Gold Coast Titans
Last season saw the Titans finish with 11 wins 1 draw and 12 losses. The Titans proved that building their club on hardnosed football with a coach they believe in can provide results.
Gold Coast has bolstered its forward stocks with the additions of Wallace and Proctor, both of who had great season for their respective clubs. The Titan’s main losses come in the backs. Losing Mead, Hoffman and Macdonald will hurt them. The new look backline should include a Hayne plane that’s more in tune with his teammates, Don, Sarginson (a very versatile back), Hurrell and Nathan Davis/Daniel Vidot.
A slight drop off overall, but with Hayne improving, Zillman available for selection, and Elgey coming back from injury I see benefits coming with this group playing together throughout the season.
With a good engine room in the forwards, a healthy spine and Hayne to mentor the backs I don’t see much of a backwards step being taken this year.
Play: Gold Coast Titans Over 11.5 wins
New Zealand Warriors
New Zealand finished the 2016 season with 10 wins and 14 losses. This team perennially gets their total wins set too high for my liking. The Warriors haven’t made the top 8 in 5 years and 14 wins, which would put them in 6th isn’t something I’d want to be putting my money on.
Speaking from experience, tearing your ACL is a devastating injury to try and come back from. RTS won’t be the same player he once was especially given his quick and cutting style of play. Integrating Foran back into the line up won’t be easy and there are already reports that Lolohea is unhappy because of his shift back to the wing. Players such as Mannering and Lillyman are getting to the back end of their careers and wont pack the same punch they once had.
New Zealand could take some time to fit in to new coach Stephen Kearney’s playing style. I think Kearney will be a good thing for the Warriors in the long terms, but the growing pains might stunt their attempt at hitting their win total.
Are the Warriors going to be 4 wins better than last year? Doubt it. Take the under with the Warriors season win total.
Play: New Zealand Warriors Under 13.5
The Raiders finished 2016 with 17 wins, 1 draw and 6 losses. I don’t see this team having gotten worse by 5 wins in the offseason, not by an absolute country mile.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this number. The Raiders proved all throughout last year that they were the real deal. They played smart football on the back of a devastating forward pack. Their main losses were Fensom and Vaughn, Both brilliant players yet neither could crack the best 17 of the club last year.
Crocker being injured is a letdown for the club. However, the likes of Wighton, Lee, Leilua and Rapana with a strong spine in Sezer, Austin and Hodgson can more that compensate for the loss.
The one knock on this club, is their lack of big game experience. Well realistically, that factors in during the finals. You don’t need much big game experience in the regular season. This play should be the closest thing to a lock on offer in the win markets.
Play: Canberra Raiders Over 12.5 wins
By Nik Hatzi