It’s that time of year again, and seeing as I did so well last time around (correctly predicting a Hull v Wigan CC Final with us winning!), you really should take notice this time.
Got that? Right, here goes.
Firstly, lets look at our jolly down under. I think we’ll win against Wigan in Wollongong, it’ll be hot and muggy and we’ll all get smashed by mozzies and sandflies, but we’ll be sat in the pubs around WIN afterwards singing Old Faithful at the top of our lungs and scratching the bites.
The double header at ANZ will be a different story though. Souths will take Wigan apart, and although we’ll run St George close, we’ll just get shaded. We’ll all need a bank loan afterwards as the beer at the stadium is a/ expensive and b/ crap. Don’t buy a hot dog either, you’ll need to sell a kidney.
Top Four, Saints, Hull, Leeds, Warrington
Last year I said a Warrington win, and we all know how that ended, still I think they’ll bounce back under a new coach this time around. Steve Price doesn’t really have the killer instinct though and I think fourth is about their level. Hull to finish second and make the Grand Final, with Saints the big improvers winning the League Leaders Shield. They looked a totally different side with a better coach and if Ben Barba fires as he’s capable of, they could win the whole shooting match.
I think Cas will miss the top four (one season wonders) and although Leeds falter a little without the dwarf and whinger combination, they’ll still finish third. So, Hull v Saints at OT with us winning a close one.
Bottom Four, Salford, Huddersfield, Rovers, and Widnes.
Difficult one this, as unless Rovers sign a couple of big forwards (I’m writing this Jan 3rd) before the season starts I can see them struggling. If they do get some big boppers in, and lay a platform for McGuire they might scrape eighth. McGuire is the big question, how will he go in a much less professional environment? I think his signing is akin to when we got Longy. He won’t improve them, but he’ll maintain the standard they’ve been at. Hence they’ll struggle against big physical sides – like, well us, but will run smaller teams around the park. My hope is that if Rovers do survive, and I dearly hope they don’t, then this is the year that perennial strugglers Widnes go down, and get replaced by either Leigh, who have recruited amazingly, or Toronto.
The word that comes to mind is “Threepeat”…….
Hull go into the final hot favourites over surprise package Wakefield and despite a close match we prevail with Sneyd collecting his third consecutive Lance Todd.
Sydney Roosters to dominate the comp from start to finish. The thought of James Tedesco in a decent team, after how good he’s been in an average Tigers squad, is scary and I think that Cronk will also be the difference. The Cowboys and Broncos will once again be around the top of the table with Parra, Melbourne and Penrith. I think my Tigers will scrape into the top eight, although (and this pains me to say it) I can’t see where they’re going to play Mahe Fonua. Their recruitment, especially in the backs looks strong but the sheer amount of change will mean it takes them a while to get going as they gel. Same with Newcastle who will come good, and won’t get the spoon this year. I’m giving that honour to the Titans, although the Bulldogs and Warriors will be toilet as well.
State of Origin
This is the thorny one as both sides are undergoing some generational change, but I think that with a new coach in Brad Fittler – who bleeds blue – I’m going for a NSW 2-1 series win, with the breakout star being Tedesco.
Last year, I got two out of my three NRL predictions correct, and this year I’m going for an obvious one and two left field ones.
Firstly, Stephen Kearney will “get the arse” from the Warriors mid-season, and be replaced by Michael Maguire. My left field ones are Wayne Bennett, who I think will simply get bored and announce his retirement before the end of the season, and Trent Barrett at Manly will pay the price for coaching a team where the supporters expectations don’t match their squads capabilities.
Betts will finally get the chop from Widnes, and I’m tipping that Steve McNamara will resign at the end of the year at Catalans to take over at Rovers, when Tim Sheens retires after their bottom three finish.
And finally, a few random predictions:
In the wendyball Hull City get relegated to League One, scuppering any remaining hope of getting rid of their Egyptian mafia owners. It turns out that Ehab Allam was behind the Tramadol smuggling scandal, and gets thrown in jail with his little known younger cousin Ahmed taking over the reins and moving the club to Cairo and renaming them the Hull Tigercamels.
Every time we play Rovers they’ll target Kelly constantly, enabling Sneyd and Abdull (who will enjoy a renaissance at Loose Forward) to run riot.
And finally this is the year the Jamie Shaul breaks through properly, becoming the irrespirable choice for the England no1 spot thanks to his 20 tries in the season and man of the match performance in the Grand Final.
Until next time, Up the Cream, Gerremonsard and Come on you ‘Ull.
Rich – Twitter @pommyrich