A 2013 NRL Retrospective and Grand Final Preview

By Jack Brady

It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for.

Manly and Roosters fans nerves peak as their sides face off in the big one, fans of the 14 other clubs look forward to the season’s end – to the end the disappointment and heartache before looking towards 2014. While journalists are just happy they get their weekends back for the summer.

In one way or another, everyone is looking forward to today’s game, the 2013 NRL decider. Before we look at the game, the Brady Foray wanted to take a look back on the season that has been – in a retrospective look on our season previews.

How Brady Foray predicted it

How it actually finished

1st: Melbourne Storm

2nd: South Sydney Rabbitohs

3rd: Canterbury Bulldogs

4th: North Queensland Cowboys

5th: Manly-Waringah Sea Eagles

6th: Cronulla Sharks

7th: Newcastle Knights

8th: Canberra Raiders

9th: Sydney Roosters

10th: Brisbane Broncos

11th: Penrith Panthers

12th: Gold Coast Titans

13th: New Zealand Warriors

14th: Wests Tigers

15th: St. George Illawarra Dragons

16th: Parramatta Eels

1st: Sydney Roosters

2nd: South Sydney Rabbitohs

3rd: Melbourne Storm

4th: Manly-Waringah Sea Eagles

5th: Cronulla Sharks

6th: Canterbury Bulldogs

7th: Newcastle Knights

8th: North Queensland Cowboys

9th: Gold Coast Titans

10th: Penrith Panthers

11th: New Zealand Warriors

12th: Brisbane Broncos

13th: Canberra Raiders

14th: St. George Illawarra Dragons

15th: Wests Tigers

16th: Parramatta Eels

Let it be known that the Brady Foray correctly predicted the exact positions of South Sydney, Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels while managing to pick seven of the eight teams in the top eight. Otherwise, like most punters, we predicted pretty terribly.

Our main man and Brady Foray wildcard Erratic Eddy traveled a little better with his predictions however.

Eddy made the call that Lote Tuqiri should give it up, to not write the Panthers off in which they had a better than expected season and that Corey Parker would be a fantasy powerhouse (which is as easy as a prediction as saying Channel Nine love anything to do with Sonny-Bill Williams). Perhaps he is a psychic genius though, having told Blake Ferguson to pull his head in before a ball had even been kicked this season (obviously he didn’t) before stating that Manly’s exceptional signings in Horo, Gower and Lawrence were all brilliant – a proven fact with all three men playing in the NRL Grand Final today.

Yet Eddy can’t always be right. He stated that St. George’s Josh Drinkwater would be the rookie of the year, Albert Kelly would be a wasted signing and Tony Williams would be a one of the best signings of season 2013. All proved otherwise.

Above all this we have a Grand Final to talk about.

Grand Final Preview

The experienced and the entertainers, Watmough versus SBW, Cherry-Evans & Foran up against Pearce and Maloney, the old heads and captains Lyon and Minichiello contrast the livewires Jennings and the Stewart brothers – Manly versus the Roosters.

No matter what aspect you look at this game from, the mouthwatering possibilities are endless. It has been far too long since a Grand Final has lived up to expectations but today could prove the difference.

We are in for a cliffhanger from start to finish and at the end of 80 minutes one club will be lifting the Provan-Summons Trophy as the 2013 premiership winners.

How They Line Up:

Manly-Waringah Sea Eagles: 1- Brett Stewart, 2- Jorge Taufua, 3- Jamie Lyon (C), 4- Steve Matai, 5- David Williams, 6- Kieran Foran, 7- Daly Cherry-Evans, 8- Brenton Lawrence, 9- Matt Ballin, 10- Brent Kite, 11- Anthony Watmough, 12- Justin Horo, 13- Glenn Stewart. Interchange: 14- David Gower, 15- Jamie Buhrer, 16- Tom Symonds, 17- George Rose, 18- James Hasson, 19- Peta Hiku.

Sydney Roosters: 1- Anthony Minichiello (C), 2- Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 3- Michael Jennings, 4- Shaun Kenny-Dowell, 5- Daniel Tupou, 6- James Maloney, 7- Mitchell Pearce, 8- Jared Warea-Hargreaves, 9- Jake Friend, 10- Sam Moa, 11- Aiden Guerra, 12- Sonny-Bill Williams, 13- Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: 14- Daniel Mortimer, 15- Mitchell Aubusson, 16- Issac Liu, 17- Dylan Napa.

Beauty and the Beast… Despite not being named, definitely expect young up starter and future Roosters captain, Boyd Cordner, and hardened veteran, Luke O’Donnell, to be playing on Sunday night. Cordner, who will be looking to cap off a stellar year that saw him play for New South Wales in State of Origin alongside being the recipient of Dally M Second Rower of the Year, will be an undoubtedly welcomed inclusion into a Roosters side searching for their first premiership since 2002. Moreover, what more could you want then former Australian and NSW forward Luke O’Donnell. When he’s not being suspended by the NRL judiciary, O’Donnell has proven his worth this season having come back from England. Expect Cordner and O’Donnell to leave their mark on this game once it is all said and done.

Brothers Unite… It was no surprise when Manly were down 14-0 last weekend against Souths with their backs against the wall that the Stewart brothers combined to put the first try on the board and instigate a comeback that brings us to today. Forget the Burgesses, the Stewart brothers are the best set of brothers in the modern day game, and daresay the best since the Johns brothers plied their worth for the Knights. Alongside the calming influence of Captain Jamie Lyon, the Stewart brothers will need to be on song if Manly are to secure their third premiership in six years.

One Man Show… The Roosters were a different side when Sonny Bill Williams went off against the Newcastle Knights last weekend. Up 34-4, the Roosters had no answer to a late Knights resurgence and a Joey Leulia brace of tries. Sonny-Bill needs to be on for the eighty minutes if the Roosters are going to outmuscle the big Manly forward-pack. Sonny Bill has made ridiculous inroads in most games he’s played this season. Sonny Bill Williams is that good and with him potentially leaving, this could be the Roosters last legitimate chance of premiership glory for quite a while.

All Cherries… Since Queensland won their eighth straight series one player has been playing like a man possessed. In a game where five surnames are hyphened, only one will stand tall in the maroon and white colours and potentially led Manly to premiership success. Something he did in his debut season. Daly Cherry-Evans is this man. Deservingly in the top two lines of betting for Clive Churchill Medal, Cherry-Evans has lead the side from the forefront the entire season and must continue to do so this game. Third in Dally M polling after 26 rounds, Cherry-Evans is the main man for Manly in their quest for another premiership.

Tip… Arguably, the Roosters have had the easiest road out of any club to a Grand Final in a long time. Regardless of their 4-0 victory over Manly three weeks ago, the Roosters have since had the week off and taken down an exhausted Newcastle Knights side coming out of two tough encounters. Alternatively, since the Roosters game, Manly have battled their way through draining games against Cronulla and a fast-starting South Sydney side. Roosters should win, if they don’t they would have well and truly choked. Manly are by far the more fatigued side coming into this game but don’t let it fool you into thinking that they will be easy pickings for the Roosters. Their experience will simply not allow it.

Manly by 4

Clive Churchill Medal: Daly Cherry-Evans

First Try Scorer: Brett Stewart or Aidan Guerra

Who really cares about the modern day KKK?

Kanye & Kim: We’re laughing at you, not with you

By Erratic Eddy

You’re reading this because you thought I was supporting the KKK movement, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacy. Let’s make it clear, I definitely do NOT support the Ku Klux Klan.

The modern day KKK phenomenon that I’m talking about is the latest craze over Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s new baby, whose name supposedly begins with K as well. Whoop-de-doo!

This KKK phenomenon brings two questions to mind:

  1. Why is this news? And;
  2. Why do people care so much?

I don’t care for the Kardashians. They’re famous for being famous and their show is beyond terrible. Kanye, ironically, got himself a gold digger.

However, don’t think for a second I am blaming this phenomenon on Kanye and Kim. It is the trash media of today that presupposes that society wants to read it. The only purpose trash media serves in my life is making the wait in the doctor’s surgery lounge less boring.

Trash media must think I care about what’s happening at Buckingham Palace, who man-whore John Mayer is sexting now and which poor bastard Taylor Swift is writing a song about on her next album. The worst thing about it is that many people absolutely love it.

Is it to pass the time and escape the boring lives of your own? Probably. Yet surely there are other avenues of escaping your day-to-day life then checking up on Jennifer Aniston’s biological clock every week.

Maybe, just maybe, you could watch the real news and get a real view of the world.

Then again, you’re probably too busy watching Jersey Shore to even read this.

2013 NRL Season Preview: Melbourne Storm

By Brady Foray Writers

If there’s one thing the Melbourne Storm proved in 2012 it was that they are in fact human…and they still won the competition. Starting the year all guns blazing, winning their first nine games, their year turned sour quickly following their second bye and the end of the State of Origin series. With Billy Slater injured the club lost five games in a row, something unheard from a Melbourne side over the past couple of years. Though as soon as their bearings were established, with a rampant performance over Penrith in Round 22, Melbourne wouldn’t lose again in 2012.

While Dane Nielson, Sika Manu, Richie Fa’aoso, Rory Kostjasyn, Todd Lowrie, Jaiman Lowe and Anthony Quinn have moved on, the club has a knack of filling these gaps quickly and moving past any deficit in the squad. This can be attributed to obviously the big three in Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk. These three are the reason Melbourne will finish with the minor premiership this season. No stats are needed, their class alone and the club’s ability to adapt to Craig Bellamy’s game plans quickly is the reason while you’ll see the Melbourne Storm perched on top of the table come the final whistle of round 26.

Signings: Junior Sau (Knights), Junior Moors (Tigers), Lagi Setu (Broncos), Brett Finch (Wigan), Tim Glasby (Central Queensland Capras), Kurt Mann (Knights)

Departures: Brayden Wiliame (Eels), Dane Nielsen (Warriors), Sika Manu (Panthers), Luke Kelly (Eels, mid-season),  Richie Fa’aoso (Sea Eagles), Rory Kostjasyn (Cowboys), Todd Lowrie (Warriors), Michael Greenfield (Retired), Jaiman Lowe (Retired), Anthony Quinn (Knights), Shea Moylan (Wynnum-Manly)

Key to Success:

When you hear the words “The Big Three” (pictured right) in Rugby League circles you automatically think of three men. Whether for Australia, QLD or Melbourne: Slater, Smith and Cronk are essential. When together on the paddock last season they won 90.5% of their games for Melbourne, contributing 28 tries and 65 try-assists. Without one of them on the field the whole team struggles. For the Storm to become the first team to go back-to-back for first time since 1993, they need this trio to be fit, firing and healthy for the seasons entire.

Player to Watch:

Not much was known about young back-rower Tohu Harris. A graduate of the Melbourne under 20’s competition, Harris (pictured left) strapped on the boots last week at Headingly to take down the Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Challenge, scoring a brilliant try in the process. Named to start for the Melbourne this week against the Dragons, most NRL fans will get their first proper look at Harris. Soon enough it will be known how much of an impact Harris will make in the NRL this season. Watch this space.

Erratic Eddy says:

“Eddy can’t stand Melbourne. Too many Queenslanders, however, if the Storm is to go back-to-back then Eddy won’t help but feel happy for veteran Jason Ryles. The former NSW and Australian representative missed out on the grand final last year. Let’s hope he can finally win that elusive premiership ring he’s been busting his arse for since the ‘choking’ era of the Dragons.”

Strongest 17: 1- Billy Slater 2- Matthew Duffie 3- Gareth Widdop 4-Will Chambers 5- Sisa Waqa 6- Brett Finch 7- Cooper Cronk 8-Jesse Bromwich 9- Cameron Smith (C) 10- Bryan Norrie 11- Ryan Hoffman 12-Tohu Harris 13- Ryan Hinchcliffe Interchange: 14- Kevin Proctor 15- Jason Ryles 16- Lagi Setu 17- Junior Moors 18th Man: Justin O’Neill.

Predicted Position: 1st

…and the clock has hit zero. The off-season is done for another year. The unpredictability of the NRL will leave fans guessing all year. Over the course of writing these previews the Ben Barba scandal has come to fruition and only today have ASADA seized control of the Cronulla Sharks 2013 fortunes with rumours rife that up to 14 players could be facing two-year suspensions. Rugby league is a controversial game and don’t we love it. Come that first whistle, all will be forgotten, everything will be on the line. The footy is back baby. Get Keen!

2013 NRL Season Preview: South Sydney Rabbitohs

By Brady Foray Writers

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have made the finals 49 times. They have won 20 premierships out of 33 grand final appearances. Last season was the first time Souths have made the semis since 2007. Before that, they hadn’t made the finals since their 1989 minor premiership success.

2012 was a turning point in the history of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and if it wasn’t for a torn hamstring to influential halfback Adam Reynolds in the first half of their preliminary final loss to the Bulldogs last season, the South Sydney Rabbitohs could’ve made it grand final number 34.

Under the tutelage of Michael McGuire, the Rabbitohs had their best season in decades, this including a six-game winning streak between Rounds 17 & 22. Souths would manage to win 17 of their 27 games last year. While the club have lost cruicial forwards Dave Taylor (Titans), Eddy Pettybourne (Tigers) and Scott Geddes (retired), the club have managed to entice Jeff Lima, Ben Te’o and Thomas Burgess to replace them. Beau Champion and Bryson Goodwin have also come to Redfern in hope of busting into an already explosive backline. It’s going to be a massive year for the Rabbitohs.

Signings: Jeff Lima (Wigan), Ben Te’o (Broncos), Mitchell Bucket (Sunshine Coast), Thomas Burgess (Bradford), Bryson Goodwin (Bulldogs), Beau Champion (Titans)

Departures: Eddy Pettybourne (Tigers), Dave Taylor (Titans), Scott Geddes (retired), James Roberts (Panthers), Adrian Ha’angana (Rugby Union), Fetuli Talanoa, Ryan Carr, Neccrom Areaiiti, Blake Judd, Brendan McKinnon, Curtis Johnston (all released)

Key to Success:

On first count, the South Sydney Rabbitohs first grade squad contains a minimum of seven internationals. None of these men are the key to the success that the Rabbitohs season hinges on. The man the club’s premiership hopes lay on is one with 27 games to his name, halfback Reynolds. 22-year-old Reynolds will look at season 2013 to dispel himself of any second-year-syndrome speculation and build on what the Bunnies started last year. The Indigenous All-Star representative managed 17 try assists last season while also contributing 208 points himself to the Rabbitohs’ cause.

Player to Watch:

Jeff Lima has done a lot in a short amount of time. Even before playing his 100th NRL game, Lima has won two NRL premierships with Melbourne, a Challenge Cup with the Wigan Warriors, the Brent Todd medal for Man of the Match in the same Challenge Cup final and six Tests for New Zealand. Lima returns to the NRL this season to reunite with his former Wigan mentor Michael McGuire at South Sydney. Look for Lima to add an abundance of grunt to an already brilliant forward pack. Lima is a brilliant pick-up for the Bunnies as they look to win the premiership for the first time in over forty years.

Erratic Eddy says:

“I wonder if Tom and George Burgess can even play footy or they’re just here to keep Sam Burgess happy. Having all four brothers at the club, while nice for family morale, may not be the smartest move when it comes to retaining up-and-coming talent. Time will tell.”

Strongest 17: 1- Greg Inglis 2- Nathan Merritt 3- Matt King 4- Beau Champion 5- Andrew Everingham 6- John Sutton 7- Adam Reynolds 8- Roy Asotasi 9- Issac Luke 10- Sam Burgess 11- Chris McQueen 12- Ben Te’o 13- Michael Crocker (C) Interchange: 14- Nathan Peats 15- Jason Clark 16- Luke Burgess 17- Jeff Lima 18th Man: Ben Lowe.

Predicted Position: 2nd

2013 NRL Season Preview: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

By Brady Foray Writers

Des Hasler came to the Bulldogs last season in controversial circumstances but nonetheless with a plan. He might have put the “I’m here to make the club competitive” shield up but behind the scenes he was working tirelessly, trying to crack the code behind the Bulldogs’ premiership hopes.

He almost succeeded. The Bulldogs came agonising close, winning the minor-premiership in the process, before going down 14-4 in the grand final to Melbourne.

The club managed to win five from 10 in the opening stages of the competition but wouldn’t lose again until Round 25.

The old saying: You have to lose one to win one has never rang truer for the Bulldogs this season. Though with James Graham suspended until Round 10 and Ben Barba out for an indefinite amount of time; the beginning of 2013 could be rocky for the Bulldogs.

The loss of the Dogs’ two main stars of last season may be lessened with the emergence of a T-Rex stomping around out Belmore way. Tony Williams could be just the man to solidify the Dogs another premiership. The Dogs could be just what the doctor ordered for Williams as he looks to maintain much-needed consistency – something the Origin and Australian representative has never quite been able to manage throughout his career.

Signings: Tony Williams (Manly) (pictured left)

Departures: Bryson Goodwin (Rabbitohs), David Stagg (Broncos), James Gavet (Tigers), Luke MacDougall (retired), Sione Kite (Widnes, mid-season), Jonathan Wright (Sharks), Jake Foster (Raiders), Michael Lett (Illawarra Cutters, mid-season), Tupou Sopoaga (Sharks), Corey Payne (retired)

Key to Success:

22 tries, 23 try assists, 122.6 metres averaged per game, 27 line-breaks and 171 tackle-breaks. Maybe now, for those who may struggle (for whatever stupid reason they hold) with the concept of Barba being the 2012 Dally M Player of the Year will realise how influential the man can be. While he is on ice at the moment, dealing with his off-field demons, Barba is the most influential man on the paddock and the obvious key to success for the Bulldogs this season. Let us hope he gets back on the field sooner rather than later, for the sake of the Bulldogs and NRL fans alike.

Player to Watch:

At 19 years old, he still has one more year of Under 20s but how much time he will see of the Holden Cup this season is yet to be determined. First grade beckons for boom prop David Klemmer. Judged as the Toyota Cup Player of the Year last season, Klemmer (pictured right), an already accomplished NSW and Australian representative schoolboy, will look to fill the breach left by suspended James Graham and injured Sam Kasiano. Remember the name.

Erratic Eddy says:

“What do you get when you combine Cranky Franky and T-Rex in the back-row? A sore everything. That’s what every single NRL player will saying when they go toe-to-toe with this destructive duo. Get the ice ready…lots of it.”

“It is nice to see that loyalty is still strong in the younger generations. David Klemmer, a superstar in the making was having the dollars thrown at him by the Knights but low and behold Klemmer stuck strong and has all but re-signed with the Doggies. Congratulations, David.”

Strongest 17: 1- Ben Barba 2- Steve Turner 3-Josh Morris 4- Krisnan Inu 5- Sam Perrett 6- Josh Reynolds 7- Kris Keating 8- Aiden Tolman 9- Michael Ennis (C) 10- Sam Kasiano 11- Frank Pritchard 12-Tony Williams 13- Greg Eastwood Interchange: 14- James Graham 15- Josh Jackson 16- Dale Finucane 17- Dene Halatau 18th Man: David Klemmer.

Predicted Position: 3rd*

*Established before Ben Barba’s suspension. Too hard to change and re-establish new positions

2013 NRL Season Preview: North Queensland Cowboys

By Brady Foray Writers

If it wasn’t for dubious refereeing in the second week of finals last season then who knows where the Cowboys would’ve ended up. 2012 was a year where the Cowboys finally showed some season-to-season consistency after reaching the finals for the second-straight time. Not to be outdone, the Cowboys have the potential to make it a treble of finals appearances in 2013.

2012 was the year of James Tamou at the Cowboys. Their roster this season is relatively unchanged barring the losses of hooker duo Aaron Payne (retired) and James Segeyaro (Penrith). Moving north this season (or south, depending on who you talking about) is Rory Kostjasyn (Storm), young hopeful Curtis Rona (Roosters), English international Scott Moore (Huddersfield) and Clint Greenshields who returns to the NRL after six seasons at the Catalans.

You talk about underdogs or dark horses in a competition. Some may say Cronulla, Newcastle and Raiders have this tag going into season 2013. For us, at the Brady Foray, we believe the Cowboys are deserving holders. Look at their squad, their experience and the combinations. 2013 could be the year of the Cowboy.

Signings: Rory Kostjasyn (Storm), Curtis Rona (Roosters), Clint Greenshields (Catalans), Scott Moore (Huddersfield)

Departures: James Segeyaro (Panthers), Cory Paterson (Hull KR), Aaron Payne (Retired), Moses Pangai (Panthers), Dane Hogan (Easts Tigers), Luke Harlen (Released), Ben Jones (Roosters)

Key to Success:

Most teams in the NRL have one player they are certainly better off with than without. For North Queensland this player and thus the teams’ key to success is Queensland and Australian five-eighth Johnathan Thurston. 79 tackle-breaks, 11 line-breaks and 24 try assists sums up his class. Thurston is the lynchpin to the Cowboys 2013 premiership winning hopes

Player to Watch:

With Payne retiring and Segeyaro moving to the Panthers, the Cowboys were left with a void to fill in at hooker. Scott Moore, who debuted in the Super League at 16, has been touted as this man. A Super League journeyman, Moore was named Hooker of Year in 2009. If he keeps his rumoured attitude in check then he shall be quite the find for the Cowboys this season.

Erratic Eddy says:

“Clint Greenshields returns to the NRL for the Cowboys this season after a long stint in France. Let’s hope he doesn’t repeat last year’s efforts at the Catalans when he went on a Twitter rant about how a referee was a ‘knob’. He was only suspended for a couple of days by the Catalans but imagine if he had done it in Australia. He would’ve copped weeks.”

Strongest 17: 1-Matthew Bowen 2-Ashley Graham 3- Brent Tate 4- Kane Linnett 5-Antonio Winterstein 6- Jonathan Thurston (C) 7-Michael Morgan 8- Matthew Scott (C) 9-Scott Moore 10-James Tamou 11-Tariq Sims 12- Gavin Cooper 13- Dallas Johnson Interchange: 14- Rory Kostjasyn 15- Jason Taumalolo 16- Ashton Sims 17Glen Hall. 18th Man: Scott Bolton.

Predicted Position: 4th

2013 NRL Season Preview: Manly-Waringah Sea Eagles

By Brady Foray Writers

The Sea Eagles squawked into 2012 with a premiership under their wings and with confidence they could go back-to-back. While they looked every bit of a premiership-winning side for the majority of last season when it came to crunch time, the team never lived up to expectations. Losing to the Bulldogs in the first week of the finals, the Sea Eagles were lucky to escape with victory against the Cowboys the week after. Their preliminary final against the Melbourne Storm was a different story. The trophy they had high hopes of holding on to was snatched from them by the Storm in thrashing fashion.

While the Sea Eagles have lost internationals Dean Whare, Tony Williams and forward duo Darcy Lussick and Daniel Harrison the squad is relatively unchanged. Their depth is as strong as it has been in years thanks to the signings of Richie Fa’aoso, Brenton Lawrence, David Gower, Esi Tonga, Kayne Lawton and Justin Horo. Expect a big year from the Sea Eagles; it may be their last hurrah for quite a while yet. Age is a fickle enemy for aging veterans Lyon, Watmough, Matai, King, Kite, Ballin and the Stewart brothers.

Signings: Michael Chee Kam (Raiders), Richie Fa’aoso (Melbourne Storm), Ligi Sao (Warriors), James Hasson (Sharks), Ben Musolino (Dragons), Brenton Lawrence (Titans), Dane Chisholm (Wests Tigers), Jacob Gagan (Eels NYC), David Gower (Dragons), Peta Hiku (Warriors NYC), Jesse Sene-Lefao (Panthers), Kayne Lawton (Titans), Esi Tonga (Eels), Justin Horo (Eels), Jamil Hopoate (Eels), Blake Harrison (Eels), Tim Robinson (released), Tom Symonds (Roosters)

Departures: Dean Whare (Panthers), Tony Williams (Bulldogs), Darcy Lussick (Eels), Daniel Harrison (Eels), Michael Oldfield (Roosters), Josh Drinkwater (Dragons), Liam Foran, Vic Mauro (Salford)

Key to Success:

What is the Sea Eagles without their inspirational co-captain, Jamie Lyon? The answer: an absolute shamble. The Sea Eagles can attribute many of the successes to Lyon (pictured left) over the past few seasons. When on song, Lyon is the deadliest centre in the competition. In 2012, Lyon scored 190 of his team’s points alongside his averaged 75 metres per game, his 55 tackle breaks, seven line breaks and 18 try assists (more than both halves Cherry-Evans and Foran, individually).

Player to Watch:

Jorge Taufua had a ridiculous first foray into the first grade arena in 2012. Taufua solidified his position in the team early in the season and never left. Taufua, who crossed the white stripe 10 times in his rookie season, went so well he was determined Man of the Match in the Sea Eagles’ finals win over North Queensland. Barring his try-scoring escapades, Taufua managed to average 142 metres on a weekly basis and break over 100 tackles. Let’s hope second year syndrome doesn’t affect this freak of nature.

Erratic Eddy says:

“Apart from Penrith and Cronulla, the Sea Eagles have signed brilliantly this season. While most that have signed on will not be first picked for the first grade side, what they have done for their depth is exceptional. Names like Lawrence, Horo, Gower, Tonga and Lawton while not known as regular first-graders can only help the club if they are to fall on hard times.”

“Four clubs in the space of a year. That is the reality Richie Fa’aoso is facing this year after leaving the Newcastle Knights, signing with the Melbourne Storm….whose feeder side is the Cronulla Sharks. Now he’s at the Sea Eagles in surely unprecedented circumstances.”

Strongest 17: 1-Brett Stewart 2- Jorge Taufua 3- Jamie Lyon (C) 4- Steve Matai 5- David Williams 6- Kieran Foran 7-Daly Cherry-Evans 8- Jason King 9- Matt Ballin 10- Brett Kite 11- Anthony Watmough 12- Jamie Buhrer 13- Glenn Stewart Interchange: 14- Ben Farrar 15- Joe Galuvao 16- Richie Fa’aoso 17- Brenton Lawrence 18th Man: George Rose.

Predicted Position: 5th