Partly two of our 2023 NRL season preview, we take a look at the groups that completed within the backside half of the ultimate eight: Melbourne Storm, Sydney Roosters, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canberra Raiders.
ALSO: NRL 2023 CLUB-BY-CLUB PREVIEW – PART I
15-9 – 32pts – fifth
One factor you’ll be able to wager on with confidence is that the Melbourne Storm will begin the season firing as coach Craig Bellamy is meticulous with regards to making ready his facet for battle.
And, if the Stormtroopers can repeat their blistering 2022 begin of seven wins from their first eight video games, they are going to put themselves in a robust place to problem for a top-eight spot but once more.
A finals sequence with out the Storm hasn’t occurred for the previous 12 seasons, so it might be ridiculous to put in writing them off this season regardless of a bunch of participant exits.
There’s little question, although, season 2023 might be a difficult 12 months for Bellamy with the continuing hamstring problems with star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, who solely lately returned from a rehab stint with reconditioning specialist Invoice Knowles in Philadelphia.
Knowles had good success treating South Sydney star Latrell Mitchell for a continual hamstring, and Papenhuyzen has reported glorious progress within the 10 days spent understanding with him.
Melbourne have an unimaginable finals document having made the large dance for the previous 12 seasons.
However there’s undoubtedly a sense quantity 13 may very well be unfortunate for them after shedding the Bromwich brothers, Jessie and Kenny, and Queensland Origin ahead Felise Kafusi, who’ve all been lured to the Dolphins.
One other long-term pack member, veteran Dale Finucane, has left to affix the Sharks.
The most important loss, although, might show to be livewire utility Brandon Smith.
He has packed his luggage and headed to Bondi Junction to play for the Sydney Roosters, leaving Bellamy to place collectively a new-look pack for the primary time in a number of years.
Happily, the Storm have fended off approaches from rival golf equipment eager to get their fingers on rampaging ahead Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who will lead the Melbourne pack the one method he is aware of how – up the center.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona would be the driving pressure within the Storm pack this 12 months.
Bellamy has recruited skilled however fiery ahead Tariq Sims, who will little question be beneath strict directions to remain on the sphere extra this season following a nasty run of suspensions.
Bellamy has additionally signed proficient younger back-rower Eli Katoa, who many imagine is destined for large issues after he was launched from his contract by the Warriors.
As we stated, it might be foolhardy to dismiss Melbourne, given the standard gamers they nonetheless have in lots of key positions.
If Papenhuyzen’s US journey proves a hit and he can shake off his hamstring troubles, and if Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster flip it on within the halves, it’s protected to say groups will battle to comprise the Storm in assault.
And let’s not omit gun hooker Harry Grant from the equation along with his means to interrupt down defences out of dummy half.
Melbourne’s backline has a whole lot of factors in it with Reimis Smith and Justin Olam within the centres and aerial professional Xavier Coates on the wing sure the be among the many competitors’s main try-scorers.
Melbourne missed the management, drive and clean-up work of ahead Christian Welch final season after he suffered a devastating Achilles harm within the very first sport of 2022.
Welch is a pure chief who will get his fingers soiled, does the one-percenters and takes the soiled hit-ups.
So, in abstract, Melbourne nonetheless have the gamers to problem for the finals in 2023, offered Papenhuyzen stays wholesome and the new-look Storm pack rises to the problem forward.
Enjoying roster: Ryan Papenhuyzen, Nick Meany, Reimis Smith, Justin Olam, Xavier Coates, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Harry Grant, Christian Welch, Eliea Katoa, Tariq Simms, Tui Kamikamica, Tyran Wishart, Dean Jeremia, Jack Howarth, Jayden Nikorima, Joe Chan, Jordan Grant, Marion Seve, Tepai Moeroa, Grant Anderson, Cole Geyer. Growth gamers: Sualauvi Faalogo, Tristan Powell.
2023 Melbourne Storm predictions:
15-9 – 32pts – sixth
The Sydney Roosters are normally in everybody’s high eight and in lots of top-four predictions for cause – they’ve an amazing coach and a whole lot of high-quality gamers.
That received’t change this 12 months – particularly with the addition of former Storm terrier Brandon Smith, who will add a brand new dimension to the Roosters’ assault along with his direct and aggressive operating.
If Smith strikes a fast mixture with Roosters No.7, Sam Walker and some different gamers, it might pay large dividends.
The Roosters are stacked with expertise, particularly in assault with three of the sport’s most potent ball-runners in fullback James Tedesco, winger Joseph Suaali’i and the participant many regard as the most effective within the enterprise, Joey Manu.
Tedesco was merely sensible for Australia within the current Rugby League World Cup, and you’ll count on ‘Teddy’ to be concerned in all the things once more this season.
The NRL is stacked with unimaginable fullbacks, and for a time final 12 months there have been questions being requested if Tedesco was nonetheless the most effective primary within the sport.
However think about these figures and the reply is a convincing ‘sure’.
Final season Tedesco ran nearly 5,000 metres, averaging simply over 215 metres per sport – the second-best within the NRL.
He set a tackle-break document of 166 and completed with 13 tries (12 in his final 15 video games), 12 strive assists and 17 line-breaks.
James Tedesco proved final season that he’s nonetheless the NRL’s premier fullback.
Suaali’i needs Tedesco’s primary jumper, however for now, the thrilling 19-year-old must bide his time on the wing, or possibly within the centres, till he positive aspects extra expertise.
Manu has some freakish skills, and this may very well be the 12 months he confirms his stature as a future nice of the sport.
As soon as once more Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who turned 34 final month, will do the heavy lifting and play the enforcer/intimidator position he relishes for the Roosters.
‘The Beast’ carts a heavy judiciary rap sheet into 2023, however he’s an outdated canine who’s unlikely to alter his methods after 274 appearances for the Roosters since 2010.
He’ll get good backup from fellow beginning prop Lindsay Collins, who’s constructed from concrete and a real hard-man who fearlessly carries the ball into the defence.
With operating back-rowers like Victor Radley and Angus Crichton, it’s no surprise why the Roosters are so well-liked with tipsters.
You get the sensation coach Trent Robinson has been plotting in the direction of one other premiership for the Bondi mob, and given the event of some younger gamers and the arrival of Smith, there’s each cause for Roosters followers to be optimistic about 2023.
Enjoying roster: James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou, Paul Momirovski, Joey Manu, Joseph Suaalli, Luke Keary, Sam Walker, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Brandon Smith, Lindsay Collins, Angus Crichton, Nat Butcher, Victor Radley, Drew Hutchison, Terrell Might, Egan Butcher, Fletcher Baker, Sitili Tupouniua Billy Smith, Corey Allan, Jaxon Paulo, Jake Turpin, Siua Wong, Naufau Whyte, Robert Toia, Tukupa Hau Taphua.
2023 Sydney Roosters predictions:
South Sydney Rabbitohs
14-10 – 30pts – seventh
The South Sydney Rabbitohs will once more rely closely on their large three – Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, and Damian Cook dinner – to orchestrate the Bunnies’ fortunes in 2023.
The trio present the brains and brilliance behind a robust pack with Tom Burgess and Tevita Tatoa offering the muscle.
Souths have teased their followers for the previous 5 years, ending in a top-four spot 3 times since successful the premiership in 2014.
They’ve received extra premierships, 21, than every other membership in historical past, so enjoying finals soccer is of their DNA.
However simply how they take the following step from high 4 to premiers is the large query dealing with Jason Demetriou in his second season at Redfern.
It goes with out saying a lot relies on Mitchell staying match and difficult for the title of NRL’s finest, however it’s definitely not past him if he focuses completely on his soccer.
Few gamers can do what Mitchell can, whether or not it’s a no-look cross, a freakish flick cross, busting half a dozen tackles, or developing with an enormous play that lifts his teammates.
He doesn’t need to do all of it, although, with Walker a magician at instances when he sniffs half an opportunity and Cook dinner, who when he will get his operating sport going modifications the tempo of how Souths play.
Latrell Mitchell may very well be the important thing to South Sydney’s 2023 marketing campaign.
When Cook dinner is operating, which he did so effectively final 12 months, so are Souths.
Halfback Lachlan Ilias may have realized quite a bit from his debut season changing Adam Reynolds, and he confirmed greater than sufficient at instances to counsel he might be foil for Walker.
Alex Johnston will guarantee a whole lot of tries are scored down his facet after defying the critics with one other excellent season in 2022 when he took his strive tally to 166 – probably the most ever by a South Sydney participant within the membership’s historical past.
He missed a sport final season however, with 30 tries, nonetheless led all-comers.
How Demetriou makes use of Cameron Murray might be attention-grabbing.
Murray’s speedy play-the-balls have been a function of Souths’ rolling fashion a couple of years in the past, however final season he adopted extra of a distributing position as a second five-eighth.
Onerous-running Liam Knight (ACL ligament) is just not anticipated again till mid-season, so a number of the less-experienced forwards could get a couple of alternatives early.
Enjoying roster: Latrell Mitchell, Alex Johnston, Campbell Graham, Isaiah Tass, Izaac Thompson, Cody Walker, Lachlan Ilias, Tevita Tatola, Damien Cook dinner, Tom Burgess, Keaon Koloamatangi, Jai Arrow, Cameron Murray, Blake Taffe, Silivia Havili Jacob Host, Davvy Moale, Ben Lovett, Daniel Saluka-Fifita, Dean Hawkins, Hame Sele, Jed Cartwright, Josiah Karapani, Jye Grey. Growth gamers: Leon Te Hau, Michael Chee Kam, Peter Mamouzelos, Shaquai Mitchell, Taane Milne, Tallis Duncan, Terrell Kalo Kalo, Tyrone Munro.
2023 South Sydney Rabbitohs predictions:
14-10 – 30pts – Eighth
What can Ricky’s Raiders give us this 12 months?
At their finest, they’re a deadly facet.
However, on the flip facet, they usually give groups a head begin, and whereas they’ve pulled off some memorable comeback wins, in addition they can fall agonisingly brief.
And what in regards to the coach?
Will Ricky Stuart be capable to management his feelings if issues go bitter at some stage of the season?
In some ways, and I apologise to Forrest Gump, Ricky and the Raiders are like a field of candies – you by no means know what you’ll get.
That’s to not say they will’t push, and even beat, a number of the high sides; it simply means you by no means know when they’re going to flip it on.
Stuart has a couple of choice points to resolve following the departure of the membership’s English worldwide Josh Hodgson attributable to some private points and accidents.
Stuart is probably to present flame-haired Zac Woolford a shot at beginning hooker after he progressed from NSW Cup participant to nearly a daily with 17 video games final season whereas Hodgson was out injured.
Stuart threw him into first grade in final 12 months’s Magic Spherical and he performed each sport thereafter.
He did effectively with a 12-17 win document at 71 per cent.
No teen at 26, Woolford shaped relationship with halfback Jamal Fogarty and five-eighth Jack Wighton — two Raider gamers who will as soon as once more have an enormous bearing on the membership’s 2023 season.
The Raiders rely closely on Jack Wighton’s workrate and creativity within the halves.
Wighton is likely one of the sport’s most underrated gamers, so sturdy and with an amazing boot that may change a sport.
He is a continuing menace when sides get a bit of drained or lazy towards the tip of every half.
Canberra don’t lack muscle with veteran Josh Papalii, Joseph Tapine and Hudson Younger within the center.
Anticipate Corey Horsburgh to push for a spot within the beginning line-up together with Adam Elliott and Pasami Paulo, a Stuart recruit from Newcastle who he charges extremely.
Lengthy-serving Raider Jarrod Croker has a battle on his fingers to lock down a centre place forward of Matt Timoko and Seb Kris.
Xavier Savage has locked down the fullback job, whereas Nic Cotric and Jordan Rapana decide themselves on the wings.
Croker had a tricky season in 2022, shedding his beginning spot earlier than falling sufferer to a shoulder harm and lacking the tip of the 12 months.
Die-hard Raiders followers, although, might be hoping the 32-year-old – who’s the membership’s greatest-ever scorer with 2,244 profession factors – can get the eight video games he must change into a member of an unique membership of footballers who’ve performed 300 video games for one NRL membership.
At the moment, he sits on 292 video games since his debut in 2009.
Enjoying roster: Xavier Savage, Nick Cotric, Matt Timoko, Seb Kris, Jordan Rapana, Jack Wighton, Jamal Fogarty, Josh Papalii, Zac Woolford, Joseph Tapine, Hudson Younger, Elliott Whitehead, Corey Harawira-Naera, Tom Starling, Emre Guler, Pasami Saulo, Corey Horsburgh, Jarrod Croker, Danny Levi, Albert Hopoate, Ata Mariota, Brad Schneider, Trey Mooney, Clay Webb, Harley Smith-Shields, James Schiller, Matt Frawley, Peter Hola, Semi Valemei, Adrian Trevilyan.
2023 Canberra Raiders predictions:
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