

Bulldogs Canterbury Bulldogs

2006 – 2nd
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 2nd

They have the backs (El Masri, Tonga, Utai). They have the forwards (O’Meley, Mason, Ryan). They are a pretty complete team. But this is their downfall. They don’t seem to combine very well and Sherwin’s kicking game is just crap. I think I would rather the Parra players returned home (Tonga and Ryan) and the Bulldogs to become the ordinary team they should be.

Unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen. They will go well for one more year until they lose a few players at the end of ’07. I am predicting them to grab 2nd just behind my beloved Eels. It’s time to re-ignite the battles of the 80’s my friends.

But this time there will be no Bulldog premierships.

The Sharks Cronulla Sharks

2006 – 13th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 12th

This team can’t seem to win a premiership if it was dancing in the palm of their hand while they were clapping. For some reason, they just seem to be there…or there abouts but can never crack the big time. So, can they do it this year? No bloody way. Even with Dykes and Kimmorley in the halves, and Gallen and Thompson up front there is just no enough depth in this team to make a dent in the bigger names.

Tricky Ricky Stuart is the new coach. I’m sorry. This really is not going to help them. He has a way of alienating the team and the fans and I think it was a backwards step for the franchise. Oh yeah, and he is a total wanker. Great player. Real wanker. Like a lot of ex-Raiders 😉

They won’t go any better than last year I don’t think. They just don’t have the firepower..

Gold Coast Titans Gold Coast Titans

2006 – Not around!
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 8th

It’s a real guessing game with this side. A brand new team is always going to have problems in their first year. There’ll be combination issues, coaching issues and off-field issues (as we have seen already with Laffranchi). And will the fans turn up? I think they have every chance to be a big big team in a few years, but I’d give them 3 years to settle in before expecting too much.

Let’s look at their big names though. Mat Rogers of course is their ‘star’ signing. is he past it? Is he going to have that spark he used to have? Somehow, I think that he will be disappointing. I am all for League defectors coming back into the fold, but I worry that the Union experience will screw them up and they will suddenly realise that playing in front of a crowd of 12,000 at the Gold Coast is not the same as 50,000 at Stadium Australia. The Titans have recruited lesser name players from bigger clubs. Delaney, O’Dwyer and Petersen from Parramatta. Hodgson and Kahler from the Raiders. This is where the team will fall down. No depth. This will only be solved with a couple of years of playing and building a club.

Look out for Preston Campbell and Scott Prince in the halves. I am looking forward to seeing these 2 play together. If they can fire, they will make the Top 8 in their inaugural season. If not, expect them to be languishing in the bottom 4.

Manly Sea-Eagles Manly Sea-Eagles

2006 – 5th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 9th

Ok, firstly. I hate Manly like everyone else and to make matters worse they have Jamie Lyon who defected from the Eels because he couldn’t handle the ‘big city’ then ran away to England for a couple of years (winning player of the year for both of them) and then returns to the team that wanted to snatch him right from the start. Every Parra fan can be legitimately pissed off at this player, but the fact remains that he is a SUPERSTAR. He is and has been for years the best centre in the game and he will spark something at the Sea-Eagles that could see them improve on last years surprising result.

But does Lyon have enough support around him? Firstly, Ben Kennedy is gone. Big cross. Anthony Watmough has had big wraps on him for years, but can he really deliver when it’s needed? Big test for him this year. Matt Orford. Really? He’s still at Manly?

Don’t expect miracles from the team, but watch Jamie, while us Parra fans sob.

Mind you, I HOPE he goes crap so we can go…”Yeah..we never wanted him anyway..”

Melbourne Storm Melbourne Storm

2006 – 1st (Lost Grand Final)
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 4th

I spent last year in the USA just wondering why the hell Melbourne was on top of the ladder. A travesty is what I think it is. Melbourne should not be in the comp, let alone have won a premiership and get the minor premiership last year. But besides all that, they are here to stay (for now) and they have a strong team which obviously knows how to win.

Although I am not a Storm fan as such, they have players that I enjoy watching. Matt King, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater are all world class players and they make for exciting games. (They also have one of the players I hate the MOST in Michael Crocker). I also think that the more fans that Melbourne can rip away from the Aerial Ping Pong, the better!

They kicked arse last year, but as we know that means nothing this year, so expect a fall from grace for this team. They’ll make the 8, and maybe the top 4 but normality will be restored with 2 Sydney teams in the 2007 Grand Final (I’m getting to that)

So really, I bitch and moan about Melbourne, but maybe I should give them credit for being a team that has, against the odds, performed well and given a bit of real sport to the Mexicans.

Newcastle Knights Newcastle Knights

2006 – 4th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction -6th

Aaaah. The shoe is on the other foot now! Michael Hagan and Brian Smith did the old swaparooni and now it’s time to see if it was really Smith all along that stopped us from winning a premiership. Hagan of course had Andrew Johns to thank for his, but is there more to it than that? The Knights have been a disappointment for years (since 2001) and although funnily enough I still have a soft spot for them, my patience is starting to wear thin for them.

Joey doesn’t have long to go, and although he is one of the best players to play the game, I think his aura is waning and he no longer carries the team like he did. So who does he have around him now? Jarred Mullen is his half partner. Young and un-tested but with big-wraps. I think it’s a good idea to get young talent in there, but don’t know if he’ll do what Matt Gidley (pissed off to St. Helens) was able to do in the last couple of years. Mind you, he might be the best thing since sliced cucumber. Not sure yet.

Brian Smith is a good coach. He can bring the best out in youngsters and knows how to spot talent. Problem? His selection policies have always left a little to be desired. He will persist with players when they seem to be going crap and will hold off bringing in the good young blood until it’s too late. Who’s knows how he will treat this new team of his.

They’ll make the finals because Joey is still there and the youngsters will learn a lot from Smith the experienced players. Look out if Joey gets a run in Origin because then the fire will re-ignite in his belly and the Knights could soar again…

New Zealand Warriors New Zealand Warriors

2006 – 10th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction -14th

Honestly? I have no idea about the Warriors. I’ve never really cared about them or thought they were worthy of much. Back in their glory days of up and coming alphabetic named Kiwis they could be exciting one week and total duds the next. Has this changed? Maybe. Their newest Kiwi sensation has a sensible name like Russell Packer. They have lost players like Sione Faumuina (Cowboys), George Tuakura (released) and Clinton Taupi (Leeds, Eng), but still there’s Lance Hohaia, who I have always had a wrap on.

They also have the oldest front row in the game with Steve Price and Ruben Wiki. Ex-Parra player Wade McKinnon will do his best at the back (as always) but I just don’t think the Kiwis will push most teams this year and they’ll struggle to make the 8.

North Queensland Cowboys North Queensland Cowboys

2006 – 9th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction -16th

After reaching the lofty heights of a Grand Final in 2005 they crashed back to earth last year, missing the finals and losing their sparkling attack. Expect another slide down the ladder this season as they have lost Travis Norton (retired), Matt Sing (Hull), Josh Hannay (Sharks), Gavin Cooper (Titans), Brett Firman (Panthers), Clint Amos (Titans) and Mitchell Sargent (Knights). Sure, they still have Matt Bowen, Ty Williams and Carl Webb, who will welcome the has-been of all has-beens Jason Smith into the fold, but is this enough to get back up the ladder?

Don’t even mention Jonathon Thurston to me. Most over-rated player in the comp he is and I think we will be proven this over the next year. I’m not a big fan of the Cowboys most of the time, but if their exciting back get the ball and throw it around it might be worthwhile catching them.

Someone has to come last this season and I am not prepared to pick the bunnies there, so that dubious honour goes to the Cowboys. Injuries, Form and Malaria will strike down this team and they will resume their position in the basement. Sorry Queenslanders, but buck up, you still have the Titans.

Parramatta Eels Parramatta Eels

2006 – 8th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction -1st

Yes, Yes. I am biased, but here is why the Eels will grab back the minor premiership that they so rightly deserve.

– Hindmarsh is a lifer and the best second-rower I have ever seen. He is signed with the Eels till 2010 at least and will cut off his right testicle for a premiership. It is coming…
– As it was proved when Jason Taylor took over the Eels in the second half of last season, the team is dying to prove themselves to a new coach. Michael Hagan will give them freedom, open up the forwards running game and give the backs the room they need. And don’t forget. Hagan won a premiership with the Knights in his first year there.
– Jarryd Hayne. A try-scoring freak. Sure, he gets himself in the right place at the right time, but he is more than just a finisher. Can’t wait to see what he pulls out of the bag.
– Finch and Smith. It’s time for a new Kenny and Sterlo. No, these 2 are never going to ever reach those heights, but they are 2 quality halves. If they can keep their flapping mouths shut they will play.
– And if Finch and Smith screw up, we have Blake Green and Feleti Mateo just champing at the bit for a run in the halves. They could be even better.
– Eric Grothe Jr, Ben Smith, Fui Fui Moi Moi, Timana Tahu and brother Ian Hindmarsh returning to the fold. This is a quality team. They just need to remember that.

Ok, so maybe in 6 weeks time the Eels will be languishing and not realising their full potential once again, but then again they could be at the tip of the ladder and blowing other teams away.

The latter is a lot more likely this year…

Please??

Penrith Panthers Penrith Panthers

2006 – 12th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 15th
Ouch. Where are the Panthers headed. The old days seem to be fading and with just the 2 Luke’s (Rooney and Lewis) hanging out the back with trouble-maker captain Gower and Luke Priddis still hanging on to the hooker role. They do have a few players left that can play, but where’s the passion that the Panthers had all those years ago (in 2003) when they won the lot?

Preston Campbell has left the fold and Firman is not a sufficient replacement. I just can’t see where they are headed other than down the ladder from last year. They were unlucky to miss the finals last year but this year they will be wishing they were unlucky.

Youngsters round out the rest of the team. Many whose names I have never heard (Wallace, Gordon, Jennings?) so I fearlessly predict them to battle it out with the Cowboys for the spoon.

Sydney Roosters South Sydney Rabbitohs

2006 – 15th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 5th

The Bunnies, my friends, are back. New Coach, quality recruits, new attitude to the club. This is the year that many a suffering Rabbitoh fan has been waiting for.

Gains for 2007 are Roy Asotasi (Bulldogs), David Kidwell (Storm), Nigel Vagana (Sharks), Dean Widders (Eels), Jeremy Smith (Eels), Daniel Irvine (Bulldogs), Reece Simmonds (Dragons) and of course Jason Taylor as coach. Those players alone give them a strong base, but include that with David Peachey, Nigel Vagana, Shannon Hegarty and youngster Eddie Paea and you have a team!

I really want to see them go well. I have always liked the old adage that if the Bunnies are doing well, then the League is doing well. So here’s to the Bunnies pulling out all the stops, winning more than a handful of games and smashing into the Top 8.

St.George-Illawarra Dragons St. George Illawarra Dragons

2006 – 6th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 10th

Those bloody Dragons. Every year they reckon they have the shit and every year they screw up. Similar to the Eels and Sharks they have a good team on paper, but can never seem to translate that into a premiership. This season they look to have lost a lot of quality on paper with losses including Luke Bailey (Titans), Trent Barrett (Wigan, Eng.), Michael Henderson (Titans), Shaun Timmins (retired), Aaron Gorrell (Le Catalans, France), Colin Best (Raiders), Matt Bickerstaff (Raiders), Clint Greenshields (Le Catalans, France), Reece Simmonds (Rabbitohs).

That’s a bulk of players to lose, and of course the loss of Gasnier through injury just adds to the toll. They still have quality in Matt Cooper, Ben Hornby, Matthew Head, Jason Ryles and Dean Young but i think that they will struggle to regain the form they achieved last year. No finals to worry about this year Dragons fans!

Sydney Roosters Sydney Roosters

2006 – 14th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 11th

The apparent saviour, Anthony Minichello, is back on board but is this going to restore the Roosters back into the Top 8 after a shocking second last in 2006? Well they do have one thing going for them, they got rid of Ricky Stuart, but now they have Chris Anderson instead (moan). Yeah, they’ve still got Anasta, Flannery, Fitzgibbon, Nutley and Wing, but is that really what they need any more? What they lack is the passion. Even when they win the premiership they don’t seem to have that passion to keep winning.

I guess all that sun and surf in Bondi is pretty distracting when it comes down to it. But damn, if I could work out and do footy training 5 days a week and then jump into the surf, I would love it.

I think they’ll go better than last year, but will still fall short of the finals for the 2nd straight year. Oh well…back to the beach.

Wests Tigers Wests Tigers

2006 – 11th
Mick’s 2007 Prediction – 7th

The Tigers were toothless without Benji Marshall, but he is fit and back and I think he will give them the boost they need to get back into Finals contention. Of course they will miss Scott Prince (Titans), but Johnny Morris (Eels) is a worthy replacement. And if the forwards of O’Hara, Payten, Farah and the Galeas can work their wonders then they will roll all over some weaker teams.

I was tempted to predict these guys higher, but injuries could play a big part in their season. Benji has still not made it through an entire season, and if 1 or 2 of those forwards go down, then they could be in all sorts of trouble with not much depth in their lineup.

They’ll hit the 8 and might challenge the Bulldogs on Broncos on a good day in the first week.

..

So there we have it. My final ladder would look like this…

1 – Parramatta
2 – Bulldogs
3 – Brisbane
4 – Melbourne
5 – Souths
6 – Newcastle
7 – Wests
8 – Gold Coast

9 – Manly
10 – St. George
11 – Sydney
12 – Sharks
13 – Canberra
14 – New Zealand
15 – Penrith
16 – North Queensland

Go on! Tell me I’ve got it all cocked up!

Hey, I’m just impressed if you made it this far!

2007. The year of the EEL!

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About Mick

I've been around a while. I like to wrap myself around the warm security of the interwebs which have consumed me since 1993. I whinge, I rant, I crap on. Enjoy. View all posts by Mick

7 responses to “Mick’s 2007 NRL Preview

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