SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: The Dragons team look dejected after a Bulldogs try during the round 26 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Canterbury Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on September 3, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

5. Penrith Panthers

Though the Panthers had a good season in 2017, they will be expecting more in the coming season. The team finished on 30 points, with 13 wins and 11 losses, which was enough for them to reach seventh position on the ladder.

There is no doubt that the club was hoping for a better finish as their side featured a mix of exciting young talent and experienced match winners. Penrith’s season was plagued by off-field drama including issues surrounding Bryce Cartwright and Matt Moylan.

Both those players are no longer at the club and instead, James Maloney will feature in the number six jersey. Maloney is an Australian and New South Wales player that has delivered premierships at multiple clubs.

Maloney will no doubt add a lot of experience to the Panthers side, and most likely push them higher up the ladder than last season. His combination with Nathan Cleary could take the team deep into the finals.

4. St George Illawarra Dragons

2017 ended in disappointment for the Dragons, when they failed to qualify for the finals. Their loss to the Bulldogs in round 26 allowed the Cowboys to finish the regular season in eighth position.

The Dragons proved they were a strong side at the start of the season, with a dominant forward pack allowing Gareth Widdop to control games. However, St. George began to slip as the season progressed and threw away their finals opportunity.

The addition of Ben Hunt in 2018 will take pressure off Widdop, while James Graham will add more firepower to the forwards. These new players will likely provide the spark the Dragons need to become a consistent side.

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Anything less than a finals finish would be a huge step backwards for St. George, who have their best squad in many years.

3. North Queensland Cowboys

Despite an excellent run to the grand final in 2017, the Cowboys barely made the finals. Had the Dragons won their round 26 game, North Queensland would not have played a part in the finals series.

Obviously, the Cowboys proved they were a quality side as Jason Taumalolo and Michael Morgan hit superb form. However, their results during the regular season left a lot to be desired.

The 13 wins and 11 losses the Cowboys recorded was enough for them to make the finals, but it is clear that injuries to Jonathan Thurston and Matt Scott seriously hurt the side.

With their captains set to return in 2018 North Queensland will be confident of winning the majority of their games.

Considering that Thurston will not be playing representative football in 2018, the club has lost few regular 2017 players and that the club has acquired Jordan McLean, the Cowboys look set for a big season.

2018 looks a good year for the men from up north, who will be expecting a top four finish and perhaps even their second premiership.

2. Wests Tigers

Ivan Cleary has already made an impact at the Tigers, recruiting strongly in a push to revamp his team. Josh Reynolds, Russell Packer, Ben Matulino, Chris McQueen and more have been brought in to bolster the side.

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After a tough few years, which have included many coaching coaches, the loss of the club captain and young talent like Mitchell Moses, the Tigers look like they are recovering.

Though it will be a challenge for the Tigers to make the finals, they will at the very least be a competitive and challenging team to beat.

Should players like Reynolds and Luke Brooks fire, the team could even be a chance to play in the finals.

1.Newcastle Knights

2018 looks to the season the Newcastle Knights shake the wooden spoon. The club and its fans have endured years of hardship since Wayne Bennett left but look as though they are finally recovering.

Nathan Brown has spent time building young players up and has now added recruited many excellent players to his roster.

The likes of Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, Aiden Guerra and Connor Watson are just a few of the players that will turn out for the Knights in 2018. These recruits have everyone interested to see how Newcastle will perform in the coming season.

One thing that is for certain is that the Knights will no longer be the easy beats of the competition. It is unlikely the team will finish in 16th position, and some Knights fans may feel they have recruited well enough to push for the finals.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Not even a mention of Souths? We bring in 2 of the best Australian and QLD internationals to a side that finished above half of these teams, a great new coach and less structure. Watch them shake the comp up this year

      • All I can think is that GI is one of those internationals considering he wasn’t there for much of last year.

        And come one, we all know Baz is the best coach of all time…..

        In all seriousness though, Souths should definitely show marked improvement on last year. Cook is still improving and is a proven first grade 9, GI and Gagai should provide plenty of trouble for opposition defenders, Sam Burgess is still a world class forward, so long as his focus is on Souths, not sticking up for his brothers (who need to get back to their damaging form too), and Johnston is a try scorer, who should be able to feed off his halves.

        • I like baz, I don’t go on about it though, I like the way the players try hard for him…
          Seibold is a no one until atleast half way through a season, so hard to call a good coach…
          Just think calling Inglis an addition bit strange, all teams get injuries and we’ll lets face it he’ll get more his year.. surges is decent but the rest of the pack are useless except Crichton if he plans on having a go his year, will be bottom 4, and Johnston is a try scoring winger, him at fullback will kill 2 positions for bunnies,

        • Yeah I know, just a cheap dig really. It has been a bit boring around here lately…..

          Everything you said makes sense, both in that comment and the one below, I guess I was just coming from the other angle. If those players mentioned can fire then there is no reason Souths won’t be there come September.

    • Be vewy, vewy, qwiet. Ehmer Fudd is hunting Wabbits and he doesn’t take a prisoner. 😉
      The Bunnies are the dark horses of the competition, just wait and see.

      • Bunnies to come 12th
        Inglis plays 12 games max, Reynolds plays about 16, walker is lost without direction. Johnstone at fullback scores 5 tries all year, surgess breaks down after years of carrying his 2 brothers, George fails at becoming a male model, cook to battle api Koroisau for nsw hooker

        • But in fairness, I think you’ve made some very points Crowy.

          I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gagai wearing the 1 more often than Johnston, and maybe more often than GI.

          I think Cook will be a standout, assuming he is given the opportunity to own the 9, and I think he will, but not SOO yet.

          If the “baggage brothers” can do their jobs, then I think they’ll make the 8, otherwise it’s another “Watership Down” in Bunny town.

        • You might want to change your bait crowy, it seems a bit stale.

          “surgess breaks down after years of carrying his 2 brothers”

          I’ll pay that though. Though nowhere near as much as Manly are paying DCE. Bet THAT wiped the smile off your face. LOL

          The “angry eagle” is squawking with approval, he is still in a cage though sadly, but he got that excited about my DCE put down that I’m afraid I will have to change the newspaper! Bahahahahahahahaha

        • “The “angry eagle” is squawking with approval, he is still in a cage though”.

          Le me guess; he was caught with an expensive hooker and/or cutlery theft, because I’m missing my 13 SPOONS.

        • Sstid but do we really no how much manly are actually paying dce?? I mean with all the rorting going on we probably paying him closer to 2 mil really, worth every penny too 🤔😜
          Yes unfortunately manly prob will be just missing the 8 this year, walker out for 4/5 weeks then got to build confidence back he won’t be his best until mid season at best, and he’s a massive loss..
          Still think we cover eels rabbits and knights though…
          Not sold ok carney though, would prefer giving Hastings or Croker a shot and just have carney as back up if needed

  2. Titans, Souths and Canberra will improve a lot as will dogs. Manly, Cronulla, Broncos to go backwards, Roosters will choke as usual. Warriors for spoon!

    • He would have to be under the pump this year, it will come down to the origin period and Mary’s go forward to change up the attitude when the chips are down.
      We beat the pennies / manly twice in regular season and both those teams played more consistent footy to make the 8. As soon as Mary re-signed we collapsed in the 2nd half of the season so it better be good year.

      • My beef is that when it all started turning pear shape half way through the season there was no plan B. As all the other teams worked out where Saints were going really well & thus nullifying them, he did not have the ability to adapt.

        Throwing Matt Dufty in was forced on him due to Dugan’s injuries & dummy spit after Origin. If not for Dugan’s meltdown Dufty would still be in Reserves.

        Also look at Jai Field – McGregor treated him with absolute disdain at the beginning of the season then shuffled him off to Reserves & persisted with McCrone for the entire year.

        Or how about in 2016 – giving Benji a Send Off game, despite his woeful form all year & a young Drew Hutchison champing to prove himself in First Grade. I could go on….

  3. Dragons were great till widdop got inj on anzac day .
    After that we werent the same.
    Souths only beat Newcastle and tigers home .

    • Just to keep you up-to-date, Souths finished 12th beating Warriors, West Tigers, Titans and Knights home. If you look at the table realistically, most teams are likely to improve.

      Every supporter on this site are hoping their team improves (except maybe Storm fans), I know I am.

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