It’s great to be back in Oddschecker colours for the 2017 season! On face value it looks an extremely open competition this year, and whilst I hope my beloved Sharks can do the business back-to-back, they will have their work cut out. It is as open as I have ever seen it.
I am going to go through all the sides and see if we can find a few betting angles that can line the pockets come early October. There is a lot of water to pass under the bridge, trial form can often be worthless, and injuries will play a big part as they do every season.
I am going to start at the bottom and work my way up.
BIG MARN’S VIEW ON WHO CANNOT WIN THE PREMIERSHIP
Let’s get stuck in. First team I am potting for the season are the CANTERBURY BULLDOGS ($23.0). I cannot see them winning it. I really didn’t like what I saw last year and one look at their signings, it doesn’t look enough to fix the problem. Dessy will be under incredible pressure as they demand success at the Dogs, if they don’t start well then there will be real issues. For mine the Dogs will struggle to even make the 8. Sportsbet are $1.62 the Dogs not to make the 8 and this might interest some punters who see it a better investment than leaving it in an old savings account earning 0.71% interest!
It is easy to pot 100-1 shots like the ST GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS, but I just don’t know what is going on there at Kogarah. Their fullback is unhappy at being asked to take a considerable pay cut, they lack creativity around the halves with half-back being a real problem for them and you just have to put a line through them. I simply cannot have the Dragons at all, and they are blessed to have such talent in Frizzell keeping the scoreline respectable in 2017.
Last year’s wooden spooners NEWCASTLE,have signed a few handy players in Buhrer, Tupou, Starling and Kostjasyn bulking up their depth and experience. Whilst I expect them to have a better year than last year, I just can’t see them getting off the bottom of the table. They quite simply aren’t good enough to consistently beat these other sides whom seem to be a level above them. I hate to say it because I love the club and the passion of the people, I love the coach who is a fantastic bloke but I think they are in for a long season. They look a lock for the wooden spoon. You can make 60% on your money taking the $1.60 about a $1.10 chance. You just need to ride out the season.
There is a team sitting high in the betting calculations around the $12 mark and I just have to pot them. The NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS. How good do they look on paper? How often does this paper talent get reflected on the field? They have a fabulous core of players but they just don’t seem to have the mentality to win it. I cannot see the Warriors winning 3 or 4 matches on the bounce against the top sides away from home to take the spoils come semi-final time. Just won’t happen. They need to show greater consistency and until they do this, I am prepared to write them off. They are way under the odds. All bookies should be running them as a big red liability this season.
Another side whom I think can improve a little bit but cannot win the title are the MANLY SEA EAGLES ($29.0). There has been a revolving door on the peninsula, with names like Lyon, Symonds, Starling, Buhrer, Mateo, Stewart and Matai exiting. They have picked up some good players in Blake Green and Curtis Sironen, but overall it is going to be a battle for the most despised club in the comp. Brookvale – or Lottoland as it is now known – isn’t the fortress it once was, but I do expect some improvement this season. Making the 8 might be a bit far-fetched with depth a real issue. The Trbojevic boys are absolute guns and could really shine this year but any injuries to key personnel will hit them hard.
The WESTS TIGERS ($31.0) have the potential to make the 8 this season but have to have their best players on the paddock. They lack a bit of depth, Idris is back but who knows what will happen there, Simona is out indefinitely as well, no Farah around the place could be a huge positive or negative – time will tell. I am not convinced they have the firepower in the forwards despite the presence of Wood, to do it week in, week out. So it will be a struggle for them to make the 8.
THE REMAINING 10 TEAMS – ALL CAN WIN IT, ITS AS OPEN AS I HAVE EVER SEEN IT
This competition is as open as I have ever seen it. Yep I have ruled a line through 6 or so sides, but there are 10 whom can genuinely take the title this season. So much will depend on injuries and form at key moments, but each of these sides below have the cattle and class to emulate the Sharks from last year.
I have a message out there for all the punters – tread warily early on in the season. I have learnt from my mistakes because I have made them in the past: 2016 form doesn’t necessarily correlate with the start of the 2017 season. Early season form can be really difficult to weigh up, new combinations coupled with early season rustiness and fitness. Can make it a bit of a punting minefield.
I am going to dive straight into a team who I am going to definitely have something on, as they represent great value and look cherry ripe to give this competition a huge shake this season. The GOLD COAST TITANS ($26.0 best price) . The Gold Coast showed what they could do last season breaking Cronulla’s winning run, causing many headaches for various teams playing a structure of football that is going to serve them well in 2017. Some excellent signings like Kevin Proctor, Jarrod Wallace and the pommy Joe Greenwood, coupled with Kane Elgey being back after injury, and The Hayne Plane having a full pre-season under his belt, it looks good for the glitter strip mob.
There is a good rap on this Greenwood kid. I really do love these pommys that come over because most of them are pretty good players. They come over for the right reasons as they want to prove themselves in the NRL. You add this to the experience of semi-final footy last year, destabilizing influences leaving the club in the off-season, a very strong halves combination with tough forwards and impact off the bench, they are in with a decent tilt at massive odds! In the last few seasons’ clubs who have never won the title before have saluted, so these boys should have belief they can do it. At 25-1, it is time to have something on punters!
Does everyone remember that I am a former Panthers legend? Good, just checking in case it comes up at a trivia night or something. Speaking of the PANTHERS, they are well found at $8.0 but they deserve to be at the head of a wide bunch here. I was speaking to Gus Gould the other day and the average age of this Panthers side is 23! Things are looking very bright for the chocolate soldiers who are – and will be – a very good young side. The key is the added experience they have. Adding James Tamou to their roster is a huge in for them on top of some handy signings like Mitch Rein, Darren Nicholls and Tim Browne.
The youth isn’t more evident than in the Panthers half-back Nathan Cleary. I think he will be a long term NSW State Of Origin half-back, if not this year, definitely in the next year or so. I can see him playing Origin for 10 years. Moylan has stamped himself as a top quality player amongst a sea of good backs at Penrith. This is a luxury for them, as most sides can often find depth in the forwards, but not in the backs. These boys deserve to be premiership favourites, whether they win it or not is another thing, but they tick many boxes. They will push seriously hard for top 4. Definitely worth a punt on them as part of an outright betting strategy for 2017.
Switching focus to the CANBERRA RAIDERS they were only a dropped ball away from the Grand Final last season and they played a brilliant brand of footy as well that catapulted them into premiership calculations. The bookies are wary and keep them a best price $10.0. I am just not too sure how to weigh them up this season. They have lost some handy fringe players like Lee, Vaughan, Fensom, Waqa and Williams with only the coal train Dave Taylor a name coming the other way. The way they finished last year you would think they will be there, but like so many of these other teams, they have to do it all over again. It’s bloody hard. $10.0 is not big enough for mine to lob a few bob on, expect many teams to find it hard to win the nation’s capital though.
My beloved premiers – The CRONULLA SHARKS have a significant hurdle to overcome – they are defending premiers. It is so, so hard to go back-to-back. Things can change and change quickly. For mine the loss of hooker Michael Ennis is a massive one. This is the big question mark: Can they find the right replacement? It is very hard to replace someone of the calibre of Ennis. I think they are still chasing Segayaro, they wouldn’t have given up on that and if they can land him, then it is a massive plus for them.
The loss of Ben Barbs will be felt. He was enormous for the Sharks last season and whilst Val Holmes is an absolute gun, Barba is a loss and you can’t simply replace someone of the quality of Barba. This doesn’t rule the Sharks out of contention by any means. If they can have a good year injury-wise, then they still have solid depth to give it a shake. There is a lot against them and the $15.0 from the bookies about the defending premiers suggests as much.
Looking further afield – everyone is tipping the SYDNEY ROOSTERS. Why? They were abysmal last season. 2nd last. It will be a big form reversal and an elongated Stewards enquiry if they lob. Not saying they can’t do it, they have bought ok in the likes of Keary and Gordon but that complete disappointment of last season still runs vivid in my mind. It is a big ask for them to turn things around so dramatically – especially when they still struggled when Pearce came back into the fray for the last half of last season. I think there is a big question mark on them and if the Warriors weren’t in the comp, at $11.0, they’d be the big unders in terms of price. Some very good players were very quiet last season by their standards. That is a worry coming into 2017.
The SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS ($16.0) are a very interesting side. It’s fair to say the last few years have been bitterly disappointing since their 2014 Premiership win. However with the addition of Farah to the fray and the likes of Cook, Walker and others stepping up to be genuine first graders, they could be a bit of a surprise packet this season. They will miss Adam Reynolds early in the season but with their big slabs of English beef giving them some go forward, they will be decent improvers this season.
When looking north of the border, it is hard to think that both Brisbane and North Queensland won’t make the 8 because they will, but how will they go attempting to wrest the title from the Sharks? The BRISBANE BRONCOS seem to have a few chinks in the armour, and one is that Ben Hunt doesn’t seem to have dealt with life after the dropped ball in that magical 2015 Grand Final. It has plagued him, indeed probably forced his move next season away from the Brocs. He just doesn’t look the same player. He had a poor 2016 and needs to step right up for the Broncos to be title contenders again.
There is too much experience in the Brisbane side for them not to get to a shot-making position in post season, but the loss of Corey Parker will be felt through his inspiration and ability to lift the side. They are well found around the $12 mark, cannot tip into them but expect them to be there at the business end.
When you hear the name Thurston you simply think ‘winner’. He is the heart and soul of the NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS, whom constantly lift to another level with him calling the shots. My biggest fear is that they were absolutely belted by the Sharks in that semi-final last season and some cracks had appeared…..maybe their time has come and they are starting to fade? They are a side who never gets smashed but they did. It is like a beacon to me. There are plenty of cattle in the ranks but their big guns aren’t getting any younger. At $9.0 best price, there is no edge there and they are under the odds. They will be in the mix again this season but one or two key injuries and they are in some strife. They have to play this gun kid Ponga in the side, no point keeping him and not playing him.
Another team that seem to perennially be in the end of season calculations - MELBOURNE STORM - are up again for a tilt. However I have to call them as some hope, as opposed to a top hope. They have lost some good players in Koroibete, Proctor, Green and whilst Slater returns, things might be tough for the Storm and they look weaker on paper this season. To be brutally honest, the Storm surprise me every year but I can’t go near them at the $8.0 on offer – much prefer to be on Penrith at the same price, or even better – on the Titans at over 3 times the price! They will be competitive the Storm, how can you not be with that core of Slater, Cronk and Smith, but whilst you can’t write them off, they are unders, well unders.
Last but not least, the PARRAMATTA EELS . A club never far away from drama, they did a great job last season considering they were docked 12 points. They have been up against it off the field oin the last few seasons, but one can’t help but think that with a bit of even luck, no dramas, they could well give this comp a big shake at $19.0. They have added some good players to their roster – Vave, Brown, Hoffman, Matagi and Frank Pritchard is back also. When you add this to their strength in their forwards, and their potential superstar in Corey Norman in the backs, there is a wiff in the air that Parra might step right up in 2017. I am seeing that $5.50 is available for the Top 4, not the worst bet for some diehard Eels fans and even to make the Top 8 @ $2.25 is far better than the banks will give you. I am bullish on the Parramatta Eels, and at $19.0, you can have a few dollars on them to win it as well. They have the talent, the coach, the support.
So there you have it punters - my season in review for you all to digest, lambast, and invest. It’s really good to be back with Oddschecker and make sure you check in for my weekly tips. If you remember in 2016 it was an absolute fill up for those who followed my tips – especially my First Tryscorer selections. Proctor ($34.0), Gavin Cooper ($26.0 and $19.0), Dane Gagai ($16.0) were some of the tips landed, and look forward to getting the punters their cash in the 2017 season. Good luck and good punting!
PREMIERSHIP VALUE TIP: GOLD COAST TITANS ($26.0)
PREMIERSHIP SAVER BET 1: PENRITH PANTHERS ($8.0)
PREMIERSHIP SAVER BET 2: PARRAMATTA EELS ($19.0)
WELL UNDER THE ODDS – STEER CLEAR!!! NZ WARRIORS ($12.0)
BEAT THE FUND MANAGERS & BANK INTEREST – LONG TERM STEADY PLAYS
TO MAKE THE TOP 8 PUNT: GOLD COAST TITANS to make 8 ($2.30)
WOODEN SPOON TIP: NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS ($1.60)
TO MISS THE TOP 8: NZ WARRIORS to miss 8 ($2.25)