NRL: A bandwagoner’s guide to the 2020 finals

@Hayward_AdamK

With the regular home-and-away season complete, supporters of the bottom-eight clubs will be looking to jump on the bandwagon of another team for this year’s finals series.

Let’s make a case for each of the top eight clubs as to why you should choose them as your bandwagon team.

NRL: Tips for Finals Week 1

Penrith Panthers (First)

Penrith have undoubtedly been the biggest underachievers of the past decade. Year after year pundits have tipped them to finish in the top four and challenge for a premiership but have continuously failed to deliver.

This season, the Panthers are finally living up to their potential. A minor premiership, a club record 15-straight victories and a very talented group of young players who are enjoying their footy and have the desire to succeed. They are a very close-knit unit and look to be in sync with everything they are doing on the field. They have been a pleasure to watch.

Melbourne Storm (Second)

Another year, another top four finish for the Storm. We continue to be in awe of the Storm’s system, professionalism, entertaining brand of football and long-term success.

We all know the greatness of Cam Smith and the rise of Cam Munster, but the ability of coach Craig Bellamy to continue developing young players like Ryan Papenhuyzen and turn them into superstars, or elevate so-so players like Jahrome Hughes into high quality match winners is something to behold.   

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Parramatta Eels (Third)

It is amazing to think that there is an entire generation of Parramatta Eels supporters who are yet to experience the feeling of watching their team win a premiership. The Eels haven’t won anything since 1986 – currently the longest premiership drought in the NRL.

But despite their inconsistent form in recent weeks, a top four finish which guarantees a second bite of the cherry should be a cause for excitement among their long-suffering supporters. Finals is a whole new ballgame, and we have seen how good the Eels can be earlier in the season and there is no reason why they can’t produce the same form again.

Sydney Roosters (Fourth)

A foundation club with a long, proud history. The eastern suburbs-based team is arguably one of the best run clubs with one of the talented playing rosters in the competition. They’re the reigning premiers and became the first team in 26 years to win back-to-back titles.

The loss of marquee players Cooper Cronk and Latrell Mitchell has made a 3-peat more difficult to achieve, but their impeccable roster management has seen them recruit and develop quality player to take their place.

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Canberra Raiders (Fifth)

There is a common belief that teams cannot win the competition from outside the top four, which no team has achieved in the NRL era. But the Raiders are the side best equipped to re-write the record books and go on a roll to win the premiership from fifth position.

Motivated by their heartbreaking grand final loss last season, these lads from the nation’s capital can beat any of the top four sides on their day and despite losing their most influential player Josh Hodgson, they still have enough quality talent on their roster to break their 26-year premiership drought.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (Sixth)

Another finals appearance for the foundation club, however the Rabbitohs remain just below the top tier sides of the competition. But like the Raiders, they too have the tools to win the competition from outside the top four and add to their 21 premierships.

They’ve been inconsistent in recent weeks but their sizzling attack led by Cody Walker has been amazing to watch. Master coach Wayne Bennett will have them primed to give the premiership a real crack.

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Newcastle Knights (Seventh)

Knights fans have had to endure three-straight wooden spoons and two 11th placed finishes over the past five seasons, so it would be fair to say they are pretty excited about their team qualifying for the finals.

Despite their inconsistent form this season, there is enough talent and experience in this side to make a fairy tale run through the finals. If they’re able to achieve some success in this finals series, it would be great reward for their supporters who always showed up to support them during the bad times.

Cronulla Sharks (Eighth)

The Sharks have been given next to no chance of making an impact in the finals. Riddled with injury to key players, they haven’t beaten a top eight side all season and their defence has been woeful.

The Sharks have been given next to no chance of making an impact in the finals. Riddled with injury to key players, they haven’t beaten a top eight side all season and their defence has been woeful.

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Whichever club goes on to win this year’s premiership, there will be a fairy tale, feel-good or an in-awe story attached to it.

So if your club either did not qualify for the finals, or is eliminated before the grand final, who would you like to see win the 2020 NRL premiership?