NRL 16 club season preview

HOW YOUR TEAM LOOKS HEADED INTO THE NRL SEASON

BRISBANE

With virtually same side intact, Wayne Bennett will fancy his chances of going one better in 2016 and ending the Broncos’ longest title drought of 10 seasons.

Key in: James Roberts.

Key outs: Justin Hodges, Mitchell Dodds, Mitch Garbutt.

Predicted finish: 2nd

CANBERRA:

The Raiders are one of many mid-table sides spruiking recruitment and internal development as a reason to climb into the finals. Only so many can break into the eight though, and Canberra’s growing squad might still be another year away.

Key ins: Aidan Sezer, Elliot Whitehead.

Key outs: David Shillington, Dane Tilse, Mitch Cornish.

Predicted finish: 13th

CANTERBURY:

Des Hasler hasn’t missed the finals since 2004, but this season could present his toughest challenge yet. Trent Hodkinson’s talk and direction at halfback may be too hard to replace.

Key in: Will Hopoate.

Key outs: Trent Hodkinson, Tim Lafai.

Predicted finish: 10th

CRONULLA

With Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Michael Ennis and Chris Heighington all ageing, the premiership window appears to be closing for Shane Flanagan’s men. This could be their last chance with a slightly revamped squad.

Key ins: James Maloney, Chad Townsend, Jesse Sene-Lefao.

Key outs: Michael Gordon, Jeff Robson, Anthony Tupou.

Predicted finish: 6th

GOLD COAST

A new era begins after Neil Henry has made a concerted effort to begin a cleanout of the club. Success isn’t created overnight though and it’s likely to take a Titans side that lacks experience in the halves a little longer yet.

Key ins: Nathan Friend, Chris McQueen, Tyrone Roberts, David Shillington, Ash Taylor.

Key outs: Nate Myles, James Roberts, Aidan Sezer, Dave Taylor, Kevin Gordon.

Predicted finish: 15th

MANLY

Just five members of their 2011 premiership side remain, meaning it will be an almost unrecognisable Sea Eagles side that runs out for round one. But the strength of their forward recruits should return them to familiar form.

Key ins: Nate Myles, Martin Taupau, Dylan Walker, Lewis Brown, Apisai Koroisau, Darcy Lussick, Matt Parcell.

Key outs: Kieran Foran, Matt Ballin, Clinton Gutherson, James Hasson, Peta Hiku, Justin Horo, Dunamis Lui, Willie Mason, Jesse Sene-Lefao, David Williams.

Predicted finish: 4th

MELBOURNE

It’s the same story as always for Melbourne in 2016 – Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater are ageing but should still produce the goods. Away from the big three, Will Chambers and Jesse Bromwich now boast the representative experience required to take them into the next era.

Key ins: Nil.

Key outs: Matt Duffie, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Kurt Mann, Dayne Weston.

Predicted finish: 5th

NEWCASTLE

Since Nathan Brown last coached in the NRL he’s spent six years in the English Super League and won a title with St Helens. May have his work cut out with this inexperienced Newcastle squad.

Key ins: Trent Hodkinson, Micky Paea.

Key outs: Kurt Gidley, Tyrone Roberts, Beau Scott, Chris Houston.

Predicted finish: 14th

NORTH QUEENSLAND

With all members of their grand final winning squad still available, no side has been better placed for an assault on back-to-back premierships since Brisbane in 1992-93. Still, a lot relies on the fitness of Johnathan Thurston.

Key ins: Nil.

Key outs: Glenn Hall, Robert Lui.

Predicted finish: 1st

PARRAMATTA

With arguably their best squad since 2001, it could be a case of boom or bust for Brad Arthur in 2016. The prospect of watching Kieran Foran, Michael Jennings and Semi Radradra combine on the left edge should whet the appetite of any Eels fan.

Key ins: Kieran Foran, Michael Gordon, Michael Jennings, Beau Scott, Clinton Gutherson.

Key outs: William Hopoate, Richie Fa’aoso, Darcy Lussick, Reece Robinson, Pauli Pauli, Joesph Paulo, Chris Sandow.

Predicted finish: 9th

PENRITH

Should move up the ladder if injuries are kind to them. Based on the past two years though, that is a big `if’. Matt Moylan is already in doubt for the first month with a back injury, while halfback Peter Wallace has spent more time off the field than on it in recent years.

Key ins: Trent Merrin, Peta Hiku, Te Maire Martin, Suaia Matagi.

Key outs: Lewis Brown, Jamal Idris, Apisai Korisau, Sika Manu, Nigel Plum, David Simmons.

Predicted finish: 12th

SOUTH SYDNEY

Appeared to slide at the end of last season but Sam Burgess could be the perfect man to restore the winning culture. Have a genuine lack of depth in the centres, but given the attacking prowess of Greg Inglis on the edges, they should still make the eight.

Key ins: Sam Burgess, Damien Cook.

Key outs: Issac Luke. Chris McQueen, Dylan Walker, Tim Grant.

Predicted finish: 7th

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA

Will be out to show the start of last season was no fluke. Points have always been their problem but even with Josh Dugan and Tim Lafai in the centres, it’s hard to see too much changing in attack.

Key ins: Russell Packer, Tim Lafai, Dunamis Lui, Kurt Mann.

Key outs: Trent Merrin, Eto Nabuli, Craig Garvey.

Predicted finish: 11th

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

Trent Robinson’s men have gone to hell and back in the pre-season, and could have a lot of work to do when Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner (pectoral) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (knee) all return. Their early-season form will depend largely on how Jayden Nikorima adjusts to life in the halves in the NRL.

Key ins: Dale Copley, Jayden Nikorima.

Key outs: Michael Jennings, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney.

Predicted finish: 8th

WARRIORS

The Warriors have the best roster in the club’s history, but turning potential into results has been a perennial problem since they were first admitted in 1995. The go-forward created by Issac Luke out of dummy-half could be dynamite for a halfback like Shaun Johnson to run on to.

Key ins: Issac Luke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jeff Robson.

Key outs: Sam Tomkins, Nathan Friend, Sam Rapira, Chad Townsend, Sebastine Ikahihifo.

Predicted finish: 3rd

WESTS TIGERS

Survival could be the name of the game for Jason Taylor in the eye of the Tigers’ board, with an inexperienced roster and early injuries now dashing realistic hopes. A lot of pressure will also be on Aaron Woods and Tim Grant the lack of depth in their forward pack.

Key ins: Matt Ballin, Tim Grant, Joel Edwards, Jack Littlejohn.

Key outs: Keith Galloway, Matthew Lodge, Martin Taupau, Pat Richards.

Predicted finish: 16th

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