MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 02: Cameron Smith of the Storm arrives with the NRL premiership trophy during the Melbourne Storm NRL Grand Final celebrations at Federation Square on October 2, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The 2018 NRL season is rapidly approaching and though plenty can change between now and the start of the season there are already premiership favourites emerging. Three teams stand ahead of the rest of the pack heading into the new season.

These teams are the 2017 grand finalists, the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys, as well as the Sydney Roosters.

Each of these teams has won premierships in recent years and have extensive finals experience. There is also an abundance of powerful forwards and explosive backs in each of these teams which means they are always a challenge to beat.

The Melbourne Storm boasts an incredible modern record and is always a contender for the premiership. It would surprise few people if the Storm had another stellar season, despite the loss of Cooper Cronk and other key players such as Tohu Harris and Jordan McLean.

With the likes of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cameron Munster and Jesse Bromwich all playing in 2018 the Storm will continue to be one of the toughest teams to defeat. Craig Bellamy has proven time after time that his side is never to be underestimated or written off.

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However, there is no doubt that Cooper Cronk was incredibly important to the Storm. This means that the team will have to adjust to playing without him fast, or risk being outclassed by fellow competition heavyweights.

Unlike the Storm, the North Queensland Cowboys have not lost key personnel, and therefore seem as though they can only get better in 2018. They will welcome Jonathan Thurston and Matt Scott back into the team and will add Jordan McLean to a team that continues to look more deadly.

In 2017 Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo led the team on an inspired run to the grand final, a result which few predicted. With huge players returning to the side it is clear the Cowboys will be difficult to beat.

The Sydney Roosters are another team that will be tough to beat, due to their excellent recruiting which has added serious firepower to an already strong team.

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Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco will ensure the Roosters go up a level in 2018. The spine of Tedesco, Cronk, Luke Keary and Jake Friend is dynamic and dangerous, and the team will be hoping they deliver results.

The test for the Sydney Roosters will be if they can overcome their extensive losses. While Cronk and Tedesco are massive gains, the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Aiden Guerra, Connor Watson and Michael Gordon are just a number of strong players that have moved on from the Roosters.

The depth of their squad will be tested and the team’s season relies on them covering losses via injury or suspension.

There is no doubt these teams are major contenders for the premiership, but whether they can go all the way remains to be seen. The Storm, Cowboys and Roosters will be the favourites but the NRL often delivers the unexpected.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Roosters…without a doubt, unless injury strikes them hard they shouldn’t really lose a game. If they don’t win a premiership with this a team like that in the next 2 years they will have failed miserably. All the pressure is on them now….

  2. Chooks and Melbourne favourites
    Parra and Cows in the 4
    Manly, Tigers and Titans to fight out the spoon.

    • I can’t believe you said manly are wooden spooners, you are a joke. Manly have one of the best spines in the comp even with a young Croker at 6 and have a forward pack that one there day can run over any team in the comp. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE TRBOJEVIC BROTHERS. Certain top 8 and will push for top 4

      • I got a feeling this might be manlys year for the spoon.
        They should be docked 12 points for starters.
        Titans and Tigers will not be wooden spooners.. i take that back and i reckon they will both surprise this year.

        • Manly should be pushing top 8, and should end up no where near the spoon (as much as I would like to see that happen). I don’t agree that they have one of the best spines in the comp though (yet). That statement can’t be made until Croker proves himself at 6 at NRL level.

          As for the 12 points deduction, that shouldn’t and won’t happen. I get you are comparing it to the punishment that Parra got, but that isn’t comparing apples with apples. Parra’s rorting was a lot worse in regard to $ value and a clear attempt to consciously go around the cap, they even had documentation confirming this. You can’t simply say that because one team was given 12 points another should. Each case must be viewed on its own merits and punishment must be handed out according to that.

  3. Melbourne will not make the top four and the Cowboys will be pushing hard for a top four spot but I think they are both in for a difficult year being grand finalist and every team testing themselves and using those two sides as a gauge. They will both be bashed around come the semis. I will predict both in the eight but no fairy tale entry into the grand final for either side this year.
    Sydney Roosters vs Parramatta grand final in 2018. these were also the two teams that gave Melbourne a run for their money last season and both clubs have strengthened in the off season.

    • Woodchook,

      You normally are fairly measured in your comments, but to say the Cowboys will struggle for a top 4 berth is not reading the game to well. i know you said that teams will be after them, but i feel they will more than handle the pressure, they are the team to beat, it is in fact Easts who will be under the most pressure after the high profile signings they have made.

      Being favourites with the bookies is not being under the radar, and truth be known Tedesco is a injury liability and always has been, Cronk is still to be tested without the Storm and QLD SOO structure, to be honest i don’t rate him that highly, he has no speed , throws more forward passes that is acceptable, plus his kicking game is not up there with the best , we shall see what direction he brings.

      To me Cowboys v Parra in the grand final with Easts making 6th or 7th spot at best

      • “You normally are fairly measured in your comments”

        How DO you measure a WoodChook penso? With a crowtractor?

        It would take a brave man or someone with a crystal ball to rule BOTH the Storm AND the Cowboys out of the top 4 in 2018 at this point. Perhaps WoodChook got his hands on one of shadows crystal balls? It probably explains the ease with which Foghorn Leghorn could catch up to him as well. It’s hard to move fast when you are running with a pair of crystal balls in hand. Right shadow?

        Hey shadow, since you have all the answers perhaps you can answer this one?

        “How much wood could a WoodChook chuck if a WoodChook could chuck wood?”

        • It depends if the chook ate wood mixed in with the chicken feed, If this wood was treated pine it would make any chook vomit. So if the Cook ate lots previously to eating a bad mix of food contaminated with treated pine. Then I would say there wood be chook chuck right along the side fence that is adjacent to the garage, then onwards to the front fence of the chook pen heading further to the gate eventually heading inwards towards the laying area.

  4. I think this will be a big year for the Bulldogs, Storm and Roosters – with the Broncos and Cowboys coming close.

    • The Bulldogs!!! ???? You and Westie4Life seem to be breathing in the same smoke and it isn’t tobacco. Prepare yourself but I honestly can’t see the Dogs making the top 8 in 2018 so if a big year is finishing in the top 10, then they still might fall short.

      Dogs fans feel free of course to repost this and put egg all over my face if I am wrong by years end.

    • W4L you really shouldnt wear flanelette shirts with uhg boots in this type of heat,plays with you head.Put down the VB longgie and have a big glass of water and lay down for a while…..Than you may reflect on your comment an see how silly it was,Parra and Riff ,was funny

    • You really are a “RADICAL RABBIT” shadow. You say that with such certainty as if you were some “doyen” of the game. You are oracular in a “Rain Man” kind of way I suppose but currently, the premiership tally stands at “Rabbits 21”.

      With all your negativity though you are not really a good “southsport”… a good sport, Souths shadow. Have you heard anything about “S J” coming to Souths? The Warriors are not doing it for him I hear and from what I have heard he already has a foot in the Dragons camp. Look into your crystal ball and try to decipher the following code” “callmack1”

      I look forward to your interpretation of this post oh oracular one! LOL

  5. Melbourne obviously. I really fail to see how Tedesco will help take them up a level when he has never played a finals match and went missing in the Origin decider last year? The roosters are weaker than most think. their 1-5 isnt even close to the likes of Melbourne, Broncos and Souths. The forward pack is thin as on depth, a bench of 1 front rower, 1 backrower and 2 utilities doesnt cut it either. Who covers Tedesco at fullback if he goes down? Mitchell who hasnt trained there for 2 pre-seasons now or Fergo? Yea na they are in for a big shock

    • Prisoner! you’ve been locked away to long in the big house mate. See if you can trade your portable black & white TV with rabbit ears for a wide screen colour. You might just see what’s going on in the real world

      You need to behave Prisoner and they may let you out early from Pentridge Prison. That’s where you are isn’t it? In Melbourne? Anyway don’t count on anything special from the Storm. They don’t have a halfback. No body to guide them around the park mate.

      I will let you in on a little secret that happened in Sydney two years ago whilst your holidaying in your green outfit. The Roosters lost their half for the first 9 weeks in 2016, after the halfway point of the season they were goners. Melbourne have lost their half for the year. They will be lucky to make the eight in 2018.

      Regardless of what people imagine Cronk was the orchestrator of their team not Smith. It is Cronk who orginisers the attack not a bloke from dummy half picking up a ball from off the ground. Any person who thinks Hookers run the show and not halfbacks are dreamers. If Tedescko in your eyes can not lift the Roosters because of his lack of semi experience, then in your opinion using that as the scale. Melbourne with a rookie half with 5 games of first grade have no hope.

  6. W4L you really shouldnt wear flanelette shirts with uhg boots in this type of heat,plays with you head.Put down the VB longgie and have a big glass of water and lay down for a while…..Than you may reflect on your comment an see how silly it was,Parra and Riff ,was funny

  7. Hey ParraMatt, who are u to judge and criticize other supporters opinions…..
    wat bcoz Parra had one good season last year you think u have the right to shut down other people’s opinions??? Before last year you guys hadn’t had a good season since 09!!!
    Yes I know I said Panthers and PARRA gf…. but that’s bcoz on paper you guys should have the team to get to the grand final….. I emphasize the word SHOULD……. bcoz we all know recent history of Parra making grand finals let alone winning them are not that great.
    So think twice before criticizing someone’s opinion.

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