Following on from Part 1 of our look at what your team is asking for this Christmas, we now look at what the remaining eight sides are hoping to find under the tree this festive season.
Chris McQueen has left the club signing with the Titans, while Dylan Walker has driven over the bridge to sign with the Sea Eagles. Rumours suggested that Adam Reynolds is keen to exit the club to take up a huge money offer on the Gold Coast, while Tom Burgess has been on trials with numerous NFL sides. Greg Inglis is linked with the Broncos and was forced to deny growing rumours that he too wants out. The Bunnies just need their squad to stay put as Sam Burgess, as good as he is, cannot do it all himself. They’ve lost plenty to accommodate Burgess, however given the effect the big Englishman on the Bunnies during his previous stint, you can’t blame them at all.
Panthers: A Time Machine
Recently we’ve heard that the much maligned “five-year plan” has now become an eight year plan. Although most of the talk of that is in the media and not the Panthers boardroom, they’re probably not in a position to win the premiership in 2016. Looking at their squad, there is SO much potential. Peachey and Cartwright are two of the most exciting forwards in the game, while Matt Moylan is a future superstar. Fans will have to be patient as these players continue to develop, but in a few years’ time, they could be very, very special players.
Dragons: Attracting Cologne
The Dragons enter 2016 in a far better position than they did 2015 due to a brilliant season on field that proved a fair few people wrong. They do look a strike weapon short out wide but with reports they are very much in the race to sign either or both of James Roberts and/or Jack Bird, they need to pull out the stops to get those deals over the line. It looks like it has come down to Bird’s current side the Sharks and his junior side the Dragons as to where the Dally M rookie of the year will play in 2017 and beyond. If the Dragons can sign their former youngster, they look a far more dangerous side.
Roosters: Spine Realignment Therapy
After losing RTS and James Maloney, the Roosters have lost half of their all-conquering “spine”. Blake Ferguson and Jackson Hastings are two pretty handy replacements but this is the first time the Roosters have had to face these circumstances in many years. Mitch Pearce and Jake Friend are two very experienced campaigners and there are plenty of talented players to help Ferguson and Hastings relax into their new roles, but the pressure will be on. Given the performance of Hastings while Pearce was out, I have no doubt he will be a star in the halves, however Blake Ferguson has one hell of an act to follow.
Tigers: Team Bonding Strategies
The Tigers players and officials HAVE to get on the same page quickly or they can kiss goodbye to their 2016 before it even starts. Robbie Farah is going to be at the club next season, this is something Jason Taylor and those in the squad who reportedly wanted to see the back of him, just have to accept and embrace. This Tigers side is brimming with talent, including arguably the best fullback in the competition, but it will all go to waste unless they’re all on the same page and working toward a common goal. That goes for those off-field too. Unfortunately the Tigers board is divided and recent decisions haven’t done away with presumptions that they’re not sure what they’re doing.
Broncos: Amnesia Ray
The key for the Broncos as they head into 2016 is to forget the final few minutes of the 2015 Grand Final. What they produced and achieved up until those final moments, was nothing short of spectacular. Unfortunately the try they conceded in the final play of the 80 minutes was disappointing, as was Hunt’s drop, however it should not define their season. They should enter 2016 confident of going that one step better as, if they are able to sign James Roberts, the side is almost identical to that which came within a field goal of lifting the trophy in 2015. The one possible weakness, a spot vacated by the retiring Justin Hodges, looks like it will be filled with an even fast, more attacking threat.
Raiders: Home Security
The key to the Raiders success has always been their ability to win away from home due to their incredible home form. Last season they recorded only three wins at home, beating only the Panthers, Titans and the Knights at GIO Stadium. They really need to rediscover their home form if they want to feature in the eight. Given the weather can produce some strange conditions unlike that most travelling sides will be used to encountering, Canberra have a real advantage at home. Ricky Stuart’s contract extension will ensure Canberra enjoy a level of consistency they haven’t for a long period of time. Add to that the marquee recruitment of Aidan Sezer and there really are no excuses.
Knights: The Receipt For Their Wooden Spoon
I’m calling it now, the Knights will not collect a second straight wooden spoon. Trent Hodkinson’s signature is a game changer, as is the appointment of Nathan Brown at the Hunter. Stone mismanaged the likes of Mata’utia in 2015 and I doubt Brown will make similar mistakes, which will lead to a much improved season. Whether or not they can challenge for the finals, I’m not sure, but they will improve on their 2015. Jake Mamo looks a real talent, while Mullen finally has a genuinely class halves partner and won’t be looked upon as the main creative spark this season. Up front they have plenty of talent, and size. I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see something very different going forward.