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Big League: NRL Season Preview

Big League: NRL Season Preview

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The NRL’s season preview provides the verdict on all 16 teams competing for this year’s title and the players that will make the difference for their respective teams. Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander provides his exclusive “Brandy Rankings” while the new Depth Chart shows which positions your team is strong in and where they are lacking. We make our fearless predictions and introduce you to the ‘young guns’ who will set the Toyota Cup competition alight.

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in this issue

4 min.
ready to rise to the occasion

TEAM MILESTONES Brisbane will play their 250th game at Suncorp Stadium in Round 2 (v North Queensland). Manly require two wins to reach 900 victories at premiership level since 1947. Newcastle require 111 points to reach 15,000 points scored in the club’s history. The Sydney Roosters require 19 tries to reach 7,000 tries in the club’s history. Canberra will play the 900th game in the club’s history in Round 6 (v Parramatta at GIO Stadium). South Sydney will play their 150th game at ANZ Stadium in Round 10 (v St George Illawarra). Wests Tigers require eight wins for 200 victories in the history of the joint venture club. St George Illawarra will play their 500th game in Round 18 (v Wests Tigers at UOW Jubilee Oval). Canberra require 569 points to reach the mark of 20,000 points scored in…

4 min.
2018 talking points

INTO THE FIRING LINE Speaking of gambles, there are an abundance of rookie NRL coaches this season who, for one reason or another, have replaced their experienced colleagues. Dean Pay at the Bulldogs, Anthony Seibold at the Rabbitohs and Garth Brennan at the Titans face a mammoth task in an unforgiving role as they pick up where 2017 left off. It goes without saying that an NRL head coach is under a huge amount of pressure in a regular situation, but these guys will be up against it from the pre-season onwards – scrutinised from as early as February. BOOST FOR WOMEN’S GAME At the end of 2017 some big decisions were made to boost women’s rugby league and this season we finally get to see them in action. They will include an…

8 min.
locker room

VALE ‘CHANGA’ Rugby league immortal Graeme Langlands passed away at his Sutherland Shire nursing home at the age of 76 on January 20. The former St George Dragons and Kangaroos star, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, had been battling ill health for several months. He’ll be remembered as one of the greatest fullbacks, scoring 1,554 points from 86 tries and 648 goals. Langlands was awarded an MBE for his contribution to rugby league and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1986. TRIAL AND ERROR Yes, they may only be trials, but there are some decent pre-season fixtures for league fans to get excited about. On February 17, ANZ Stadium will host an historic international double-header where the Dragons will play Hull FC and the Rabbitohs will play Wigan. Other notable…

8 min.
2018 best buys

Cooper Cronk (Roosters) The most talked about transfer of the off-season, Cronk’s arrival at Bondi represents a new setting, a new team and a new challenge for the two-time Dally M Medal winner. Fans and detractors alike will be eagerly watching to see how he fares without Cameron Smith and Billy Slater beside him, but it’s hard to see a player of Cronk’s quality being anything but a positive buy for a team with legitimate premiership aspirations. In another boost for the club, the former Storm halfback will be available over the State of Origin period and will only focus on club footy in 2018 after announcing his representative retirement following Australia’s successful World Cup campaign. James Maloney/ Matt Moylan (Panthers/Sharks) Matt Moylan’s omission from the Panthers’ 2017 finals campaign signalled the beginning…

4 min.
pure fantasy

THE best thing about a new NRL Fantasy season is getting a fresh start. It doesn’t matter if you won the title or the wooden spoon last season, everyone is given a clean slate. This year the revamped fantasy competition will be bigger and better than any other season, with huge changes bringing a whole new strategic element to this addictive rugby league game. Bryce Cartwright (Panthers) $325,000 He’s a value buy rather than a best buy. He’s likely to start the season from the interchange, but if he snares a starting spot he’ll make a ton of cash. Jesse Bromwich (Storm) $534,000 The Kiwi prop had an awful year score-wise last year and starts very cheap as a result. With no Jordan McLean or Tohu Harris for the Storm, he’ll need to step up. THE CHANGES The…

3 min.
off-season moments that mattered

WHAT A WORLD Considered by many to be a mere formality before the tournament kicked off, few critics could have predicted the enormous success of the Rugby League World Cup. While the end result of Australian glory was not have been hard to predict, the fall of the Kiwis and the rise of island nations Tonga and Fiji, the pluck of the Mitchell Moses and Robbie Farah-led Lebanese team and the overwhelming passion of the PNG players and fans gave the tournament an abundance of compelling narratives. FREDDY GETS THE BLUES The decision to sack Laurie Daley as NSW coach in the wake of another Blue capitulation paved the way for a new era in Origin football, and after months of speculation it was Lebanon and junior Origin coach Brad Fittler (pictured, right)…