Monday 4 August 2008

Contenders or Pretenders?

With just five rounds of the 2008 NRL Regular Season to play out until the Finals begin on September 12, Warrick Nicolson sorts the contenders from the pretenders in the premiership race.

We'll start at the bottom and work towards the cream at the top.

With the North Queensland Cowboys, Bulldogs and South Sydney Rabbitohs no longer in the playoff picture they'll be placed in the 'Also-Ran' category when history judges the 2008 season but there are a few teams still alive in the race for September who in all honesty - shouldn't be.

They'll settle into the 'If Only' Category as injury, suspension or just plain bad luck (with a strong dose of lack of ability and consistency thrown in) derailed their season or never allowed it to get going in the first place.

IF ONLY's 2008: Parramatta Eels, Warriors, Newcastle Knights, Gold Coast Titans.

Then there are the Pretenders - teams who could/will make the Finals but don't have the cattle or class to win their way through to Grand Final glory in 2008.

PRETENDERS 2008: Canberra Raiders, Wests Tigers, St.George-Illawarra Dragons, Penrith Panthers and Sydney Roosters.

And finally there are the Contenders. This year there are four teams that have displayed during the course of 2008 that they have the right attributes to win in September and ultimately on October 5 - but even this category has two divisions.

CONTENDERS 2008: Melbourne Storm, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Brisbane Broncos.

Over the next week we'll dig a little deeper and examine why your team ranks where it does.