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

Solace at Seven: Tyrone Roberts

By Jack Brady

Scott Dureau and Luke Walsh have come and gone while Jarrod Mullen and Kurt Gidley have positioned themselves elsewhere.

It has been seven years since now immortal Andrew Johns bid adieu to the NRL and the Newcastle Knights. Ironically it has been almost that long since the Newcastle Knights last won a finals game before this season.

Here we are faced with an almost unrecognisable prospect – the Newcastle Knights in the final four of an NRL competition and if it weren’t for the guidance of 22-year-old, Tyrone Roberts, who knows where the Knights would’ve ended up

Off the back of an inspirational man-of-the-match performance against Melbourne last weekend, Roberts has led the Knights to a mouthwatering showdown against minor-premiers, the Sydney Roosters this weekend.

However, this may not have been so if Knights coach Wayne Bennett had his way a couple of weeks ago.

From all accounts, Roberts was not a happy camper when Bennett decided to give 35 year-old New South Wales and Australian representative veteran Craig Gower a contract mid-season and former Canberra halfback Michael Dobson a lifeline for 2014.

In fact, if it weren’t for Gower’s currently injured back, Roberts may not have been even in the side at the moment – a ridiculous proposition in retrospect with Gower showing nothing but his age since returning to the NRL.

Roberts has proven since that he is the man for the job.

He is now leading premiership-winning forwards Willie Mason, Danny Buderus, Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith and Neville Costigan in scintillating fashion.

Tyrone Roberts may just be the x-factor that the Newcastle Knights have been seeking since Johns’ retirement.

A twelve-year premiership drought may be rained upon by success if Tyrone Roberts has anything to do with it.

2013 NRL Season Preview: Sydney Roosters

By Brady Foray Writers

Out with the old and in with the new. 2013 will bring in a fresh outlook for the Sydney Roosters. New coach. New CEO. New captain. After the departures of coach Brian Smith and veteran Braith Anasta, the Roosters have welcomed back former assistant Trent Robinson. Alongside Robinson, the Roosters have named the well-deserving, all-time leading try scorer Anthony Minichiello as the captain of the Roosters. The club has signed Sonny-Bill Williams, James Maloney, Luke O’Donnell and James Maloney.

Starting off promisingly enough last year, the Roosters won four of their first six games. This unbuckled however, during their Round 7 clash against the Cowboys in Darwin they were thrashed 50-12 in ridiculous heat. From there, the club managed four more wins and a draw to finish 13th.

Signings: Jack Goodsell (Titans), James Maloney (Warriors), Michael Oldfield (Sea Eagles), Sam Moa (Hull FC), Sonny Bill Williams (Rugby Union), Michael Jennings (Panthers), Luke O’Donnell (Huddersfield), Ben Jones (Cowboys)

Departures: Joseph Leilua (Roosters), Braith Anasta (Tigers), Sam Perrett (Bulldogs, mid-season), Anthony Mitchell (Cowboys, mid-season), Justin Carney (Castleford), Curtis Rona (Cowboys), Peni Tagive (Retired), Mose Masoe (Panthers), Brad Takairangi (Titans), Anthony Cherrington (Roosters)

Key to Success:

New halves combination James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce must click straight away. On their individual days they can be your best player. Together though, their games could go to a whole new level. Pearce (pictured left) was outstanding in a losing team last season managing to score a club-high ten tries. Pearce averaged a whopping twenty tackles a week and assisted 23 of his team’s tries. With Maloney outside him, who managed to bust 71 tackles and set up 16 tries last season, the sky could be the limit for Pearce and the Sydney Roosters in 2013.

Player to Watch:

After re-signing with the Roosters until at least 2016 and being named in the Roosters vice-captain club, don’t expect Boyd Cordner to let all his talking be done off the field. Barely out of his teenage years, Cordner managed to play 22 games for the Roosters in 2012 where he averaged 26 tackles and 77 metres per game. His impact on the field has experts touting him as a future Roosters captain and representative player, something that could happen as soon as this season.

Erratic Eddy says:

“What’s the big deal about the return of the money hungry $BW anyway? I’m appalled that the greatest game of all is even bothering to finance his disloyalty circus. Give it this season or maybe next and he’ll head elsewhere.”

Strongest 17: 1-Anthony Minichiello (C) 2- Tautau Moga 3- Michael Jennings 4- Shaun Kenny-Dowell 5-Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 6- James Maloney 7- Mitchell Pearce 8- Jared Waerea-Hargraves 9- Jake Friend 10- Martin Kennedy 11- Aiden Guerra 12- Boyd Cordner 13- Sonny Bill-Williams. Interchange: 14- Nafe Seluini 15- Mitchell Aubusson 16- Frank Paul-Nuuausala 17- Luke O’Donnell. 18th Man: Lami Tasi.

Predicted Position: 9th