BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 30: Alex Glenn of the Broncos celebrates the win during the round 24 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium on August 30, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Former Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has deliver one of the more surprising top-eight predictions for the 2021 season, with last year’s wooden spooners Brisbane set to creep into finals qualification.

Despite a horrid campaign both on and off the field, Flanagan has tipped the men from Red Hill to vastly improve on their 2020 campaign with a return to finals under new coach Kevin Walters.

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Flanagan also believes Manly will return to the top-eight this year, claiming a respectable sixth-placed finish thanks to the highly-anticipated return of Origin star Tom Trbojevic.

The Cronulla premiership coach has tipped Melbourne for the minor premiership, just ahead of fellow 2020 grand finalists Penrith, with the Roosters, Rabbitohs, Raiders and Sharks rounding out the remainder of the top-eight.

“I’m really comfortable with the top five, the top five is basically the same as last year,” Flanagan told Matt White on 1170 SEN.

“The Storm and the Panthers will definitely be up there, the Storm will definitely be up there, they will finish top four and the Panthers will be around their mark.

“The Roosters and Canberra will also be there, they round out my top four and the Bunnies round out my top five, I think you can say they’ll be pretty close to those four teams.

“I have a sneaking suspicion Manly are going to do something this year,” he added.

“Des (Hasler) has been really quiet and I know Tommy (Trbojevic) is coming back … they’re going to be hard to beat.

“And I think the Sharks and the Broncos will be fighting out for the seventh and eighth spots.”

Flanagan’s prediction suggests a shock drop for Parramatta, who finished third on the ladder last season, with Newcastle set to join them in missing the top half of the competition.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 14: Ryan Matterson of the Eels looks dejected following the round 14 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Bankwest Stadium on August 14, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Titans have been heavily backed by many to reach the top-eight this year after an impressive off-season of recruiting.

Shane Flanagan’s top eight for 2021:

  1. Melbourne Storm
  2. Penrith Panthers
  3. Sydney Roosters
  4. Canberra Raiders
  5. South Sydney Rabbitohs
  6. Manly Sea Eagles
  7. Cronulla Sharks
  8. Brisbane Broncos


  1. Not sure that about all of that?
    You could probably bet on the Storm, Roosters, Raiders, Rabbits. Being in the top 8. Maybe Penrith making the 8.
    However, it’s a new year & anyone can make the 8 , or miss it.
    Where’s the Titans? Finished last year well & bought very well.
    No Parramatta? Mreel would be thrilled with that! Maybe Flanagan would love that to happen, so he can take over as head coach at Parramatta ?