Today marks five weeks until the NRL officially kicks off, with the Perth Nines just a week away. As the silly season comes to a close and rosters become finalised, it’s time to predict which teams will burst onto the scene in 2020… And which teams begin their slide.

The Top 8

1. Melbourne Storm

Finals Week 3 Loss

People are predicting Melbourne to slide once again in 2020, but with names like Munster, Smith, Smith, Addo-Carr, Vunivalu, Bromwich (x 2), Kaufusi, Papehuyzen, Asofa-Solomona, Finucane… You get the picture. They’re still choc full of class and x-factor, and will stand up once again this year.

2. Sydney Roosters

Finals Week 3 Loss

Similar to Melbourne, don’t judge the club by who’ve they’ve lost, but rather who they still have. The late loss of Mitchell will cost them the Minor Premiership, with goal kicking the unspoken fear for the Chooks. Will come down to whether they can recover from Billy Smith’s injury.

3. South Sydney Rabbitohs

Runners-up

The Rabbitohs have the most exciting backline in the competition. However, after seemingly failing to lure Jai Arrow for this season, they seem a forward or two short this season. If Latrell hits the ground running at fullback, they could win it all. Need huge seasons from underrated prop duo Liam Knight and Junior Tatola.

4. Parramatta Eels

Premiers

They’ve finally got the squad to contend, now it’s time for them to prove it. With Andrew Johns on board as halves coach, look for some huge improvement in Dylan Brown and particularly Mitchell Moses, a Dally M bolter. Probably the second-best backline in the comp, provided the club has a good run with injuries, this could be the year the drought breaks.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 22: Brad Takairangi and Michael Jennings of the Eels celebrate Jennings scoring a try during the round 6 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium on April 22, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

5. Brisbane Broncos

Finals Week 2 Loss

Don’t underestimate the arrival of Brodie Croft. Not only will he provide class, but his organisation will help Milford and newfound fullback Jamayne Isaako play off the back of the halfback, and focus on their own game. Haas will have another huge year but they’re really missing experience in their pack outside captain Alex Glenn.

6. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

Finals Week 1 Loss

If Tom Trbojevic stays on the park all year, Manly are a definite dark horse in this competition. Though with Manase Fainu stood down and Dylan Walker set to play five-eighth, their spine seems lacking and it’ll put immense pressure on Turbo and DCE to create.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 09: Tom Trbojevic of the Sea Eagles charges forward during the round 14 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the New Zealand Warriors at AMI Stadium on June 9, 2018 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

7. North Queensland Cowboys

Finals Week 2 Loss

It’ll be a big comeback year for the Cowboys, with the arrival of superstar Valentine Homes and youngsters Esan Marsters and Reece Robson. The make or break will be Michael Morgan, who hasn’t reached top form since his bicep tear midway through 2018. With Scott Drinkwater set to partner Morgan at the scrumbase, the future looks bright for the Cowboys, especially with a new stadium set to be christened in the opening round.

8. Cronulla Sharks

Finals Week 1 Loss

This is a side dancing on a knife’s edge, they could click and win the premiership, or they could crash, burn and miss the finals. Their biggest issue is their spine. Moylan, Townsend and Johnson are all fantastic playmakers, problem is they all want to be the dominant one. Johnson must be moved back to halfback and be allowed to take control, and have Moylan and Townsend play off the back of it. They’ll sneak in.

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The Rest

9. Wests Tigers

Deja vu, groundhog day, say what you want, it’s happening again. Wests have made some nifty signings with the Leilua brothers and Doueihi, but there’s simply too many quality teams in front of them. They’re on the right track, but they’ll need to get rid of some of the awful contracts Ivan Cleary left them with. Give it another season or two until Maguire has the roster he’s built, and then we’ll see what they can do.

10. Canberra Raiders

Now this is the one that will surprise. Canberra will drop from a Grand Final appearance in 2019 – to missing the finals a year later. Releasing Aidan Sezer will bite them, with George Williams a much more similar half to Jack Wighton in terms of running game, but that will hinder them. And to boot, about five or six Canberra players enjoyed ‘career best’ year’s in 2019, and it’s incredibly hard to back those years and produce the same two years running. Not to mention losing Curtis Scott hours after releasing Joseph Leilua.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 27: Raiders players pose for a photograph following the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Canberra Raiders and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium on September 27, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

11. Newcastle Knights

Another club who’s roster has improved, but simply has too many good sides ahead of them. Brailey will plug their middle third defence, but this will be a year of introducing the likes of Starford To’a, Bradman Best and Phoenix Crossland to regular first-grade, and as tough as it sounds for debutant coach Adam O’Brien, this year will be spent preparing for a serious crack in 2021.

12. St. George Illawarra Dragons

The loss of Gareth Widdop is going to hurt this club. A lot. His class on and off the field will be missed, and with veterans Isaac Luke and Trent Merrin their big signings, there isn’t a lot of promise for the Red V except for having Shane Flanagan involved with the side. Paul McGregor will do well to finish the season still at the reins.

13. Penrith Panthers

Penrith debuted a stack of players in 2019, with the likes of Brian To’o, Brent Naden, Mitch Kenny and Liam Martin certain to be better for the run. Add in the signatures of Api Koroisau, Kurt Capewell and Zane Tetevano, you’d think they’d be better.

But don’t underestimate the influence of James Maloney and the calm he brings to a side. Nathan Cleary simply doesn’t seem ready to take control, and need more guidance than Jarome Luai can offer. Will be a year of building combinations.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 14: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers looks dejected during the NRL Semi Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium on September 14, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

14. Gold Coast Titans

Now here’s another shock – the Titans aren’t last as so many predict. The introduction of Justin Holbrook will really do wonders for the side, and AJ Brimson being guaranteed the fullback role all year will see him really develop, potentially into the Queensland 14. They need to get more of the big names on their roster, Ash Taylor especially, but they won’t finish last.

15. New Zealand Warriors

Something needs to give. The problem with the Warriors lies within their pride. It’s a similar predicament to Newcastle a few years ago, their overreliance on their junior system. They are proud of the nursery they have at their disposal but you must recruit stars. RTS is a Dally M winner but he can’t do it alone.

It’s the only New Zealand club so of course you’d want to display pride in your nation and have a predominantly Kiwi side, but imagine what players like a Dave Klemmer, an Aidan Sezer, a Jayden Brailey could do for that side. Until they look at recruiting the elite instead of focusing on juniors, they’ll stay a bottom four side.

16. Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

The ‘Dogs of War’ will struggle once again in 2020. The unveiling of Luke Thompson’s signature for 2021 is massive, and can’t be understated, but for 2020… It’s not looking good.

Fans are up in arms because, according the most comment sections ‘it’s unfair that South’s get compensation for Inglis and Burgess but the Bulldogs don’t with Foran’. It’s a completely different scenario – Inglis and Burgess retired, Foran is just hurt.

A spine featuring Lachlan Lewis, Brandon Wakeham/Jack Cogger and Jeremy Marshall-King isn’t exactly a scary thought for opposition teams. It’ll be a bleak year in Belmore.

52 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah it’s a cut and paste from the last article, but hey, merely my opinion….
    said it before and I’ll say it again, I reckon Parra will be this year’s premiers. They have bought very astutely and will be F hard to beat at BankWest.
    As much as I hate to say it, I think my beloved Chooks will fall off the pace this year, along with Melbourne, and the vermin will choke yet again, having no decent forwards.
    Having said this, I reckon we WILL see Manly, Canberra and Newcastle all become big threats and maybe even the tiges.
    Top 8 finish….

    1/ Parra
    2/ Canberra
    3/ Melbourne
    4/ Newcastle
    5/ Roosters
    6/ Manly
    7/ Brisbane – (the assholes)
    8/ Tigers

  2. Even the experts are tipping South Sydney Sombreros can win it if their million dollar boy goes well.

    It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure. I believe he gets frazzled too easily…

    My prediction

    Back to Back to Back Chokes for South Sydney Sombreros

  3. What a magnificent picture of Latrell.
    The kid has never been happier since coming home to his beloved Rabbitohs.

  4. The roosters are on an obvious down slide with the main influence, the MCR being overhauled after their diabolical leg ups to them last year.
    Add to that no Cronk, no Latrell and Keary 1 knock away from retirement things very shaky in spring st.

  5. easy little 21… eaaaasy…
    i can see the triple choke has you on edge.
    Dont worry , it will be just like all the other 50 years of failures for you guys..

    Albeit there is no excuse now with Packer and Crow’s Billions and the playing for less speech that Bennett mastered at the Broncos,

  6. TwentyOne February 6, 2020 at 11:37 am
    The roosters are on an obvious down slide

    Well…. we cant really go any higher now can we???

  7. Rucky, you should know by now that your post needs to include some Souths/Roosters drivel or hate in order to guarantee it will appear.

    I think that the predicted top eight is close enough however I would have Canberra in the eight and Souths out. I just don’t think they have the forwards to get there.

  8. Barry Beath February 6, 2020 at 12:07 pm
    I just don’t think they have the forwards to get there.

    I disagree with you… their forwards are very strong,
    Murray is one of the best players in the league,
    Damien Cook the current Australian hooker,
    Burgess English international
    Ethan Lowe – State of Origin and Australia Rep
    Liam Knight – one of the most promising as a youngsters in the game is set for a big year after performing very well last year
    Jayden Sua – another very hot prospect chased hard by Bennett
    Tevita tatolla – Tongan international

    What else do you want to win a comp?
    They should win it or it will be a disaster.

  9. The only thing I’ll predict is that parra will leverage their inconsistency to not be premiers this year.

  10. Ok now the curse of death has been placed on parra. It’s a very big call indeed however they need to improve their defence by at least 23% against last years stat to even go close considering BA kept his defence coach. Being a parra member I hope yr right 🙏 but my gut says not this year but maybe 2021.

  11. I gotta a feeling that Parra will be the team hyped up over the off season but fail to deliver the goods over the season. There’s always 1 or 2 who get talked up and fail

  12. You Roosters Rabbits supporters need to
    F
    U
    K
    U
    P
    Seriously give your retarded dribble a rest, you literally bring nothing worth while to the footy talk it’s just crap banter at each other.

    Anyone else’s articles getting chopped on their phone screens ZT must’ve done an update

  13. Mole, I hope Souths do well however, apart from Cook and Murray, the rest of the forwards are fairly average, including Burgess who is a shadow of the player he once was.

    They’ll need a better middle forward rotation than the one they have in order to give the likes of Cook and Murray the go forward they’ll need to play off.

    Time will tell.

  14. The Dogs to get the spoon? Do you need your head checked? They finished no where near it the last two years so no chance they get it this year, especially with some solid signings..

  15. My tip to win in 2020 is Parramatta. I really like their spine and see a lot of improvement there. I would be very disappointed if Canterbury do finish last however anything can happen, And for all you chooks fans, don’t take my next comment as me bagging your team, because I’m not. But I have placed a little wager with my favourite sports betting agency that Roosters don’t make the 8. My thought being, if Keary gets a concussion during the season he is likely to be out for a long period. I think they’d struggle to fill that void.

  16. If Parramata win it? At least it’s not The Nuggets, South’s , Melbourne or the Broncos winning it. That’s the biggest bonus!

  17. I don’t want to see it happen, shuts13, because I’d rather every team have their best players available. And, in the interviews I’ve seen, Keary comes across as a decent guy.

  18. 21 I actually have noticed that about Mitchell the dude look miserable at the chooks, he does look heaps happier at Bunnies. I had last season as his breakout superstar season but it wasn’t to be, you can see that phenomenal flicker there waiting. This season like I said I’d have him as favourite for the Dally M.

    No way I’d have Panthers and Raiders so low on the ladder.

    Top 4 is on point

  19. 1. Storm (runners up)
    2. Rabbitohs
    3. Parramatta (premiers)
    4. Roosters
    5. Sea Eagles
    6. Broncos
    7. Sharks
    8. Tigers
    ———————————
    9. Cowboys
    10. Raiders
    11. Dragons
    12. Panthers
    13. Warriors
    14. Dragons
    15. Bulldogs
    16. Titans

  20. Brisbanes great young forwards will take Siebolds Broncos to the grand final.

    Sydney will reach a third consecutive grand final after a slow start adapting to a new halfback and peaking on grand final day to take the title

    Parramatta and Souths will have to much presure on them with all the hyp of another off season buying sprees. Both are guilty of trying to buy a
    premiership and both will fail.

    Gold Coast will not avoid the Wooden Spoon.

  21. My placings after the grand final

    1. Sydney
    2. Brisbane
    3. Canberra
    4. Manly
    5. Melbourne
    6. Parramatta
    7. Cowboys
    8. Cronulla/Canterbury/Souths/Penrith

  22. Zilzie bulldog I think u have misunderstood my comments about Kearney. I agree totally with u about him. I just didn’t think about the huge impact to roosters if he gets hurt. It’s going to be very close comp with lots of upsets along the way. Sadly refs decisions will have a huge impact on some games. I’m a firm supporter of our refs they do a great job but they r human n make mistakes.

  23. Anyone who thinks Melbourne will finish outside the top 4 is dreaming and Brisbane with liability boyd in the team won’t make the eight let alone second and you can definitely mark those words.

  24. Why would Melbourne qualify in the top four? They lost a winger and two centres plus the 2018 grand final half back that lead them to a minor premiership in 2019. They also lost their regular fullback whom Bellamy shifted to half, which indeed was a masive error.
    Melbournes forwards will carry them into the eight in 2020 but they are definatley no top four team.
    You can Mark.mywords. Ruckstar.

  25. Milfords experiment at fullback was a failure, miving him back to 5/8 and partnering Melbournes grand final halfback who lead Melbourne around all over the park last season to a massive minor premiership points tally win is Brisbanes missing link.
    Jack Bird Is overdue for a change of luck and a pretty classy threequarter line with their young dominant pack, Brisbane will be right up there in the top four. I still hate them though.

  26. 1. Canberra
    2. Parramatta
    3.Melbourne
    4. Sydney
    5. South Sydney
    6. Manly
    7. Newcastle
    8. Brisbane
    9. Cronulla
    10. Penrith
    11. Wests
    12. North Queensland
    13. Canterbury
    14. New Zealand
    15. Saints
    16. Titans

  27. Blythy makes his predictions based on his bias & secondly on who is listed in a starting line up.
    I agree that Penrith will most likely miss the top 8. Still, there’s more strings to the halves bow there than just Cleary , Luai.
    Burton is already in the top 30 squad & has looked a class above in every grade so far.
    He’s not the only up & coming player in the halves there either.
    The weakness is more likely to be out wide. Where there’s still the likes of Mansour , Whare. However, look out for Brayden McGrady . The former Tweed Heads top try scorer , from the Queensland Cup. He’s a flyer & was hampered by injuries last season.
    Also Charlie Staines if he gets a chance in first grade at fullback. A future first grader for sure.
    I still think Luai can also be a good centre, if he wasn’t at 5/8th . He’s a good defensive player & would bring something extra to the position.
    Shawn Blore is a classy junior rep player for second row & lock. So he’ll come into consideration for first grade at some time. Just one of the up & coming forwards there.
    So there’s still plenty to look forward to for any Panthers supporter.

  28. Once again Jack…your an idiot. You should start writing articles about pastry or fashion or something, cos you have no idea about the NRL.

  29. Mark – “Why would Melbourne qualify in the top four? They lost a winger and two centres plus the 2018 grand final half back that lead them to a minor premiership in 2019. They also lost their regular fullback whom Bellamy shifted to half, which indeed was a masive error.”

    1 – What winger have they lost ?, Suli is still there, Ado Carr is still there.
    2 – Melbourne got rid of Chambers because he wasn’t performing. He has been going down hill for a couple of years so no loss there.
    3 – I never really liked Croft in the 7 role so I don’t consider losing him to be a massive error. We do still have a problem there but it is the same problem we have had for 2 yrs now
    4 – Pappy is the regular fullback now and if he plays like he did back end of last season, I will be quite happy

    Melbourne have lost so called key players every year for the last decade yet have never fallen out of the top 4. Last year they were run away minor premiers yet they had just lost the greatest fullback in the game. The year before they were minor premiers and yet they had just lost the best no.7 in the game. They keep losing great players and yet they keep performing and I see no reason why they won’t do the same in 2020.

  30. Entitled to your opinion but I reckon that’s ladder is utter garbage. Only time will tell I guess but dogs for the spoon is the stupidest tip I’ve ever seen on the site.

  31. I agree with you daffy. I think the dogs have now found an excellent halves partnership. They seem to slowly building, but doing it well. Their form towards the end of last season speaks of far better things to come for the club.

  32. Yes Zilzie..
    I meant Wakeham , as one of the halves pairing with Lachlan Lewis. Is that your thought also?

  33. That is my thought EOD. Cogger is a solid player but Wakeham reminds me a lot of JT in 2003. I’d be pretty happy if he went on to have a career like JT’s. So I’m thinking Wakeham and Lewis.

  34. I like this honest Soufths nit/wit.
    3hats
    It is so amazing how the Sydney fans can all of a sudden “turn around the Sombrero tag” to a club that has been battlers for decades.
    No way!

    The Rabbitohs are nowhere near favourites as our Forwards are so young, maybe in a few years,
    A club that loses GI, Sutton, Sam and George… Doueihi Turner plus 5 other players, yet only Signs Mitchell…
    How the can we be favourites?

    I will tell you why 3capps. Bennett went all the way over to England last season to sign front rower Thompson. He gave Bennett the flick and Bennett came home with the worlds best Dud Goodwin all round.

  35. Top 8
    Manly
    Souths
    Storm
    Parra
    Roosters
    Sharks
    Knights
    Broncos

    No particular order, but I expect Roosters and Storm to be less successful than 2019
    Parra, Souths or Manly to win the big one

  36. I’m almost in agreeance with you Pablo64 except Parra at 1 and Manly around 4 or 5.
    Roosters definitely on a downslide to maybe 7 to 10 after for several factors.
    Cronk gone
    Latrell gone,
    Tetevano gone
    No decent recruitment with quality players choosing to sign elsewhere for less
    No more leg ups after the revamping of the MRC and judiciary
    Coming back to the field with only around $2m over the cap instead of $3-$4m
    New rule changes including penalty for having 2 fullbacks on at the same time.

  37. Pablo 64

    No doubt Roosters will find it tough to be at the highest level for yet another season… But we have a brilliant coach so I cant be sure what to expect to be honest
    I am expecting South Sydney Sombreros to take it out after being bridesmaids for the last couple of seasons.
    The 3 retirees were passengers last year and they should be better for it with the other guys stepping up.

    Roosters won the comp with how many rookies in 2018? Let’s see if SSSombreros can do it or be the unfortunate benefactors of the triple choke?

  38. I read a story talking about Cronulla & it’s money struggles.
    Another CEO gone. No main major sponsor.
    Playing out of Jubilee Oval in 2020 , as their ground is revamped . Their Leagues Club is not usable due to a full revamp. They bought a bowling club to use as a temporary leagues club. That’s not up to scratch right now.
    It says the NRL would like to find a weakness in one Sydney Club. So they can sell their franchise to another Brisbane, Queensland area.
    They say this may be the excuse they are looking for? As Cronulla may also be looking to get rid of some more players, to be in a better financial position?
    Anyone know more about this & is it true?

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