David Klemmer Newcastle Knights

The new season is only a few weeks away, and as is invariably the case at this time of year, the fans, tipsters, bookmakers and media all have their own opinions on which teams are going to dominate in the season ahead. Yet even the so-called experts end up with egg on their faces as often as not. Last year, everyone was talking up the Eels and the Cowboys, yet both teams spent most of the season in their own battles at the foot of the table.

This year, there are some teams that everyone expects to do well. The online bookmakers at Unibet Australia have the Roosters as hot favourites at 7/2 for Grand Final winner, while the Rabbitohs, Storm and Panthers are around the 8/1 and 10/1 mark. But while there are some teams that promise much only to falter, there are others who play well beyond all expectations. Who might be the surprise package for 2019?

Newcastle Knights

Here’s a team that slipped below the radar to perform solidly in 2018. Eleventh might not look spectacular, but it was better than most were predicting and they were serious challengers for the majority of the season. Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce were two names who stood out in particular.

The team has made steady progress since the dark days of 2014 and there is every reason to expect them to continue their improvement in 2019, particularly with the addition of David Klemmer from New South Wales. Don’t be surprised to see the Knights mixing it at the very highest level in the season ahead. Bookies have them at 4/1 for a top four finish.

Canberra Raiders

Here’s a team that is almost the diametric opposite of the Knights. On paper, the Raiders should be a match for everyone, but we all know what happened last year. Given their bottom-half finish to the 2018 season, nobody is talking them up this year, but that could work to their advantage.

The problem the Raiders always have is their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Last year, they lost the first three games of the season by two points or fewer, and in both games against the Panthers, they had double-digit leads but somehow managed to come out on the losing side. You get the feeling that all they need is a little less expectation and a little more self belief and everything could snap into place.

New Zealand Warriors

The most frustrating team in the NRL will return to confound us all again in 2019. They might have made the finals for the first time last year, but it all went downhill from there, and their post-season performance was little short of embarrassing. Changes in personnel during the off season, with the departures of Shaun Johnson and Mason Lino have got the tipsters writing the Warriors off before the season even begins.

That could be a mistake, as there is depth of talent within the squad to beat anyone. The real question is whether the coaching staff can draw it all together into a competitive unit.


  1. Although Klemmer is an excellent addition I am not convinced that the Knights will make the top 8 let alone mount a serious challenge.

    Everything will have to go right for any of these teams to make the 8 and none are genuine challengers.

  2. My dark horses for 2019 is Townsville Cowboys and Newcastle Knights. both will make the eight but who misses out from last seasons top eight❓❓❓❓❓ Warriors for sure, with Bennett being judge by most on past glories, I tend to go the other way and think he has gone past his use by date by 4 or 5 years. Brisbanes 5/8, fullback and both wingers he coached last season are much better than he has at Souffths. I’m thinking Souffths just may struggle and miss the eight. 💪🐔👍

  3. See that’s just it, he won’t be. Let me ask you this, before he passed away…lets say Reg Gasnier was your coach and was in the same situation as Ricky is in now. Would the Saints sack Reg if the Saints didn’t perform again? No I don’t think they would purely because he’s a Saints legend. Well same goes for Sticky, he’s our favourite son, our golden child at the Raiders and we won’t toss to him the wolves very easily. I think we would have to get the spoon before it would even be considered…

  4. And to add to that, what Sticky does for the Canberra community is nearly far and beyond any other coach in the NRL. You won’t understand because your not a Canberra supporter. But Sticky won’t be sacked, if anything, he will realise that the Raiders are not improving and step down himself.

  5. Gday greenblooded. I can understand exactly what you are saying. At the dragons we have a Steelers legend in charge and seemingly untouchable with the board.

    We also have a Dragons legend in C Young with his finger in the pie constantly since he retired in 1988.

    The board look after their own interests or that of their fathers from many years ago….

    Isn’t it funny that Bennett comes along ( outsider with no ties ), takes no $hit from the board or Young, punts Mary 1st up from the coaching staff, then proceeds to kill it for 3 years winning silverware every season.

    He leaves and we were butt ordinary for at least 5 years and Mary worms his way back in to the organisation like pre 2009 😩😩😩

Comments are closed.