General Predictions for 2006: All NRL Teams



Warning: Long Post


Gains: Michael Ennis (Dragons), Ben Hannant (Roosters).

Losses: Tom Leahroyd-Lars (Raiders), Darren Mapp (Sharks), Stuart Kelly (retired), Berrick Barnes (Qld Reds Super 14)

Verdict: The question on the lips of all Bronco’s fans is: “Has Wayne Bennett gone stale?â€Â. He sacked the majority of his coaching staff after yet another poor end to the Broncos’ finals campaign in 2005. and until he inspires some fresh ideas at the club, it’s hard to see them going any further than they have in the last 3 seasons.

They pick up Michael Ennis who will interchange with Barry Berrigan in the hooking role, and Ben Hannant from the Roosters. The loss of young Berrick Barnes will be a blow, a promising young player now off to the Queensland Reds in the Super 14 competition and Brisbane will probably fall in the back half of the eight after State of Origin once again. Could they go further if the man at the helm gets a tap on the shoulder?

Predicted finish: 6th


Gains: Daniel Holdsworth (Dragons), Jon Green (Sharks), Nick Kouparitsas (Wests), Billy Ngawini (Norths), Ben Roberts (Wests), Jamie Small (Balmain), Chris Tuatara (Norths), Namila Davui (Norths).

Losses: Braith Anasta (Roosters), Charlie Tonga (Roosters), Trevor Thurling (Raiders), Jamaal Lolesi (Tigers), Filinga Filiga (Tigers), Jamie Frizzo (Cowboys).

Verdict: The loss of NSW pivot Braith Anasta to the Sydney Roosters is obviously the notable omission from the Dogs’ squad for 06’. At full strength, the Bulldogs still have one of the most damaging sides in the competition. Players like O’Meley, Asotasi, Ryan, Mason and Williams in their forward pack illustrates this further. Their main problem in 2006 will be depth, if they can have an injury-free year they may yet again challenge for the title.

Anasta’s replacement will be Daniel Holdsworth, Trent Barrett’s understudy at St George-Illawarra. While he showed promise in his first grade appearances in 2005, consistency is his problem and it may take some work from the Bulldogs’ coaching staff before he forms a combination with Brent Sherwin. Their success this season will come down to two things, how well their halves combination forms, and their injury toll. If both work in their favour, another title could be on the cards but with the lack of depth, they might just fall into the bottom half of the eight. They have bought some promising young players, but realistically they will be more dominant in 2007 than 2006. For now they are going through a brief rebuilding phase.

Predicted finish: 5th


Gains: Ray Cashmere (Tigers), Brett Anderson (Eels), Robert Tanielu (Storm), Leigh Coghill
(Brisbane Easts), Russell Aitken (Sharks), Jamie Frizzo (Bulldogs), Scott Smith (Souths Logan), Mark Henry (central).

Losses: Paul Rauhihi (Warrington), David Myles (Toulouse), Leigh McWilliams (retired), Jaiman Lowe (Rabbitohs), Michael Luck (Warriors).

Verdict: The Cowboys are a side that are improving every year. They will be hoping the sequence continues, Preliminary Finalists (2004), Grand Finalists (2005), Premiers (2006). Who is to say that they won’t go one better? Their only real omission is prop Paul Rauhihi to Warrington, and they have picked up promising youngster Ray Cashmere from the Wests Tigers. Johnathon Thurston proved to be the buy of the year last season, winning the Dally M Medal and in the minds of some, should have taken the Clive Churchill Medal home as well. He was only in the process of forming a combination with mid-season recruit Brett Firman last season, and the side still managed to reach the Grand Final.

One can’t help but think that if that combination were to improve this season, the side would only build on what it achieved in 2005. Graham Murray will coach NSW this year and that could prove to be a slight distraction, but the experience will improve Murray as a coach which will in turn help the Cowboys when they re-assemble at the back end of the season to mount their assault on the premiership. Injury could be a problem from Origin, but being a young side they should get out with minimal damage. If the Cowboys don’t win the competition this season, they will go very close. One thing is for sure, they will be thereabouts at the back end of the year.

Predicted finish: 2nd


Gains: Bryson Goodwin (Sharks), Matt Bickerstaff (Perpignan), Damon Alley-Tovio (Raiders), Sam Isemonger (UK), Lagi Setu (Australian Schoolboys RU), Andrew Price (Knights).

Losses: Lance Thompson (Sharks), Michael Ennis (Broncos), Albert Torrens (Huddersfield), Daniel Holdsworth (Bulldogs), Willie Manu (Castleford), Bryan Norrie, Nick Youngquest (Penrith), Shane Marteene (retired).

Verdict: This season really is the season that everything has to click for the Dragons. Most people thought that 2005 was the year of the Dragon, but with the competition going the way it was, a Dragons premiership would have been a far too predictable ending to such a season.

Nathan Brown is now primed to take his team to a premiership, and last season’s finals experience will only improve him as a coach. It’s a case of now or never for the Dragons in 2006, with 13 players coming off contract at the end of this season. There’s no way possible that they will be able to keep them all, they will do well to keep 10. But in 2006 there isn’t a side with the depth that the Dragons have, and I think that might just get them over the line. Their supporters have very high expectations and will not accept yet another underachieving season. As Gough Whitlam would say, for the Dragons in 2006, “it’s timeâ€Â.

Predicted finish: 1st


Gains: Nil.

Losses: Brett Anderson (Cowboys), Chris Muckert (Toowoomba).

Verdict: The Eels just seem to fall at the final hurdle every year. There wasn’t one pundit willing to tip the Cowboys in last season’s Preliminary Final. The Eels fans thought there was finally an opening and they would break their 19-year drought, but once again they came up embarrassingly short. One problem with the Eels lies at the top of the food chain - Denis Fitzgerald as CEO is a real burden for the club with his constant outlandish comments and bizarre recruitment policies.

They have taken a strange approach with their coaching situation, saying that this will definitely be Brian Smith’s last year, with this sort of attitude from the top it’s hard to see them winning the premiership this season. A better call would have been to sack him now, and throw Jason Taylor into the role for a year before stepping aside to assist Michael Hagan in 2007. Having said all that, the Eels’ playing roster is the same as last season and they should make the top four. With the attitude of their board towards the coaching position, it’s hard to see the players being motivated enough to win the competition. But a proud club with a 59-year history should have motivation enough, even with a 20 year premiership drought hanging over their heads.

Predicted finish: 4th


Gains: Brian Carney (Wigan), Luke Davico (Wigan), Luke Hession (Balmain), Chris Bailey (Northern Blues).

Losses: Mark Hughes (Les Catalans), Dane Tilse (Raiders), Craig Hall (Wakefield), Andrew Price (Dragons), Blake Mueller (released).

Verdict: It’s always hard to tell with the Knights at this time of year when pre-season predictions are made. On one hand, with the great Andrew Johns in their side, they are just about as good a chance as anyone of taking the title. To the contrary, without him they struggle to win a game and are battling to stay off the bottom of the table.

If Johns gets a full season in this year they could challenge, but at 32 with a stack of injuries, it really is hard to see Johns getting through unscathed. He should consider representative retirement to prolong his club career, and should be used sparingly by the Knights. Brian Carney will add some flare to the Knights out wide, but it really all depends on the number 7 in determining their fate.

Predicted finish: 9th


Gains: Bryan Norrie, Nick Youngquest (Dragons), Mark O'Halloran (London), Bob Blair, Matt Bell (Souths Logan), Wayne Bond, Liam Georgetown (Redcliffe), Chris Newton (Canterbury Bulls, NZ)

Losses: Ben Ross (Sharks), Joe Galuvao, Ben Rogers (Souths), Ben Pomeroy (Sharks), Garrett Crossman (Storm), Shannon Donato (retired), Trent Clayton (Toulouse), Paul Franze (London Irish RU)

Verdict: Penrith had a premiership year in 2003 and a very good one in 2004. They went right downhill last year and there was really no excuse from their point of view. Experts predicted the Panthers to feature strongly in the 2005 premiership, but they failed to make the eight in a very disappointing year. A fair few of their stars just haven’t improved at all. Players like Rooney, Lewis, Clinton, Waterhouse have all played State of Origin and/or test matches, but failed to make any sort of improvement in 2005. Add to that the fact that a player that has improved, Ben Ross is off to the Sharks. Combine that with the departure of Joe Galuvao to South Sydney, and Paul Franze to the UK, and the Panthers have a much weaker list in 06’ than they had in 05’.

The current Craig Gower situation won’t help their overall standing either. Perhaps they need to look at getting a new coach in with fresh ideas, it’s nothing personal against John Lang but sometimes a fresh face with different ideas is what the club and most certainly the current group of players need. I didn’t think I’d be saying this two years ago but with the competition so tight, the Panthers may be the cellar-dwellers in 2006.

Predicted finish: 15th


Gains: Joe Galuvao (Penrith), Jaiman Lowe (Cowboys), Stuart Webb (Roosters), Nathan Merritt (Sharks), Ben Rogers (Penrith), Paul Mellor (sharks), Balin Cupples (Burleigh), Jack Rampling (Roosters).

Losses: Ashley Harrison (Roosters), Scott Logan (Wigan), Bryan Fletcher (Wigan), Glen Hall (Roosters), Brett Kearney (Sharks), Garth Wood (retired), Lee Hookey (released).

Verdict: Shaun McRae is a great coach and sets realistic goals for his teams. Unlike Paul Langmack and Craig Coleman, the coaches of Souths since 2002, McRae set the simple goal in his first season of avoiding the wooden spoon. Something which his players achieved.

They pick up Joe Galuvao from Penrith, along with Stuart Webb and Paul Mellor. But they lose some quality with Ashley Harrison and Brian Fletcher leaving the club. While they did improve a great deal in 2005, it is hard to see them improving on their final result due to the big losses of Fletcher and Harrison. They should have enough to avoid the spoon but really that’s as far as they’ll go.

Predicted finish: 14th


Gains: Tom Leahroyd-lars (Broncos), Trevor Thurling (Bulldogs), Dane Tilse (Knights).

Losses: Matt Adamson (retired), Ian Hindmarsh (Les Catalans), Michael Robertson (Sea Eagles), Ben Cross (Storm), Ryan O'Hara (Tigers), Michael Howell (Les Catalans), Damon Alley-Tovio (Dragons).

Verdict: Most are expecting the Raiders to claim the wooden spoon in 2006. I think this is slightly off the mark, Canberra have too much pride and fight in them to win the wooden spoon. Having said that, it’s really quite difficult to find room in the eight for them. Losing players like Adamson, O’Hara and Howell will be big blows, and to be honest, they haven’t picked up anyone of any real quality.

Jason Smith alone could be enough of a reason to say that they will avoid the spoon, he is sheer quality and brilliance. It should be interesting to see how Clinton Schifcofske fares with the captaincy, how he and Smith fare will go a long way towards determining what sort of season they will have. They will probably have enough to avoid the spoon, but nowhere near enough to make the eight.

Predicted finish: 13th


Gains: Ashley Harrison (Souths), Braith Anasta (Bulldogs), John Doyle (out of retirement), Charlie Tonga (Bulldogs), Mitchell Pearce (Aus Schoolboys), Glen Hall (Souths), Mark Edmonson (St Helens).

Losses: Michael Crocker (Storm), Luke Ricketson (retired), Chris Walker (Storm), Jason Cayless (St Helens), Ben Hannant (Broncos), Stuart Webb (Souths), George Rose (Manly), Ned Catic (released), Grant Rovelli (Warriors), James Aubusson (Storm), Jack Rampling (Souths). Richard Fa’aso (Castleford).

Verdict: It’s a bit each way for the Roosters in 2006. They have lost so much forward power and haven’t really replaced it. They have lost Jason Cayless to St Helens, Mick Crocker to Melbourne, Richard Fa’aso to Castleford. Add to that list Luke Ricketson through retirement, Stuart Webb to South Sydney and Ben Hannant to the Brisbane Broncos. They have replaced those players with Glen Hall from South Sydney, and Charlie Tonga from the Bulldogs. Which means their engine room in 06’ will have no real substance apart from Great Britain international Adrian Morley and superstar Anthony Tupou.

To the contrary, they have picked up two State of Origin players in Braith Anasta and Ashley Harrison which will give them some much-needed strike in attack. The Roosters really do need to look at offloading Brett Finch if he doesn’t aim up in 2006. It will be interesting to see what sort of combination he can form with Anasta. The Roosters should slip into the eight this season but don’t count on them winning their way through the finals series as they have done in previous years, they really don’t have enough strike in the forwards.

Predicted finish: 7th

Sea Eagles:

Gains: Matt Orford (Storm), Steve Bell (Storm), Michael Robertson (Raiders), George Rose (Roosters).

Losses: Terry Hill (retired), Chad Randall (London), Scott Donald (Leeds), Sam Harris (Tigers), Jye Mullane (released), Nathan Hollingsworth (released).

Verdict: Manly have bought two quality players in Steven Bell and Matt Orford, both from the Storm. They don’t really lose too much apart from Chad Randall to England, and Terry Hill. Although Hill could be viewed more as a liability than an asset at times. Any side with new players in key positions cannot really expect too much in their first season.

Their new players are quality, and with Ben Kennedy playing better than ever the Sea Eagles will probably fall into the eight for another year. The good news for Manly is that former captain Michael Monaghan seems to have agreed to shifting positions to either hooker or five eighth. It will be interesting to see who is granted the captaincy at Manly, with Bell, Orford and Kennedy all candidates. All in all they have enough quality on their roster to play finals again in 2006.

Predicted finish: 8th


Gains: Ben Ross, Ben Pomeroy (Penrith), Lance Thompson (Dragons), Darren Mapp (Broncos), Darren Albert (St Helens), Tevita Latu (Warriors), Brett Kearney (Rabbitohs).

Losses: Jason Stevens (retired), David Peachey (Widnes), Danny Nutley (Castleford), Michael Sullivan (Warrington), Nathan Merritt, Paul Mellor (Rabbitohs), Keith Galloway (Tigers), Bryson Goodwin (Dragons), Jon green (Bulldogs), Russell Aitken (Cowboys), Ryan McGoldrick (released), Vince Mellars (released).

Verdict: The Cronulla Sharks now have a huge incentive to take the first title in their history. With arguably the greatest player in their 39-year history, Steve Rogers, tragically passing away last week. They will give it their best shot and a huge shake, but they really don’t have the playing talent to remain consistent enough to contend for the premiership at the end of the season.

While they have some useful buys, Ben Ross, Darren Albert, Lance Thompson and Tevita Latu just to name a few, they have lost plenty of quality as well. Stevens, Peachey, Nutley, McGoldrick, Sullivan, and promising young forward Keith Galloway have all departed Cronulla, who are yet another side which have lost more quality than they have gained. A top eight finish is not out of the question for the Sharks, who may be sentimental favourites if they can challenge at the back end.

Predicted finish: 10th


Gains: Michael Crocker (Roosters), Chris Walker (Roosters), Ben Cross (Raiders), Garrett Crossman (Panthers), James Aubusson (Roosters).

Losses: Matt Orford, Steven Bell (Manly), Robbie Kearns (retired), Alex Chan (Les Catalans), Peter Robinson (retired), Josh Graham (Western Force super 14), Robert Tanielu (Cowboys).

Verdict: Melbourne will really struggle in the halves with the loss of Matt Orford to Manly. Other notable omissions include Steven Bell, Robbie Kearns, Alex Chan and Peter Robinson. They pick up both Mick Crocker and Chris Walker from the Roosters, but these players can again prove to be liabilities rather than assets. While Crocker will probably work in their favour in the long term, any coach would rather have the steady and underrated Bell on their list than the hot-headed speedster Walker.

Craig Bellamy has a reasonable record as coach so far, but his ability to pick up and develop the right recruit has yet to be tested. This season will provide that test, and with Cooper Cronk in the number 7 jumper it’s hard to see the Storm making any sort of impact on the premiership.

Predicted finish: 11th


Gains: Sam Harris (Manly), Keith Galloway (Sharks), Jamaal Lolesi (Bulldogs), Ryan O'Hara (Raiders), Filinga Filiga (Bulldogs).

Losses: Pat Richards (Wigan), John Wilson (Les Catalans), Mark O'Neill (Leeds), Matthew Rieck (Dapto), Ray Cashmere (Cowboys).

Verdict: The Tigers won’t be affected as much as teams which have tried to defend their title previously. Most sides which win a competition gain significant representative recognition in the following season. The majority of the Tigers’ representatives are Kiwis, so they will only really be affected for one weekend throughout the 26 rounds. Having said that, the hunters will become the hunted in 2006 and this may just prove to be too much for a young side.

They do have the best coach in the business, Tim Sheens, and therefore will always be a title contender from here on in. They have bought well, snaring Keith Galloway, Sam Harris, Jamaal Lolesi and Ryan O’Hara, and should give the title another shake. They will go very close to winning back to back titles but the burden of having each side up for their game each week could take its toll. One thing is for certain, they can never be written off. They will be hoping they can keep Scott Prince beyond 2006, but at the moment, things aren’t looking good.

Predicted finish: 3rd


Gains: Michael Luck (Cowboys), Grant Rovelli (Roosters), George Gatis (Centrals Townsville).

Losses: Stacey Jones (Les Catalans), Monty Betham (Wakefield), Tevita Latu (Sharks), Frances Meli (St Helens), Karl Temata (London), Iafeta Paleaasina (Wigan).

Verdict: The Warriors are without doubt the most frustrating team to watch. They have so much talent and when they get going, they can beat anyone. The trouble for them is, they don’t get going anywhere near enough. One would have thought that with Steven Price and Ruben Wiki arriving at the club at the start of 2005 that the Warriors would have brought a more level-headed approach to their football, but in 2005 it was same old same old.

They have lost quite a few quality players and haven’t picked up anyone of any real stature. Losing players such as Stacey Jones, Monty Betham, Tevita Latu, Frances Meli, Karl Temata and Iafeta Paleaasina, who are all of a very high quality. They gain little known Cowboys players Michael Luck, and George Gatis, as well as Grant Rovelli from the Roosters. Ivan Cleary comes into the coaching position at the Warriors with a big task on his shoulders, to try and get this ill-disciplined team to fulfil its potential. A task which will prove to be all the more difficult with Stacey Jones leaving the club. Another long year looks likely for the men across the ditch.

Predicted finish: 12th
don't agree with the warriors placing at the back end of the table and roosters at 7th. i also don't think that the dragons have the fire power to come 1st.
some good thoughts but don't agree with them.
Any one of 15 teams could take out the comp this year, it's who gets the recipe right that will take the Holy Grail in 2006.
Some of his comments are a bit baffling. I hardly consider Te Mata, Betham, Latu and Meli of "very high quality".

In the end it's one persons opinion and anybody who makes predictions this far out from the start of the season is going to have many people critising them. Besides, leagueunlimited is hardly full of league experts. It's just one fans opinion.
I reckon Manly will be the big improvers this year with the acquisition of playmaker and goalkicker, Orford and prolific try scorer, Bell. Those two will add plenty to an already potent attack while organising and strengthening the defence.

Sadly. I can't see anywhere near the same improvement at the Warriors.

I think the guy that wrote that has good knowledge about NSW Rugby League, unfortunately it ends there.

Go read articles from the ABC website and some from SMH, theres some good indepth unbias league writers that are worth reading.
I still say we end the competition rounds in 4th place. This competition is way too close now to be picking the G/G at the beginning of the year.
Bleah. Don't agree with alot of those prdictions. Maybe that's why it's called predictions! LOL. I think you can only judge on what you see as theyear unfolds.
Must be a Dragons fan that wrote this, some good points but mostly shit. Blah, just going to have to wait arn't we... and the warriors will proove this dude wrong.
Kav said:
I reckon Manly will be the big improvers this year with the acquisition of playmaker and goalkicker, Orford and prolific try scorer, Bell. Those two will add plenty to an already potent attack while organising and strengthening the defence.

Sadly. I can't see anywhere near the same improvement at the Warriors.


I can.
It is more tahn just your playing roster. The tigers didn't win because they were oozing talent they had as much as we did and less than others like the dragons or the bulldogs.
The team that wins the preirship is the team that plays for each other, for there coach for there fans and plays smart with disipline and it will be a team that believes that they can win.
I can easy predict the following and CAN NOT be faulted.
There will be 2 teams in the GrandFinal and one of them will win. Both will play Rugby league.
Both will have good and bad times.1 of them may be and I say may be the NZ Warriors and then may be not.

However League will be the winner on the day.

Oh yeah and the Ref and touchies will all be blind !

Now I will put my crystal ball away and watch with my heart. Warriors by 8 points !
Wiki said:
Kav said:
I reckon Manly will be the big improvers this year with the acquisition of playmaker and goalkicker, Orford and prolific try scorer, Bell. Those two will add plenty to an already potent attack while organising and strengthening the defence.

Sadly. I can't see anywhere near the same improvement at the Warriors.


I can.

Warriors I believe will finish either 9th or 10th this season, the Broncos well 6th is pretty well where I had them.

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