One glance at the NRL ladder provides all the evidence you need to deduce that this year’s competition has a bit of an issue.
While it’s important not to get too carried away after just six rounds of football, it’s equally worth noting that the competition seems a bit lopsided this season. And that’s before I even mention that I can’t see anyone taking the premiership away from the Melbourne Storm unless the club suffers some notable injuries.
Though I appreciate that it’s far too early in the season to making such a drastic call, the truth is that the rest of the clubs are not in the Storm’s class, and if the boys from Melbourne play to their potential, everyone else is competing for second place.
In fact most of the teams already outside the eight have shown very little to suggest they’re worthy of making the finals, or that they will be little else but week one fodder if they do.
The Canberra Raiders have had some off-field issues in the form of Josh Dugan’s axing, along with some injury concerns, but their play on the park has been by far their biggest concern.
The club had a very strong second half of the year last season and ended up making the finals, so I’m not going to kill their chances outright. But they certainly need to improve quickly or else 2013 will slip away from them.
The New Zealand Warriors are two years removed from the grand final, and have only lost a few players from that squad. Yet you’d be a brave man to bet on them repeating their 2011 accomplishments.
Their defence can be nothing short of disgraceful, their spacing just as horrible, and their attack stagnant at times.
Shaun Johnson is going to have to reach deep into his box of tricks if this team is going to do anything but reminisce about past glories.
The Parramatta Eels own coach, Ricky Stuart, has predicted more drubbings this season like the 50-0 humiliation at the hands of the Sydney Roosters.
When the coach predicts his own team is likely to suffer more heavy defeats, it’s probably a sign that that club won’t be hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.
St George Illawarra were a popular pick for the wooden spoon, which provides you with everything you need to know about the big red V’s premiership hopes, even if they currently are sitting in eighth spot.
The fact that every bad boy from Josh Dugan to Kurtley Beale is linked to the club demonstrates how desperate this team is for some talent.
Penrith have been somewhat impressive. They’ve played with a lot of passion, energy and determination, and what they’ve lacked in star power, they’ve attempted to make up for with effort.
While their performances so far have been commendable, I can’t remember the last competition winner that was described in that manner, and the cold hard fact is they’ve only won one game.
The Wests Tigers have too much talent to ever completely count out, but – and let me know if you’ve heard this before – they need to improve their defence, and toughen up in the middle of the park.
I will always remain cautious of a team that contains the attacking skills of Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall, but they’re a long way from winning the competition.
The Bulldogs have started the season very slowly, but they’ve had injuries and off-field dramas to contend with.
I still believe that when they have their full squad healthy, and Ben Barba is 100% integrated back into the game plans, that they will be a good football side that can challenge the top sides in the NRL.
They’ve dug themselves quite a hole to get out of, and Tony Williams has been terrible.
The Cowboys haven’t begun their 2013 campaign strongly either, but like the Bulldogs, they have too much talent to be stuck in the bottom half of the ladder for too long.
Johnathan Thurston is arguably the best player in the competition, and I think North Queensland will return to their rightful position in the top eight very soon.
Depending on what happens with the ASADA investigation, and whether or not players are suspended, the Cronulla Sharks will either sneak into the finals or get the wooden spoon.
Even if their playing squad isn’t decimated anytime soon, the emotional toll of the drama is already taking effect, something coach Shane Flanagan readily admitted after the team’s loss to the Eels.
The Roosters have been very, very good, especially in defence, but they’ve had a pretty easy schedule so far. I think we’ll learn more about them when they face the tops teams in the competition.
I’ve been very impressed with the way the Broncos have played at times this season.
I think the halves partnership of Peter Wallace and Scott Prince is potentially a dynamic, game winning combination. They’ve got a strong forward pack and an exciting backline. They do have a propensity to run out of gas in the second half, but if they can improve their game fitness, I see them as a premiership smokey.
However, I still can’t see the Storm losing, and I only rate Manly and Souths as being worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Melbourne. But even those two are behind the Storm in my eyes.
It certainly doesn’t feel like the even competition that the NRL likes to boast about. has this guy watched the tigers this season the defence is just above average which was better the last years woeful and our attack is woeful which is worst then last years average.
LOL these guys are clueless. Our problem is not our defense, it is our attack. We struggle to score points even with Benji and Farah. Our defense is not the best but it has been reasonable overall, particularly down the middle (our big weakness is the flanks and most due to Lawrence/Miller/Teddy).