Big League: NRL Season Preview

Big League: NRL Season Preview 2017

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.
top 8 off-season moments

HORROR WEEK IN THE HUNTER After consecutive wooden spoons, Newcastle fans might have thought this could be a year for cautious optimism – but all it took was one week for that to change. First, on-field leader Jarrod Mullen shocked the NRL community by testing positive for anabolic steroid use – he now faces a four-year ban. The very next day forward Pauli Pauli was involved in a seven-car accident and dislocated his hip. It was then confirmed that new recruit Rory Kostjasyn will miss the first six weeks of the season with a freak throat injury. To top it all off, forward Korbin Sims sought a shock immediate release from his contract to join Brisbane for considerably less money. Hopefully none of the bad news will have a major effect…

1 min.
big league’s fearless predictions

David Piepers Subeditor Premiers: Raiders Wooden Spoon: Knights Player to Watch: Latrell Mitchell. Played every game of his rookie year and impressed hugely with his pace and strength. Surrounded by an experienced squad and moved out wide, he’s only going to get better. Michael Blok Staff Writer Premiers: Cowboys Wooden spoon: Knights Player to watch: Matt Moylan. Finishing last season on a high, the Penrith skipper could be in for another big year and is my early pick to take out the Dally M Medal. Craig Loughlin-Smith Art Director Premiers: Panthers Wooden spoon: Knights Player to watch: Joey Leilua. He was one of the most damaging players in the competition last season with 130 tackle-breaks and 71 offloads. He could go big again. Bowie Phillips National Advertising Manager Premiers: Cowboys Wooden spoon: Knights Player to watch: Ash Taylor. He had an outstanding debut season and he’ll be taking the…

6 min.
up for discuss ion

COACHES FEELING THE HEAT At the end of last season a handful of coaches were under pressure and it wouldn’t have been surprising to see some coaching changes. However, only Warriors coach Andrew McFadden lost his job. With the new season comes a fresh opportunity for these under-fire coaches. Bulldogs mentor Des Hasler was handed another year to prove himself after he survived a marathon board meeting following his side’s departure from the NRL finals. With the Robbie Farah saga out of the way, Jason Taylor will let the footy do the talking but his job could be on the line if the Tigers fail to reach the finals for a sixth-straight season. St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor and Manly’s Trent Barrett will also need better results to appease fans…

2 min.
2017 best buys

Robbie Farah South Sydney One of the most prolific feuds in recent history finally ended last September when Robbie Farah signed with the Rabbitohs for two seasons. After over a decade with the Wests Tigers it’s certainly odd to see him in a new jersey, but the move has the potential to unleash the best in his game. We all know what the NSW and Australia rep is capable of at hooker, and with no outside distractions or power struggles dictating his career, he can let loose and just play. South Sydney’s monster forward pack should relish being led forward by someone with so much experience. Considering he will still also want to be in the running for a Blues jersey, expect to see a reinvigorated Farah take the field. Kevin ProctorGold…

1 min.
best of the rest

Jarrod Wallace Gold Coast The Broncos tried their best to keep him but the Titans’ willingness to break out the chequebook proves how valued the young prop is. Paul Vaughan St George Illawarra Vaughan couldn’t find a spot for most of the year in the Raiders’ established pack, but he’s well poised to be an integral member of the Dragons’ squad. Josh Hoffman Parramatta Experienced and established, Hoffman can slot into almost anywhere in the backline and the move should give his career a boost. David Mead Brisbane A very handy finisher who will thrive off the back of Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt. Jamal Idris Wests Tigers One of the competition’s unknowns heading into 2017, but we’ve all seen Idris at his damaging best. Plenty of potential there. Frank Pritchard Parramatta He’s coming into the back–end of his career but…

3 min.
greatest hits keep coming

TEAM MILESTONES Brisbane require one try to record their 3,000th try at premiership level since 1988. The Warriors require two wins to achieve their 250th NRL victory. Penrith require three wins to record their 500th victory since joining the premiership in 1967. The Gold Coast will play their 250th game in the NRL when they meet the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium in Round 5. Manly require 123 points to notch 30,000 points since entering the premiership in 1947. St George Illawarra require 231 points to bring up 10,000 points since 1999. South Sydney will play their 200th game at Allianz Stadium when they meet Manly in Round 9. North Queensland require 52 tries to reach 2,000 tries at NRL level. Penrith require 34 tries for 2,000 tries at Pepper Stadium since 1967. The Gold Coast require 354 points to…