Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
A new NRL Premiership campaign is upon us, with several sides already showing why they have a say in who will end 2020 victorious.
Sydney are the clear favourites to take out the Provan-Summons Trophy for the 2020 season and form the league's next three-peat dynasty.
The void left by Latrell Mitchell will definitely set a limp in the tri-colours hopes of the Premiership, but to say this club has been a one-man-marching-band the past two seasons is unsound.
Lead by last season's Dally M winner James Tedesco, The Roosters superstar list is one to be admired by fans and envied by rivals. Luke Keary, Brett Morris and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are all expected to continue their fine form in Bondi for the upcoming season's premiership defence.
Exciting young hooker Sam Verrills could be the next superstar off the bat for Trent Robinson, as the 21-year-old won the clubs rising star award last year for a stellar debut season with 14 NRL games.
The Roosters will be hopeful their record is stable come the back-end of the season, as they face the Storm, Rabbitohs and Broncos to finish their 2020 home and away campaign.
Craig Bellamy's side will be hopeful they can match the start of their 2020 season with that of last year, but the same can't be said about the club's finish.
Having begun last year with five straight wins, Melbourne had set themselves up for a stellar season, where they eventually won the minor premiership honours three games clear of their rivals. Turn to their finals campaign and the dream was short lived.
Losses to both grand finalists in the Raiders and Roosters during the 2019 NRL finals will leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Storm squad, a taste that could turn sweet if they are to match the pedigree expected of them.
In what is likely to be club legend Cameron Smith's last season in purple, the Storm will be hopeful they can end what has been a hall-of-fame esque career and era with some silverware.
The Rabbitohs odds of the NRL title sky-rocketed after the signing of Latrell Mitchell, with the now-former Rooster's highly anticipated decision to move south seen as the acquisition of the off-season.
The first hurdle for the Rabbitohs in 2020 will be their tough start to the season, as they face Cronulla, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in their first month. If Souths are able to collect six points from their opening four matches, they may just slide up the order in favour of premiership hopefuls.
For Wayne Bennett's side, their leaders will have to step up this season if they are to stand a chance of going that step further. Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker will hope to match their 2019 campaigns individually, while the likes of Dane Gagai, James Roberst and Burgess brothers Sam and Tom will look to reignite career best form.
Perhaps the best outsider selection and value for money, South Sydney will be sure to surprise many this year with their unknown new mixture of players and possibilities.
Looking to go one better in 2020, the Raiders know they have the right algorithm for premiership success after a controversial and dramatic conclusion to their 2019 campaign.
The emotional burn from the Grand Final will be sure to sit in the back of the minds of the Raider playing group, with the agonising loss to Sydney perhaps the torment needed for success this year.
A fantastic finals campaign last year saw Ricky Stuart's men reach the final game of the season from fourth, with wins in Melbourne and against the Rabbitohs ensuring their spot in the Grand Final.
Looking at their fixture, the Raiders are expected to be strong out of the gates, with three of their first four matches at GIO Stadium. Their only five-day break of the season falls in that period between rounds two and three, meaning if they can end their first month with three wins, they'll have a nicely shaped season to come.
If one club should feel they have a point to prove, it's the Raiders. You have to expect a fearsome season from a side that battled how they did in 2019.