By Nik Hatzi
The Cowboys are equal favourites to make the top four with the Storm and Panthers in close company. However, I strongly believe the Cowboys are in for another deep run. The Addition of Fensom will help stabilise the forward pack after the departure of James Tamou. Adding Ponga to an already potent backline will offer more firepower for the Cowboys to utilise.
Thurston still has petrol in the tank and Morgan was banged up in 2016. I look for the Cowboys to find their groove and challenge for the Minor Premiership come September.
There are a couple of criteria I look to use when I’m considering who to back in the Dally M race. First, is the player’s team good and will they be a contender; Canberra Raiders should be in the top 4 and after the big game experience gained last year, we can tick that off.
Secondly, is the player a part of the spine (1,6,7,9); Spine players touch the ball and influence the game the most. As such, they tend to get recognized the most. Hodgson as a Hooker has the enviably role of coordinating that bruising Raiders forward-pack. He will be having a big influence in the direction and outcome of the games.
Finally, Is the player known enough to get the Dally M votes; Hodgson wasn’t on many people’s radars last year. After steering Canberra as far as he did, he will definitely be worth some consideration moving forward. Hodgson will be closely considered when the Raiders are victorious which should be often this season.
He isn’t a bad roughie to be backing at the high odds
Much the same reasons as why Hodgson would be a great roughie for the Dally M Medal, these two class acts split rightful honors in being up there in the betting market. Both these legends are previous winners and have great packs around them to help them succeed.
Both the Storm and Cowboys should be there contending come the end of the season and as such barring an injury riddled season Thurston and Cronk should be given serious consideration for the Award.
Thurston – controls a great forward pack, lynchpin playmaker, orchestrator of many tries and last but not least generally an all-round good bloke.
Cronk – Class still there as evidenced by his win last season, brilliant playmaker, running and passing threat, some witnesses say he can kick the ball on to a dime from 40 out.
Nobody said this selection required too much creativity. Don’t overthink it and lay your coin with proven champions