National Rugby League Premiership
By W D Nicolson - January 1, 2016
Let's have a crack at 5 things that I think will happen in 2016.
#1... The Brisbane Broncos win the Minor Premiership... in a canter.
While I didn't think they'd win the comp last year I also didn't think they'd be a Top 4 side and they proved me wrong on that front... a return to the Grand Final looms as long as Milford and Hunt stay healthy and I expect them to carve up the regular season again. And as an added bonus for Broncos fans - I can't see Wayne Bennett playing 'safe' in the GF again if you make it back.
#2... The Cowboys eventually suffer from a premiership hangover of sorts.
Yep - they deserved to party it up after their maiden title but this was a good team with a champion at the helm in 2015 and somehow he (and Michael Morgan) lifted them to the promised land. Even if I think they might start well in the opening month of 2016 - it won't be smooth sailing throughout the season this time around and though they'll make the Finals - I think they'll finish outside the Top 4. Plus they don't have back to back years of playoff heartache as 'money can't buy' motivation entering this season...
#3... Parramatta don't suck.
Are they a Top 8 team? Well I'm not convinced they are without seeing how they play with their new core but Brad Arthur is going to play up tempo footy and give his players a chance to show the comp they are capable of playing in a meaningful game for the first time since 2009. That said... there are better sides who missed the Finals last year trying to get in as well...
#4... Thursday Night Football... works.
The TV ratings will be there every single week and importantly - so will the games themselves. By that I mean that by having 18 editions of TNF - fans will get a chance to experience late week footy and I think they'll learn to love it. It isn't dealing with the 'early week blues' that MNF faced and ultimately couldn't overcome at the gate and though I don't expect sell-out games every Thursday night - I do think it's by far the better of the two options for the extra day of footy to be played on. Now for the clubs to wise up and lower prices at the gate for these games so that fans are rewarded for coming out to the ground... fingers crossed some clubs see the light here.
It's a bold call but I think that the May Tests (Australia v NZ and the Pacific Test/s) and then the Four Nations at the end of the year in the UK will be more enjoyable than the 2016 edition of State of Origin will be. In fact I'd almost put the Test triple header from Rep Round from 2015 as a better experience than Origin at the MCG... yep I just said that. Growing up watching the Kangaroos was to me - the pinnacle of Rugby League viewing - and though Origin is a wonderful beast - Test Footy is the most interesting contest on the calendar because every nation plays different footy and that's fantastic to watch.