By Stephen Gallagher
EIGHTH: SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Ins: Michael Oldfield (Catalans Dragons), Damien Cook (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sam Burgess (English rugby union), Hymel Hunt (Melbourne Storm)
Outs: Issac Luke (New Zealand Warriors), Ben Lowe (retirement), Glenn Stewart (Catalans Dragons), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast Titans), Dylan Walker (Manly Sea Eagles)
It’s an eighth place finish for Souths. There will be a lot of people expecting Sam Burgess, the worse English rugby player in history to come back and score all their tries and make all their tackles but that just won’t happen.
They’ve lost a little bit of talent and experience, and I think this is going to be a new direction for Souths with a few more youngsters taking spots in the first grade side.
Any time they make the finals, they ruffle feathers – so it will be interesting to see just what they can achieve if they do scrape in to the eight this season.
SEVENTH: SAINT GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Ins: Kurt Mann (Melbourne Storm), Siliva Havili (New Zealand Warriors), Mose Masoe (St Helens RLFC), Dunamis Lui (Manly Sea Eagles), Tyrone McCarthy (Hull Kingston Rovers), Sebastine Ikahihifo (New Zealand Warriors), Kalifa Faifai Loa (Gold Coast Titans), Josh McCrone (Canberra Raiders), Taane Milne (Sydney Roosters), Adam Quinlan (St Helens), Tim Lafai (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Outs: Trent Merrin (Penrith Panthers), Dan Hunt (retirement), Charly Runciman (Widnes Vikings), Nathan Green (Manly Sea Eagles) Rory O’Brien (Parramatta Eels), Eto Nabuli (rugby union), Justin Hunt (Wests Tigers), Heath L’estrange (retirement), Adam Tuimavave-Gerard (released), Jack Kavanagh (released), Mark Ioane (London Broncos), Craig Garvey (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
This team was very gutsty in 2015, and they proved a lot of people wrong. This year, they will continue to build. There are plenty of new faces and fresh talent amongst the ranks.
This will be a big forward pack running around in a red v, and they will cause lots of teams other pain.
I just don’t think there is enough consistency through this team, but they will be definitely good enough to make the top eight.
SIXTH: MANLY WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES
Ins: Dylan Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Nate Myles (Gold Coast Titans), Martin Taupau (Wests Tigers), Lewis Brown (Penrith Panthers), Apisai Koroisau (Penrith Panthers), Darcy Lussick (Parramatta Eels), Tim Moltzen (Wests Tigers), Matt Parcell (Brisbane Broncos), Nathan Green (St George Illawarra Dragons), John Walker (rugby union), Tom Wright (schoolboy rugby union), Fabian Goodall (Parramatta Eels)
Outs: Kieran Foran (Parramatta Eels), Matt Ballin (Wests Tigers), James Hasson (Parramatta Eels), Justin Horo (Catalan Dragons), Jack Littlejohn (Wests Tigers), Ligi Sao (New Zealand Warriors), Michael Chee-Kam (Wests Tigers), Willie Mason (released), Dunamis Lui (St George Illawarra Dragons), Cheyse Blair (Melbourne Storm), Jesse Sene Lefao (Cronulla Sharks), Will Pearsall (Newcastle Knights), Clinton Gutherson (Parramatta Eels), Peta Hiku (Penrith Panthers)
After a season to forget for Manly in 2015, it’s a brand new era with new coach, new team, new players, new everything! Except they’re still playing at Brookie.
I feel really strongly about this Sea Eagles side. They are one of the most consistent sides over the last decade, and they will bounce back in such a solid way in 2016.
They’re going to run it hard and fast against every team they play, and they will be the team that will always get the win in a close battle.
The only unknown is coach Trent Barrett has not been tested at this level as a coach. How will be cope at the helm?
FIFTH: NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Ins: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Ligi Sao (Manly Sea Eagles), Blake Ayshford (Cronulla Sharks), Henare Wells (Burleigh Bears), Jeff Robson (Cronulla Sharks), Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Melbourne Storm), Ali Lauitiiti (Wakefield)
Outs: Nathan Friend (Gold Coast Titans), Siliva Havili (St George Illawarra Dragons), Nathaniel Peteru (Gold Coast Titans), Dominique Peyroux (St Helens RLFC), Sam Rapira (Huddersfield Giants), Sam Tomkins (Wigan Warriors), Chad Townsend (Cronulla Sharks), Sebastine Ikahihifo (St George Illawarra Dragons), Bradley Abbey (Canterbury Bulldogs), Glen Fisiiahi (rugby union), David Bhana (Newcastle Knights), Ngani Laumape (rugby union)
The Warriors…. The Worriers….. They have undoubtedly made the best signings for this year out of any club…. but as we all know and have seen over the years… that really doesn’t mean much.
A lot of other media think that McFadden’s job is on the line – but I won’t be writing that.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Isaac Luke and Shaun Johnson will take their games to a new level, with lots of guys that has been questionable over the last two years to deliver with such incredible players around them. They won’t make the top four – but they will finally deliver the goods loyal fans have been waiting for.
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