Santa Claus is set to slide down many a chimney tonight to deliver gifts to the world, and it had us wondering, what does YOUR team want for Christmas this year?
Melbourne Storm – A Fit Billy Slater
Melbourne fell agonisingly short of the premiership in 2016, so a return from a club legend in Billy Slater will have Storm fans hoping they can go one step further in 2017. With Blake Green departing for Manly and Cameron Munster shifting to five-eighth, fans of the Melbourne will eagerly watch their side next year.
Canberra Raiders – A Well Behaved Dave Taylor
News emerged last week that Canberra have invited hulking former Maroon forward Dave Taylor back after the Christmas break, and while the team already has a stack of x-factor, Taylor can bring that to another level when fit. The Raiders will be hoping that Taylor can lay off the Christmas Pudding and stay on the nice list in the lead up to 2017.
Cronulla Sharks – James Segeyaro
Following a drought-breaking maiden premiership win this year, the exit of key players Ben Barba and Michael Ennis has left Cronulla looking a little shaky for their title defence. While Valentine Holmes and Jack Bird tussle for the fullback spot, the hooking role is wide open. The return of James Segeyaro to the NRL could bring some much-needed x-factor to the Shire.
North Queensland Cowboys – Some Grunt Up Front
After winning the 2015 premiership, James Tamou and Ben Hannant’s departure leaves a gaping hole in North Queensland’s forward pack. The Cowboys will be hoping young forwards Patrick Kaufusi and Ben Spina can step up in 2017 and see the boys from Townsville remain in premiership contention.
Brisbane Broncos – A Captain
Corey Parker’s retirement leaves Brisbane uncertain who will lead them out of the tunnel in 2017. A few names have been tossed up for consideration with Sam Thaiday, Ben Hunt, Adam Blair and Andrew McCullough all being mentioned. But it’s international custodian Darius Boyd that leads the race. No matter who Bennett chooses to lead the side, Brisbane will be hoping it’s the right call as the Broncos look to return to glory next season
Penrith Panthers – Some Good Luck
Gus Gould will be anxiously praying his side doesn’t endure another injury ravaged season, so hopefully Santa Claus can deliver some good luck at the foot of the mountains. If Penrith are to push for the premiership next season, they’ll need names like Moylan, Cleary, Martin, Cartwright and Merrin on the park to do it. Fingers crossed.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs – Some Organisation
Both Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye are great players, but as a combination, they raise some question marks. Both play off-the-cuff styles of play but lack organisation when it comes to attack. The heavy reliance on forwards to do a lot of play-making hinders the side when it comes to point scoring, so a bit more organisation in the halves could see the Bulldogs make a big step towards featuring on the first weekend of October.
Gold Coast Titans – Jarryd Hayne Returning to Form
He played five games at the backend of 2016 following his double cross-code switch, and with a full pre-season under his belt, Titan’s fans will be eager to see the Hayne Plane take off in 2017. Buoyed by the recent birth of his daughter, Hayne will be looking to show he isn’t a spent force in the NRL in 2017 as he looks to lead the Gold Coast to back-to-back finals appearances.
Wests Tigers – James Tedesco Signing A Contract Extension
The Tigers have a stack of talent coming off-contract, with the club’s ‘big four’ in James Tedesco, Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks and Aaron Woods all without a deal for 2018. Tedesco is by far the most important member of that squad, so it doesn’t surprise that coach Jason Taylor would be hoping for a contract signed by the State of Origin fullback in his stocking,
New Zealand Warriors – Kieran Foran
Foran looks set to put the tumultuous season behind him as he looks set to start anew in New Zealand next season. Or does he? A little assurance would be nice for the Warriors, with Foran yet to 100% commit to the club ahead of next season. While chief executive Jim Doyle is confident Foran will turn out for the black and white in 2017, confirmation from the man himself is what the team really wants.
St George Illawarra Dragons – A Halfback
This isn’t just on the Dragons wishlist, this is a need for Red V. Following the departure of Benji Marshall, St George Illawarra rested their hopes on the shoulders of Wollongong junior Drew Hutchison. But a tear to his ACL ending his season before it began has thrown the team into turmoil, as the club looks to band-aid their attack, the second worst in the competition in 2016. The team has refused to sign ‘bad boys’ Todd Carney and Chris Sandow, and with Jackson Hastings signing with Manly yesterday, the Dragons will look within their own ranks to fix this problem.
South Sydney Rabbitohs – Harmony
Twelve months ago rumours circulated over player unrest, Michael Maguire ‘losing the dressing room’ and star players were supposedly looking for a way out. Luke Keary’s stoush with Russell Crowe at his Coffs Harbour property brought this all to the head, and a 12th placed finish in 2016 has fans doubting the playing group. Add Robbie Farah into the mix and it’s a toxic cocktail. But word out of Redfern is that it’s been a very low key pre-season compared to last year’s, so maybe a bit of Harmony from Santa’s sack could see the team return to the finals next year.
Manly Sea Eagles – Cherry-Evans Firing
Since becoming the NRL’s ‘ten-million-dollar man’, Cherry-Evans hasn’t exactly been at the top of his game. His club has finished 9th and 13th over the last two years, and on a personal level, ‘DCE’ lost his spot in rep sides to Michael Morgan. The signing of Blake Green should aid Cherry-Evans, with a return to form for Daly likely to see Manly lift a great deal.
Parramatta Eels – Amnesia
It’s a bit of an odd present for Santa to give, but it’s one surely needed in Syndey’s west. A turbulent season saw Parramatta lose 12 competition points, lose star players Junior Paulo, Nathan Peats and Kieran Foran mid-season, while several off-field incidents saw five-eighth Corey Norman spend the final seven weeks of the season on the sidelines. A strong recruitment drive and a little bit of amnesia should the Eels finish a lot higher than 14th next year.
Sydney Roosters – Keary and Pearce to Fire
After three straight minor premierships, the Roosters had a big fall in 2016, finishing 15th. While controversy around former captain Mitchell Pearce affected the side, it was the constant chopping and changing of combinations that had a massive toll on the side this year. Going through seven different halves combinations, the lack of consistency in the picking of the side had a big effect on the club. But with the signing of Luke Keary to partner Mitchell Pearce, the boys from Bondi will be hopeful that these two can gel and lead the tricolours back to the big stage.
Newcastle Knights – Kalyn Ponga
Newcastle made a major advancement in the future of the club by securing the hottest young talent in the game, Kalyn Ponga, to join the club. Problem is, it’s for the 2018 season. Despite Ponga’s requests for a release from Townsville a year early, Cowboy’s coach Paul Green has firmly denied it, meaning Newcastle aren’t very likely to get their gift early this year. But hey, maybe Santa has a few spare wooden spoons in his sack?
Hopefully, you and your club get what you’d like from Santa this year, whether you’ve been naughty or nice. Merry Christmas!