17) ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Might seem harsh to have a team that didn’t roll out in 17th position. But when the most positive news to come out of your club is that Jason Ryles is being pursued to jump in Hook’s grave mid-season coupled with laying one of the all-time stinkers in the charity shield, until the Dragons offer something on the field, they are bringing up the rear.
16) NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
It might be a long year for Knights. Their middle looks slow with a soft underbelly. Would surprise to see Adam O’Brien last past origin.
15) CANTERBURY BULLDOGS
How underwhelming was this. Despite Reed Mahoney looking great and leading from the front they looked awful. With the roster they have assembled they really should be higher on this list. They are short on middles for now through injuries, but everything they did was painful to watch. Was always going to take time but they would need to dramatically improve to get anywhere near the side a lot of teams expected to see pre-season.
14) WESTS TIGERS
The decision not to start Api Koroisau was a curious one. Even more so when they went behind by 12 before he saw the field. There was plenty of rust mixed in with some good signs. A victim of their previous seasons a little.
13) GOLD COAST TITANS
Some positives for the Gold Coast Titans in a game that didn’t reach any great heights. David Fifita looks really fit and Keiran Foran did some great things before getting injured. They have an elite middle of the field but showed some of the bad habits that crippled them in previous years. Interesting watch this week against the Dragons.
12) THE DOLPHINS
Amazing win for the competition’s new boys. Hard not to think the way in which they played, and their roster leads to belief they have just played and won their Grand Final. If Wayne can keep them humming through till the origin period the excitement will only grow. Jeremy Marshall-King and Felise Kaufusi were phenomenal in leading their side on different sides of the ball.
11) NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Shaun Johnson running the ball is great for rugby League. Jackson Ford looked great and the return of Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad was great to see. I have grave concerns about the prospects of Newcastle though, another good win against the Roosters on the back of completely revamping their side will make people stand up and pay attention though.