NRL.com's 2016 Ladder Predictions
The NRL Telstra Premiership season is notoriously difficult to predict week-to-week, so we at NRL.com have set ourselves the extra tough challenge of predicting the entire ladder, 1-16.
Read on for each of our predictions and check out our combined list at the end of the article. Who is your tip for 2016?
Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent
Predicted finish: 1. Storm, 2. Broncos, 3. Sharks, 4. Cowboys, 5. Rabbitohs, 6. Raiders, 7. Roosters, 8. Warriors, 9. Bulldogs, 10. Panthers, 11. Eels, 12. Sea Eagles, 13. Dragons, 14. Titans, 15. Wests Tigers, 16. Knights.
"In such a tight competition I can't help but feel the class of Smith, Cronk and Slater haven't got one more premiership campaign in them for the Storm. I thought they would be on the slide last year; I'm not falling for the same trick twice. Broncos, Cowboys and Sharks all appear solid top-four selections but from there absolutely anything can happen. I'm not convinced a remodelled roster under a new coach will translate to instant results at Manly, the Warriors simply have to find a way to qualify for finals footy and the Bulldogs, Panthers and Eels may all rue a dropped game here or there at the end of 26 weeks. Or they could romp into the finals, who really knows."
Chris Kennedy, National Correspondent
Predicted finish: 1. Broncos, 2. Sharks, 3. Storm, 4. Cowboys, 5. Eels, 6. Sea Eagles, 7. Warriors, 8. Roosters, 9. Raiders, 10. Bulldogs, 11. Dragons, 12. Rabbitohs, 13. Panthers, 14. Wests Tigers, 15. Knights, 16. Titans.
"I tipped the Sharks to finish fourth last year which was my only left-field prediction that still looked smart at the end of the year so I'll double down on Cronulla to improve further with some smart recruiting and push for top two. I predict the Eels, Sea Eagles and Warriors will all push into the eight on the back of big recruiting campaigns but can't pick any of them to break the top four. I can see Penrith and Souths potentially leaving me with egg on my face and I really wanted to squeeze the Raiders into my eight but you can't pick them all."
Martin Gabor, National Correspondent
Predicted finish: 1. Broncos, 2. Sharks, 3. Cowboys, 4. Sea Eagles, 5. Warriors, 6. Storm, 7. Rabbitohs, 8. Bulldogs, 9. Raiders, 10. Eels, 11. Panthers, 12. Roosters, 13. Dragons, 14. Knights, 15. Titans, 16. Wests Tigers.
"Predicting the NRL ladder is akin to picking the Lotto numbers. That said, I am fairly certain we will see last year's grand finalists do strongly again in 2016. The Sharks were one win away from making the top four, and I think their mix of experienced hardheads and breathtaking youngsters should be enough to earn them a top two spot. Manly and the Warriors have bought well, and if they can click early they should be classy enough to fight their way back into the top eight. The Raiders, Eels and Panthers are the wildcards who have the potential to trouble the top sides, but where they finish will depend on how consistent they are."
Jack Brady, National Correspondent
Predicted finish: 1. Broncos, 2. Storm, 3. Cowboys, 4. Sharks, 5. Sea Eagles, 6. Panthers, 7. Raiders, 8. Dragons, 9. Warriors, 10. Bulldogs, 11. Roosters, 12. Eels, 13. Rabbitohs, 14. Knights, 15. Titans, 16. Wests Tigers.
"People need to give Penrith and the Raiders more credit. They won't be world beaters but they'll be the two most improved clubs in the NRL in 2016 – you heard it here first. Really though it's Brisbane's season to lose, and controversially I struggle to see where the Warriors, Bulldogs, Eels and Roosters would fit into the top eight. I tipped the Rabbits to miss the eight last season which almost happened so I envision it happening in 2016. Then again I came last in the NRL.com tipping competition last year."
Adrian McMurray, NRL.com Producer
Predicted finish: 1. Broncos, 2. Cowboys, 3. Sharks, 4. Storm, 5. Raiders, 6. Warriors, 7. Eels, 8. Rabbitohs, 9. Sea Eagles, 10. Panthers, 11. Dragons, 12. Roosters, 13. Bulldogs, 14. Titans, 15. Knights, 16. Wests Tigers.
"A Broncos side that went within seconds of the 2015 premiership, plus James Roberts and a fit-again Josh McGuire? They'll be hard to beat in 2016. I like what the Sharks have done with their recruitment, likewise the Raiders, who I think are in for a big season. The Warriors and Eels look like they finally have sides capable of nailing down a top-eight berth, and I have a feeling the Dragons, Roosters and Bulldogs might be the sides to fall out of last year's top eight."
Dominic Brock, Production Editor
Predicted finish: 1. Broncos, 2. Cowboys, 3. Storm, 4. Sharks, 5. Sea Eagles, 6. Roosters, 7. Eels, 8. Warriors, 9. Rabbitohs, 10. Bulldogs, 11. Raiders, 12. Panthers, 13. Dragons, 14. Knights, 15. Wests Tigers, 16. Titans.
"It's a bit of a lottery predicting 3-13 this season, with last year's grand finalists looking settled at the top and another 11 teams appearing to be genuine contenders for finals spots. The Roosters should be too good to miss the eight despite a very rough pre-season while the Sharks and Sea Eagles now look great on paper. Canberra, Penrith and the Dragons should all be improved teams but I still can't squeeze them into my top eight."
Andy Bryan, Deputy Editor
Predicted finish: 1. Broncos, 2. Cowboys, 3. Sea Eagles, 4. Sharks, 5. Storm, 6. Rabbitohs, 7. Warriors, 8. Raiders, 9. Roosters, 10. Eels, 11. Panthers, 12. Bulldogs, 13. Dragons, 14. Wests Tigers, 15. Knights, 16. Titans.
"I'm tipping Manly and Cronulla to find their way into the top four to join premiership favourites the Broncos and Cowboys. The Sea Eagles' recruitment drive is too hard to ignore, while the Sharks look stronger again this season with the additions of James Maloney and Chad Townsend. You could flip a coin for teams in the bottom half of the eight, but I've gone with the Raiders who should surprise a few and make the finals if they can improve their defence and the Warriors with the additions of Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. I've left out the Roosters, Bulldogs, Eels and Panthers – but it wouldn't surprise me at all if any of those four play finals football."
NRL.com's combined predicted rankings for 2016
5. Sea Eagles
16. Wests Tigers