With under a week to go until the NRL kicks off, we lay down an extended preview for each club. Below is a look at the back to back premiers, the Roosters.
Ins: Kyle Flanagan (Sharks)
The tricolours created history in 2019 by defending their title with a brilliant win over the Raiders on the final day of the season.
James Tedesco rose to become the best player in the game, while Cooper Cronk delivered his second title across two seasons in Bondi.
Luke Keary has become one of the game’s elite playmakers and will take over the side moving forward. The Roosters forward pack also dominated all in front of them.
Simply put, they well and truly deserved their second straight Premiership trophy.
Predicted Best Player: Luke Keary
With the retirement of Cooper Cronk, Luke Keary becomes THE man in red, white and blue. Of course he has a fair supporting cast in Tedesco, Manu and co. but the superstar number six has it all in front of him in 2020.
After finally committing to the Blues, he’s at very short odds to make his Origin debut if his form continues in the early part of the upcoming season.
Although he no longer has the game’s premier number seven guiding the side, Keary has emerged to the point where he could very well become the “next” Cronk, as much as I hate those comparisons.
I’m very excited to see what the 28 year-old pivot can produce in 2020.
Predicted Top Scorer: Daniel Tupou
There were ridiculous rumours that Daniel Tupou was on the out in early 2019. He responded with a rep quality season and was arguably the best winger in the competition.
I would be shocked if Keary and young Flanagan haven’t spent the season kicking to their wings, with the 6 foot 5 aerial specialist possibly the game’s best target.
Tupou will score a mountain of tries despite losing his left-side centre partner. Truthfully it doesn’t overly matter who plays centre inside him as he’ll so many opportunities regardless.
Tupou is in my top three try scorers this year and I expect him to be pushing 20 for the season.
The Roosters have only recruited the one player in the form of rookie halfback Kyle Flanagan. It’s safe to say though it this recruitment decision is a very big and important one.
Young Flanno had a brilliant debut for the Chooks in the World Club Challenge, with multiple try assists.
He stood in well for the Sharks when called upon and despite a brainsnap that would cost the Sharks a game, Flanagan has a monster future ahead of him.
No one can step into the jersey of Cooper Cronk, as Queensland have seen, but young Flanagan looks the perfect partner for Luke Keary.
2020 Final Position: 5th
This is arguably the most controversial of all of the season previews as the majority of fans and pundits alike have the Roosters remaining in the top few, but I just can’t see it.
Cooper Cronk is a monster loss and it’s worth remembering that Latrell Mitchell literally won games off his own back in 2019. He is a massive loss and cannot be replaced.
That said the Roosters have been able to retain the large majority of their all conquering side and will be there or there-abouts again this season.
I fully expect the Roosters to pants me here and finish in the top two or three but money on the line I’m predicting a slight slip from the premiers.
They’ll still comfortably play finals footy and are right in the running for a third straight title but across the regular season Cronk and Mitchell are massive losses.
The forward pack won’t lose many battles, Tedesco and Manu are the two best players in their position, while Luke Keary is a top five player in the competition.
Those hoping for an immediate fall away from the Roosters won’t be too happy in 2020.