1Eyed Eel

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There's been a number of blogs about how the Eels will go next season (and far too many team lists), but I'm interested in how you all think the other teams will go. Here are my thoughts for eight of the teams; I'll post the rest up later. Notice that I've included the expected finishes as well as the realistic finishes to differentiate between the fan and media's expectations (mostly media's, since they dictate how the fans should think), and the more realistic predictions of where teams will more likely finish.

Broncos – Say what you want about him, but Ben Barba will make a big difference to this team. They already have a good forward pack with some nifty outside backs. Halves combo still a cause for concern, however. Expected finish: top eight. Realistic finish: top eight I think is a reasonable expectation.

Raiders – A very young team with some great young talent. Fortunately for them their most valuable player, Campese, is quite experienced (along with Shillington) and should prove invaluable. Mental toughness to grind out games will likely be an issue, however. It will also be interesting to see if rumours of player unrest actually have merit or not. Ricky Stuart as coach should also be interesting. Expected finish: hard to say. Not being a Sydney-club will be a benefit, as they will be ‘sheltered’ away from what I consider to be the most viscous media circles in the country. They’ll get away with 9th-12th.  Realistic finish: I think we’ll finally see if Stuart is actually a good coach or is indeed a myth as some people believe. Bottom eight very likely. Maybe 13th?

Dragons – Another team that failed to deliver in 2013. Frankly, however, I was expecting it. They’ve recruited heavily for 2014, but of note is that most of their recruits are outside backs. I feel they are a bit thin up front, which could hurt them dearly. There’s no way to sugar coat this: I think the Dragons are a good chance for the spoon. Not a lot that has to happen for their season to go pear-shaped: their halves fail to deliver; their forward pack fails to get over the advantage line; Dugan is more focused on satisfying his inflamed ego rather than playing well. Expected finish: like the Eels, the media is relentless toward this joint-venture club, and expects success every season. You might recall that the media were already putting the knife into Steve Price before the 2013 season even got underway! With new recruits and a fresh look, I think the media will expect the Dragons to return to the finals. Realistic finish: the pressure will overwhelm the Dragons, and once they start to slide they will fall hard. 13th-16th.

Bulldogs – The enemy club. Barba is a loss, no doubt. Still have a strong forward pack, yet could use some more class out wide. Fullback remains an issue, and Trent Hodkinson needs to improve. Des Hasler should not be underestimated, however. Expected finish: definitely top eight. Maybe to challenge top four depending on how things pan out. Realistic finish: top eight. 6th is fair.

Sharks – Tough and experienced. A team that has meticulously been assembled to challenge for the title. I still think they need more class in the outside backs; Carney is not enough. Some more youth is needed in my opinion. Time is running out before another recruitment drive will be required. Is ASADA finished with this team? Expected finish: top five. Needs to run deeper into the finals. Realistic finish: I’d be surprised if they make the top four. 5th or 6th more likely.

Titans – I honestly don’t know with this team. A good mixture of youth and experience. Still have my doubts over their young halves pairing. I think consistency will be the test. Expected finish: to at least challenge for the top eight for the whole season. Realistic finish: they should build on 2013, so I guess 8th or within a whisker. Anything below 10th should be considered a failure.

Manly – Hard, tough, experienced, knows how to win footy games. Manly continue to impress. How long will their amazing run last? Only injuries could derail them. Expected finish: top four and a genuine chance at the title. Realistic finish: top four is reasonable.

Panthers – A team that just wants to be respected. This team largely goes unnoticed due its more glamorous neighbours out West. I thought the Panthers had a pretty good season, with quite an impressive away record. Once again they’ve recruited heavily, with the theme of competitive players who can deliver solid and respectable performances. Obviously this club wants a team that can compete for the whole season yet isn’t too concerned about making the finals any time soon, and is simply content to wait for its stellar juniors to be ready for first-grade. This is an interesting strategy, and one that they can probably afford to go with since they hardly ever receive much of the media spotlight. Expected finish: to perform at least as well as they did in 2013. Realistic finish: there’s always a team that ‘falls from grace’ once the new season gets underway. This team is tough but isn’t exactly brimming with talent. If the Panthers lose their competitive edge they might slide down the ladder a bit. I’ll be outspoken and say 12th-14th

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Great format EWR, this should be in top blogs for a great conversation. looking forward to your other remaining  teams predictions.

and where's Parra gonna end up?

give him chance that is only 8 teams so far

Not a Buckley chance, mate. This is the One Eyed Eels website, there's no chances here!

My finishes would be:

1. South Sydney Rabbitohs

2. Sydney Roosters

3. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagle

4. Melbourne Storm

5. Cronulla Sharks

6. Brisbane Broncos

7. Newcastle Knights

8. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

9. Gold Coast Titans

10. Parramatta Eels

11. North Queensland Cowboys

12. New Zealand Warriors

13. Penrith Panthers

14.St George-Illawara Dragons

15. Wests Tigers

16. Canberra Raiders

Cronulla will be lower,
Canterbury will be lower,
NQ will be higher and
Panthers will be higher.

The following are in groups of 4, where in each quarter each team will finish I am not sure.

Top 4:

Roosters – Best Defence in the League

Rabbitohs – Huge Pack and blistering backs

Storm – Best Spine in the League

Sea Eagles – Tough all around team.

I just cannot see this group changing this year at all.

Top 8:

Cowboys – Will not surprise me if they get into the top 4, came home with a Wet sail and have a new coach.

Bulldogs – I think loosing Barba will be a boost for them as rumour was he created disharmony in the team. Already under siege and they perform best in siege mode.

Knights – Bennett is building his team and you cannot underestimate the master,still cannot see them top 4

Sharks – Assuming ASADA does nothing major, still have a great pack that gives their lack luster backline room to move.

Top 12:

Warriors – Consistency is their biggest enemy, should make the 8 but will fail, again.

Titans – While performed well for most of the season finished where I expected them to. No major changes to the team, expect a similar result.

Broncos – No Half paring of note, struggled with the halves they had this year and have lost the lot.

Eels – Better 5/8, better Hooker and Baby Eels have more experience after being blooded this year. More depth. I just cannot see our forwards dominating the top 8 forward packs and this is our weakness.

Bottom 4:

Panthers - Performed better than I expected this year but lost a great fullback and I do not rate Wallace or Soward either. Could push into the top 12 if Wallace and Soward combine.

Dragons – Cannot see much improvement from them. Did buy well but there is the Steve Price factor

Tigers – Will push for the spoon very hard for the spoon, blooding a young team.

Raiders – Something is rotten in the capital and stars are leaving in droves, then there is the Ricky Stewart “motivation” factor.

Interesting that you have the same top eight as this year's. History suggests that some of them will go backwards and miss the finals. I'm tipping the Cowboys.

I do think that the Warriors and Titans could push into the 8 possibly at the expense of the Sharks and Knights.

I also think the Roosters could have a GF hangover and drop out of the 4 and the cowboys jump up. 

The Cowboys are a little bit of a wild card, they have under performed for a number of years and came home with a wet sail in 2013 just like we did in 2009. Will they do what we did in 2010 or can Paul Green pull them together were Henry could not? Green had good success in Q-Cup but nothing in NRL level.

And the Sharks could be decimated by ASADA

I've just posted the second part of my predictions. You can find it here. I decided to post it as a separate blog rather than tack it onto this one. Less messy.


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