THE BIGGEST ISSUES FOR YOUR NRL CLUB AHEAD OF THE 2016 SEASON:
How will the Broncos, and just as importantly Ben Hunt, bounce back from their heartbreaking grand final loss? Supercoach Wayne Bennett will again be at the helm, so you can’t write them off. But the retired Justin Hodges is a big loss.
Are the Raiders really on the up under club legend Ricky Stuart? Aidan Sezer joins Blake Austin to sharpen up their halves. But Canberra’s defence was the problem this year not their attack. They need to significantly improve their 3-9 home record too, the worst in the NRL.
How important was NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson to the Bulldogs? Two into three was never going to fit and coach Des Hasler opted for Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye as their halves next year. The Dogs rued letting Michael Ennis go this year. It could be deja vu in 2016 with Newcastle-bound Hodkinson.
South Sydney did it in 2014, the Cowboys did it this year, can the Sharks finally break their premiership drought in 2016? Their surge from wooden spoon to the semi-finals this year will give them confidence and with the addition of James Maloney they have the team to do it.
GOLD COAST TITANS
Surely things can only get better for the ailing Titans in 2016? The pre-season cocaine saga ensued 2015 was always going to be a write-off and in truth they did well to avoid the spoon. The emergence of young halves Kane Elgey and Ashley Taylor will be crucial.
MANLY SEA EAGLES
How long before new coach Trent Barrett is under the pump at a club that demands success? The sacking of club legend Geoff Toovey has put a spotlight on rookie Barrett and he will want wins early. Signing Nate Myles gives their pack starch but Kieran Foran is a massive loss.
Are they too old this time? The Storm were written off as out of date this year but deserved their top four finish. Craig Bellamy remains one of the best coaches in the game. But Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk will be a year older and they have no big-name signings.
Is new coach Nathan Brown the man to turn the Knights around? Brown’s record in Super League is impressive but he has the toughest assignment of any coach here. Trent Hodkinson is a great signing for the wooden spooners. If Robbie Farah joins him the Knights can challenge for the finals.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
How can the Cowboys top 2015? That is impossible. The quest for back-to-back titles has been impossible too over the last two decades. That is the Cowboys next challenge and where their hunger will come from when it really matters.
Is Kieran Foran the Eels saviour? The Kiwis playmaker has been hailed as the club’s greatest ever signing and there is no doubt he can steer them back to the finals. Former Raiders half Mitch Cornish could be key alongside Foran for coach Brad Arthur.
Will lighting strike the Panthers three times? Penrith’s heavy injury toll in 2013 was only exceeded by the ridiculous amount of players sidelined in 2014. A lot will be expected of signing Trent Merrin.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Has coach Michael Maguire lost the changeroom? There were rumours of such as Souths endured a forgettable last month of 2015 as Maguire was linked to Newcastle. Greg Inglis battled with injury as their premiership defence perished, again showing how vital he is to the Rabbitohs’ fortunes.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Did the Dragons overachieve in 2015? Paul McGregor put in one of the coaching efforts of the year to steer the Dragons to the finals. The challenge now is to repeat that. Centre Kurt Mann is a good addition but they still look a bottom eight side at best.
Has the Roosters’ premiership window closed? One title to show for three minor premierships is seen as a shortfall by many. How they deal with the loss of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and James Maloney will be key, alongside the continued emergence of Jackson Hastings.
Will the acquisition of Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck turn the enigmatic Warriors into a premiership force? They lost eight straight to end 2015 – with Shaun Johnson out for the final six with injury. But they shouldn’t be a one man band in 2016.
Will Robbie Farah be a part of the Tigers campaign in 2016? The rift between him and coach Jason Taylor appears unresolvable. Farah has indicated he will dig his heels in and fight it out. But Farah is still being linked to Newcastle, that could be a lifeline for him and Taylor.