In 2013, NRLHUB will be running power rankings throughout the season but to wet your whistle, we will be doing power ranking based on where we think the teams rank coming into the 2013 pre-season. Without further ado, I present you with the first power rankings of 2013.
- Melbourne Storm
The premiers are still the team to beat even though Slater and Smith hit 30 this year. They, along with Cronk are the top tier players in the NRL. Bellamy’s ability to mold a team around their top three keeps them as a contender every year. If Luke O’Donnell joins they will be far stronger up front.
- Canterbury Bulldogs
Sydney’s top side and they will be hungry to go one better after they fell short at the hands of the Storm in 2012. Are not unbeatable but Hasler gives them a mental edge over most other teams. Will T Rex be a help or hindrance to the Dogs title chances?
- North Qld Cowboys
The team most likely to win and break an 18 year premiership drought. Strong across the park and in key areas, are unstoppable. Best front row in the NRL and will be unbeatable at home. Bowen is stilly quality and Thurston is in a contract year so look out NRL.
- South Sydney Rabbitohs
Had a great year under Michael Maguire in 2012 and should be there when the whips are cracking. Have lost Dave Taylor to the Titans and Luke Burgess is out for six months with a shoulder injury. The Bunnies welcome Beau Champion back into the centres, their biggest weakness. Sam Burgess should continue to improve in 2013 and Adam Reynolds is the key to success.
- Canberra Raiders
It’s an odd year which usually means the Raiders don’t make the top eight. However, the Raiders are a team with a bit more experience now and if Terry Campese can come back fully fit, they are a legitimate title threat. They have no glaring weakness and have big, fast backs. If they can solve their dummy half issue by moving Josh McCrone into the number 9, they can go all the way. Were the only team to towel up last years grand finalists by 28 points…each.
- Cronulla Sharks
Plenty of new recruits brings hope to the shire. If the new boys gel quickly and fire, the Sharks are a top four team, especially with Carney back to full fitness. This also means Gallen will be able to rest for 21 seconds per game, saving him for Origin.
- Sydney Roosters
Hard to know what we will get with the Roosters, but they have the star power with SBW and Jennings alone. Every other team will be gunning for the Chooks in 2013. How they respond will determine their fate. SBW will have a target on his back every game.
- Manly Sea Eagles
A quality side on the decline. Have been elite for a long time now but their big name players are all getting on in years and that with the loss of T Rex will hinder their forward pack’s ability to dominate other sides. It’s a domino effect from there and they may scrape into the bottom of the eight.
- Newcastle Knights
Most people are tipping big things from the Knights in 2013 with Jeremy Smith and Beau Scott joining the club, but there are still some big ??? to be answered. Is Mullen the long term solution and what effect will Gidley’s return have on the Knights? They look strong on paper and should make the eight, but will the weight of expectation be too much for the Knights to carry? Only time will tell.
- Gold Coast Titans
The Titans have a decent looking side on paper but winning away from home will be their biggest challenge. That and getting Dave Taylor to play like a forward for a change. The meat pie business on the coast should boom with Idris and Taylor both looking record amounts of consumption in 2013. A positive for the Titans is the loss of Scott Prince.
- Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos fall from grace will continue in 2013 and I don’t see much to be excited about. They backed in to the 2012 finals but I don’t think they’ll be given that luxury this year. They are solid without being spectacular in any position and Peter Wallace is no braveheart so I think they’ll miss the eight this year and Prince will only amplify their woes in the halves.
- New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors welcome Matt Elliott which means Brad Drew will be coming out of retirement to guide the Warriors to premiership glory! Seriously, the Warriors had a disastrous 2012 and I don’t see too much changing in 2013.
- Wests Tigers
I do not rate this team at all, which means they will probably win the premiership. A forward pack that is undersized and will miss the leadership of Gareth Ellis and rely heavily on Aaron Woods to do the hard yards has me thinking the Tigers are one injury away from the wooden spoon in 2013.
- Penrith Panthers
A team in rebuilding so don’t expect too much this year. Next year and beyond, the Panthers of a bygone era may re-emerge under Gus and with plenty of money to spend, I know the Panthers won’t be out of contention for long.
- St George Illawarra Dragons
Lean times for the Dragons after winning a premiership three seasons ago. Bennett is nothing but a memory now and the Dragons have lost a plethora of experience over the past two seasons and have question marks all over the park. Matt Cooper is playing for his super and Soward for an overseas contract in 2014. Bronson Harrison has arrived from the Raiders and will add little to a mediocre forward pack. Tough times for the Dragons as they continue to rebuild.
- Parramatta Eels
Last year wooden spooners know the only way is up and have recruited Ricky Stuart to turn their fortunes around. Will he be able to take the Eels from the cellar to respectability? They have a weak forward pack and questions still remain over their halves. If they did not have Jarryd Hayne, they would be lucky to win six games all year.