NRL Season Preview: Part Two

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With the 2023 NRL season rapidly approaching, 16 clubs are ready go again, whilst one is ready to start a new legacy.

In these three articles, I will be taking a little look into all 17 NRL clubs, giving them a small season preview, whilst predicting where I think they will finish on the ladder.

In part two, let’s take a closer look at the teams I think will be fighting for the lucrative final play-off spots, who will sneak in? And who will just miss out?

Disclaimer/All predictions are my own opinion and will most certainly not be agreed with by the majority.

Gold Coast Titans

2022 League Finish – 13th

2023 Predicted Finish – 12th

Key Player – AJ Brimson

Arrivals – Kieran Foran, Sam Verrills, Joe Stimson, Aaron Schoupp, Chris Randall, Treymain Spry.

Departures – Jarrod Wallace, Jamayne Isaako, Corey Thompson, Herman Ese’ese, Sam Lisone, Greg Marzhew.

Gold Coast Titans have looked fantastic in pre-season, and I predict that they will take a step forward in 2023. The purchase of Kieren Foran will only aid their stability, and will give their star man AJ Brimson, a license to show the world what he is capable of.

They should be looking to get into the top eight this year; however, I just don’t think they have enough in their squad to battle consistently with the teams above them. A few injuries could also derail their season, so it’s a respectable 12th for the Titans.

Canberra Raiders

2022 League Finish – 8th

2023 Predicted Finish – 11th

Key Player – Jack Wighton

Arrivals – Pasami Saulo, Danny Levi.

Departures – Josh Hodgson, Adam Elliot, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Ryan Sutton.

In 2022, Canberra snuck into the last play-off spot despite not showing much quality all season. With only two winter signings, their squad hasn’t improved. There’s no doubting the quality of some of their players, in particular Jack Wighton, but I can’t see their overall performances improving.

With the teams around them getting better and better, the battle for the play-offs will be more intense than ever. Therefore, I think the Raiders will drop a couple of positions down the ladder in 2023.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

2022 League Finish – 12th

2023 Predicted Finish – 10th

Key Player – Matt Burton

Arrivals – Viliame Kikau, Reed Mahoney, Ryan Sutton, Andrew Davey, Franklin Pele, Hayze Perham, Fa’amanu Brown, Josh Reynolds, Karl Oloapu.

Departures – Jack Hetherington, Jeremy Marshall-King, Paul Vaughan, Matt Dufty, Joe Stimson, Josh Jackson, Aaron Schoupp, Ava Seumanufagai, Corey Allan.

The Bulldogs will continue their rise up the ladder in 2023. They have got rid of more deadwood from their squad, and replaced them with proven NRL talent like Reed Mahoney. I think Matt Burton will have another fantastic year, and they will be unlucky to miss out on the top eight. They just don’t have the same strength in depth as most of the teams I have put above them.

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

2022 League Finish – 11th

2023 Predicted Finish – 9th

Key Player – Jake Trbojevic

Arrivals – Kelma Tuilagi, Ben Condon, Cooper Johns, Nathaniel Roache.

Departures – Kieran Foran, Dylan Walker, Martin Taupau, Andrew Davey.

Manly have a well-rounded squad that work fantastically together. They have recently been through some rough patches, but they seem to have come out of them as an even tighter unit. Having won the pre-season challenge, many people are backing them to have a successful year.

If they can be more consistent this campaign, and get the absolute best out of their number 13 Jake Trbojevic, they will definitely challenge for the play-offs, and have a better year than last. However, I believe they will just miss out on the last spot in the lucrative top eight.

Parramatta Eels

2022 League Finish – 4th

2023 Predicted Finish – 8th

Key Player – Mitchell Moses

Arrivals – Josh Hodgson, J’maine Hopgood, Jirah Momoisea, Jack Murchie, Matt Doorey, Daejarn Asi.

Departures – Marata Niukore, Isaiah Papali’I, Oregon Kaufusi, Reed Mahoney, Ray Stone, Tom Opacic, Hayze Perham, David Hollis.

Parramatta came so close to their first NRL title last year, losing in the final after a fantastic season. However, they followed the Grand Final loss with more loss, after the departures of several of their first team squad members.

They’ve replaced the numbers but may not have replaced the quality. Furthermore, after coming so close last year, they may find it harder to pick themselves up off the floor in 2023. I do see them having a big drop off in 2023, but they still have the individuals to secure a play-off spot, just. The good news is that star man Mitchell Moses looks like he’s staying at the club for a while longer.

Brisbane Broncos

2022 League Finish – 9th

2023 Predicted Finish – 7th

Key Reynolds – Adam Reynolds

Arrivals – Reece Walsh, Jock Madden, Martin Taupau.

Departures – Brenko Lee, David Mead, Te Maire Martin, Ryan James, Tyson Gamble, Jake Turpin, Zac Hosking, Tesi Niu, Karl Oloapu.

Brisbane also went through agony at the end of 2022, after losing their play-off spot in the final few weeks of the season. They have undergone a major rebuild in the last few years, and players like Adam Reynolds will be able to drag a very youthful looking squad to big things.

Their young squad is littered with quality that looks fantastic for the future. I see them finally getting back in the top eight this year as a big success, and one I think they would take with open arms.

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