1. Dragons have found the missing pieces
The Dragons started the season off with a bang scoring a 34-12 victory over the Broncos. There is a lot to get excited about when it comes to the Dragons new recruits, James Graham was at his British bulldog best with 23 tackles and running for 107 meters the same as the Broncos best. Dragons fans would love having a genuine number 7 for the first time in years and it reflected on the scoreboard as well scoring 34 points, 12 more than their average last season. Against his old side, Hunt was good without being great but you can see a lot of potential there St George is hoping for the half to go from strength to strength. I don’t think they are top 4 material but as the side gels, I can easily see them pushing into the bottom half of the 8 come September.
2. Kalyn Ponga is a star
What were the Cowboys thinking to let a player of his quality go? The Knights superstar showed flashes of brilliance throughout Friday nights game. The young fullback scored a try with his first touch and saved at least two or three the best, stopping a certain try in the corner to a flying Uate with a great diving effort. He also managed 115 run meters and an incredible 8 tackle breaks if he can stay at that pace he’s in for a record season. He also looked good with the boot slotting 3/3 in the Knights golden point victory over Manly. Expect big things from KP in 2018.
3. Cowboys are STACKED
The Cowboys were impressive from the opening kick off in their win over other premiership contenders Cronulla. JT, wow what more can you say in his 300th and first competitive game since June 21 last year even without his partner in crime Australian representative Michael Morgan he was just incredible he really is a class above. Taumalolo has continued his 2017 finals form, which is great news for the cowboy’s and with the addition of Mclean and Scott back from injury their forward pack is arguably the best we have ever seen in the NRL. To the Sharks credit, they didn’t go away the whole 80 minutes. I think both sides are in for a top-four finish.
4. 2018 Tigers Underrated
The Tigers are the most underrated side of 2018. Even without their biggest offseason signing, they stunned the highly favoured Roosters. I think most people were expecting the Roosters to cruise to victory but the Tiger’s defence really stood up this week. Their goal line defence was just outstanding; despite all the chooks firepower, they managed to hold them to only one try the entire game. The Tigers led most of the game and will only get better when Reynolds comes back. Look out for them to definitely improve on their 14th finish last season.
5. Blake Green buy of the season
The Warriors finally broke their nine game losing streak in Perth Saturday night and Blake Green was instrumental. Not since the Maloney years have the Warriors had a 5/8 of this quality and they managed to make the grand final in those years with a squad that had much less talent. Green seemed to slot in seamlessly, he set up one try but it’s the small things you don’t notice on TV or won’t show up on the stats that impressed me. He took a lot of the pressure off Johnson something that hasn’t happened the past few seasons, the freedom really showed through with flashes of Johnsons golden boot form showing through. I know it’s the Warriors and you never know with them in seasons past but I think Green can be the change maker and steer them to finals footy.
6. No Cronk no worries
Cooper who? Even missing Slater through injury and Cronk no longer being at the club, the Storm started 2018 exactly how they ended last season. Munster was the star in the 36-18 victory setting up 3 tries. With the young halves pairing of Jacks and Croft you’d be forgiven if you thought the Storm would struggle, but no it seems whoever puts on the storm jersey is an instant success. It shows the class of the whole Storm organization, as long as Bellamy is there, the storm will be top 4 contenders.
7. Nathan Cleary should be NSW halfback
The young Panthers number 7 showed his class in the 24-14 victory over the favoured Eels. Cleary looked great steering the side around the park; it’s hard to believe he is still only 20. Seeing as Cleary is so young if the blues get their act together they will have the halfback to build around for the next 10-15 years. He totally outplayed other NSW half hopeful Mitchell Moses in pretty much every category. Cleary almost ran for 100 meters – the most of any other Halfback or 5/8 this round. His 316 kick meters also put him top 3 in round 1. He was 6/6 with the boot, Cleary’s outstanding goal kicking would be a very handy assist for the blues in 2018.
8. Ash Taylor is real contender for Dally M
Ash Taylor was outstanding in the Titans come from behind win over the Raiders. He set up 3 of the Titans tries and just looked a class above the rest of the players on the field. I think he has a good chance at being towards the top of the Dally M count come the end of the season. He is easily the Titans best player so you’d expect him to poll 3 points in the majority of the Titans wins. If he can keep up this kind of form he could single-handedly push the Titans into the 8.