The Cumberland Throw

Crystal Ball – Top 8 Predictions: Season 2022

At The Cumberland Throw, we don’t mind being known for our passion for rugby league and the Parramatta Eels. Consequently, we spend plenty of time thinking about what’s going to happen each season.

Just like previous years, the 2022 instalment of The Crystal Ball will feature our bold predictions for this year’s Top 8 (in order) and the wooden spoon.

Each poster is also going to nominate a bolter (a team they think will go better than most expect) and a falter (a team they think will go worse than most expect) and their tip for the wooden spoon.

Season 2022 is about to commence, so let the games begin.

 

Sixties
1.

What’s not to love about our team! The Eels have a stable roster with improved depth via selective recruits and the blooding of youngsters in 2021. There’s a hunger in this team. “We was robbed” last season.
Go on, you know you want to say it – it’s our year!

2.

The Roosters fell from the injury tree last season, hitting every branch on the way down. It was a measure of their culture that they kept finding ways to win against the odds and I both hate and respect their capacity to do that. The recruits aren’t mind blowing, but I expect that a healthier roster will see them climb the ladder.

3.

Burton, Capewell, Momirovski, Naden, and May have all departed. More will follow in 2023. Cleary, JFH and Yeo are class players and hold this year’s fortunes in their hands. If any are injured, a bigger fall is on the cards. They do say that (Panther) Pride always comes before a fall.

4.

Now upgraded to triple Turbo charged, Manly appear to be just as strong as 2021. Though blessed by the the draw from heaven last season, they boast some of the most promising young forwards in the NRL and speed to burn out wide. Could finish even higher but I hope they don’t.

5.

How many supporters death ride the Storm on an annual basis? For those people, maybe your wishes are about to come true in 22. Addo-Carr, Finucane, Hynes gone!!! But the Storm are who they are and do what they do. Damn them. Damn them to hell.

6.

Quality recruits headed by Finucane, Hynes and coach Fitzgibbon. They’ve shed players who needed a change. Surely that’s enough to climb a couple of places – but will it be enough to win the hearts and minds of the people of Perth.

7.

Last year was a false dawn for the Titans. The players thought an improved roster was enough to get them deep into finals footy. They forgot all about hard work and scraped into the top 8. Defence is an attitude, and they were in holiday mode. Will they ditch the Hawaiian shirts in 2022?

8.

The Dragons will surprise punters. They have a host of good young backs emerging, interesting recruits, and look dangerous when they utilise their second phase play. And unlike old mate Gus, I rate Hook as a coach.

B.

I’m not sure that jumping three ladder places qualifies as a bolter. However, the Dragons form after “barbecue-gate“ last year was diabolical, so any lift this season will earn that bolter status.

F.

The Rabbitohs are my big falter. Maybe this is wishful thinking given their capacity to embarrass Parra in recent seasons, but the loss of both the captain (Reynolds) and the coach (Bennett), along with Origin star Gagai and the veteran Marshall, will have an impact. Please…

S.

The Thurstonless Cowboys have the capacity to end coaching careers. This season will be no different as they are again fielding a comparatively ordinary roster. Payten will need to be one almighty citrus juice extractor to get them climbing the ladder.


Mitch
1. No matter how many Immortals retire, no matter how many players they lose, no matter how many of their troops are already spending their Redcliffe currency, this institution is seemingly unshakeable. In 2022, it’s steady as she goes.
2. It’s our time, baby.

We are going to win the Grand Final.

3. The Roosters are eternally classy. Credit to Politis and Robinson for continuing to do what they do.
4. I don’t like them, but I do respect them.
5. I don’t like them, nor do I respect them.
6. Latrell Mitchell will either destroy the opposition or destroy he Bunnies chances in 2022; and we have front row seats to either one.
7. Nicho Hynes is not just a pretty face. With that said, he has a really pretty face.
8. Ah, 8th spot, aka the NRL equivalent of participation award.
B. The Cronulla Sharks have quietly put together a much better side by means of subtraction; losing the millstone contracts of Dugan and Woods.
F. No more Mitchell Pearce and the devastating loss of Jayden Brailey? The Knights might as well sign up the zombie of Danny Buderus.
S. Unless Jackson Hastings (who I rate, for what it’s worth) turns out to be the second coming of Cooper Cronk, the Wests Tigers are not going to be very good in 2022.

Forty
1. I am always going to be bullish on our Eels so they arrive here with top billing for the 2022 charts. Depth at wing could prove to be an issue but minimal roster turnover has them primed to win it all this year.
2. They just somehow always find a way to stay in the hunt for the minor premiership. Even if the team has taken a step back (which I think it honestly has) since the retirement of Cameron Smith and Billy Slater they are still so far ahead of the vast majority of the NRL.
3. With a veritable platoon of core players returning to full fitness this year the Roosters are solidly back to big-time contender status. Just a really strong unit from 1-13, although the bench could possibly be lacking this year.
4. The reigning champs, still a force to contend with…but heavy is the crown. The Panthers spent an exhausting 24 months chasing the title and to their credit they got there but backing it all up takes a heavy toll.
5. Easily one of the most volatile teams to place on this list. Could easily be in minor premiership contention if their talismanic fullback stays healthy, could equally fall apart if he isn’t. Even so Tom Tbrojevic was nullified in Weeks 1 & 3 of the finals and Manly will have to overcome that hurdle in 2022.
6. A lot rides on how they respond to new coach Craig Fitzgibbon but the Sharks are perhaps one of the few teams that can shake up the established order at the top of the ladder.
7. I am pegging Adam Reynolds as a big loss for the Bunnies. They will still be competitive without their famed field marshall but his experience and guidance in the big matches was invaluable and will be felt.
8. The final spot is a complete crap shoot and thus I find myself selecting the Knights to the final seat of this coveted table. Newcastle did enough to get to the postseason last year and that is the tie-breaker for me.
B.   Based on 2021 ladder positions the biggest bolters would be the Parramatta Eels but I think the bolter narrative in the media will firmly be around the Cronulla Sharks.
F. The Rabbitohs are my bet here. As before, Reynolds is a real loss for them and there is a real chance Latrell Mitchell ends up getting suspended for a significant duration once again.
S. Plenty of cutlery contenders this year between the Tigers, Broncos and Bulldogs but ultimately I have to go with the Cowboys. Not much seems right up in the far-North of Australia and it seems likes the wins will be few and far between this year.

Chris
1.

It. Is. Our. Time.

2.

Can’t/won’t have as many injuries as last year.

3.

Been death riding them since 2007. I’ve learned my lesson but effing hate them.

4. Big heads!
5.

The ultimate one man team.

6.

On the up. Or is that the “up, up”?

7.

Will need to be lucky.

8.

This is only because everyone else is even worse.

B. I placed the Sharks in the eight. They move up the ladder because of their good signings, headed by a promising coach.
F.

Souths aren’t as good as people think. No halfback is a major issue.

S. I’ve selected the Dogs simply because I’d love to see it happen again.

Shelley
1.

It will surprise no one that I predict the Eels to take out the premiership. In so many ways we turned many corners last year but still that premiership eluded us again. There will be bumps along the way but with a little luck and a huge, fantastic fan base cheering them on I predict our players may just open up that trophy case once more.

2.

I don’t think they will make the grand final but they will finish in the top 2 after the regular season because they will win all the games they should and will give themselves a chance in every other game.  Each year they lose players but maintain a high standard and until they show otherwise  I will not be betting against them.

3.

Much like the Storm they always keep themselves in games even when it appears they should not. They will miss the retired players, like the Morris boys and have to stay healthy, something they have not done in the last few years, but any team with players like Tedesco, Manu and the returning Keary will have a chance to win almost every game.

4.

I tossed up between the Panthers and Eagles for the top four and went with the Eagles based purely on the comfortable draw they received. They run the tightrope with injuries as their salary cap is heavily invested in 5-6 players but if they can keep Tommy on the field and  have him combining with Foran and Cherry Evans they will win many games by big margins.

5.

They have an enormous amount of young talent and on face value they should get better, however they have a much tougher draw when compared to the past two years and they will be the hunted each week. I think the toll and effort from the last two years may hurt them in the regular season. They will be dangerous come finals time but the regular season and tough draw may find them slip down the ladder.

6.

Like the Panthers they will be dangerous come finals time but the loss of Reynolds and Bennett will be significant for the Rabbitohs in the regular season. They have some of the most brilliant but also highly inconsistent and emotional players in the competition. The loss of the on field and calm general in Reynolds and the master media manipulator  and brilliant man manager in Bennett take much of the calmness and consistency from that team. I predict they will lose their way throughout the year but pure talent will win them enough games to get them into the finals and from there they could catch fire and beat anyone.

7.

They have recruited well and on paper they look much stronger. How will they combine, how will a rookie coach deal with the pressure of being head coach and can they keep their top players on the field? These are all questions but on pure talent alone they are better than those teams below them.

8.

While you can find some reasons to leave them out they still have some top class players in the spine, some highly talented forwards and playing in the nation’s capital in winter will be extremely tough for any team to walk away with the two points. The enormous home ground advantage in winter should be enough for them to collect enough wins to make the 8.

B.

The Bulldogs are my bolter. I have them around the edge of the top 8 but most likely finishing 9 -10. They have recruited some players who will win  a few games by themselves and I think they will find the bottom teams much easier to win against than in previous years. In 2022 they don’t have the spine to win against the top 6 teams but they will improve on previous years and move up the ladder.

F.

The Knights will struggle this year. They have lost half their spine, replacing experience with untested youth and will be even more reliant upon Kaylyn Ponga who is no doubt exceptionally talented but how many games will he play? Until Ponga can prove that he can stay injury free I cannot see the Knights having enough points in them to win all the games they should or challenge the top teams. I predict they will drop out of the eight and slide down the table, especially as the pressure will come on early with a very tough draw to start the season.

S. 

The Broncos will get the spoon. It still seems ridiculous to write this but even taking into account the acquisition of Reynolds,  the Broncos overall squad has not improved as any half needs a pack to take them forward. Those teams around them last year look stronger, and coupled with a tough draw which is largely influenced by the demands of free to air TV, it spells another disastrous year ahead for the Broncos.


Gol
1. The Roosters casualty ward in 2021 held more rep stars than most teams produce in a decade, yet  they were still competitive for most of the season. They’ve too much class, are too well coached and now have a host of youth with valuable experience.
2. They’re starting to look a bit more fragile against big name teams, but if I had to bet my life on an upset, the last team I’d tip it coming against would be Melbourne. They’ll be boringly good again.
3. Backing up is hard, and after two years at the top of their game I think there’ll be a little letdown for the Panthers in 2022. That defence will still win a lot of games, but others will be hungrier.
4. There’s a good chance, just like every other year, that the Eels will be great at their best but go through a down period that leaves people asking questions. As long as they arrest the slide before it costs them another top four spot, I’ll be happy.
5. Even Nathan Brown and Trent Barrett would have spent time this off season studying how Melbourne stopped Tom Trbojevic. Some teams won’t have the cattle to shut down Turbo, but against fellow contenders Manly will need some new tricks.
6. There’s too much talent at Souths for them to fall too far, but without the steady hand of Adam Reynolds and the mystique of Wayne I don’t think a grand final repeat is in the cards.
7. “Give it to the big kid” was a grand strategy for my under 10s coach Mr. Jones , and it turns out Jonesy’s ideas would work at NRL level too. Half the competition has a claim to these final two spots, but the Titans have a lot of scope to improve and plenty of exciting talent.
8. I’d normally baulk at backing a team with big changes like this, but all these mid-range teams have big changes so let’s run with the new coaching hotness, a rugged forward pack and a sneaky-good backline.
B. Go with me here, but I’m backing the Knights. Yes, they were a finals team last year and I’m predicting they miss the eight, but they’re hot in the spoon market right now and I see them as going much better than that. The pack will keep them in plenty of games.
F. I’m not seeing it for Canberra this year. I will be a lifelong Ricky Stuart doubter and now the least creative team in the NRL has lost its new halves saviour. The mixture of player unrest and a volatile coach isn’t one I want to back for success, and unless the Jack Wighton show can reverse its rotten ratings it is going to be a cold year down in the capital.
S. Wests are at peak basket case with a coach they flip-flop on, a roster with no notable improvements and an injury to their best player. In a season where everybody else seems to be getting better, Wests are undoubtedly worse and while better times might be ahead, 2022 is going to be painful.

ColMac
1.

2021 saw them qualify for finals footy even with a massive injury toll. If they stay healthy, who knows what they can do. They could finish well ahead of the pack.

2.

Still will be strong, and considering half the team is leaving next season, they’ll be determined to perform well whilst still together.

3.

Virtually an unchanged line up from 2021. The fire will be burning from last year’s finals loss, and like the Storm, they’ll want to prove something to the competition before half the side departs.

4.

Will start to falter a bit. Their season will depend on when Nathan Cleary returns as he’s their catalyst. They won’t be as strong as previous seasons.

5.

Could easily be in the top 4 but it all depends on Turbo’s hamstring. For and against could determine their ladder position.

6.

Adam Reynolds is a huge loss as they won’t have as much field dominance from his kicks. Latrell, Walker and Cook will need to step up.

7.

Can cause a lot of damage in the top 8. They had a taste of finals footy last year and will be better for the experience.

8.

Have bought well, but still not a great spine. Will struggle but are the best of the handful of sides fighting for 8th spot.

B.

I can’t really see a bolter this year. Rather it will be a case of a few teams performing a bit better. The Bulldogs will lift on the back of  their buying spree whilst the Titans won’t be the easy beats of previous years.

F.

Even though I’ve got them in my top 8, I think the Rabbitohs will falter. The loss of Reynolds is huge but maybe the biggest issue in their demise will be the loss of Wayne Bennett.

S.

The crystal steeden is showing me it’s going to be a 2-team race for the spoon. The Cowboys and Knights have not bought well. I’ll nominate the boys from Townsville to pick up the dreaded wooden ware.


Clint
1.

Following big injuries to established players last year the Roosters were only for and against of securing an unlikely top 4 birth. The return of Keary, Collins, Manu, Radley are big inclusions for the tricolours. Throw in some shrewd recruitments and the fact they’re coached by one of the best in the business, and I think they’ll be there at the pointy end of the season – and be super consistent along the way to a minor premiership.

2.

Everyone will be primed to play the reigning premiers, and they will have to contend with rep football even further again this year, but they will be up there when it counts. Their depth has taken a further hit this year. 

3.

Manly may have the fastest team in history right now. Led by Tommy T, who is at the peak of his powers, they’re deadest scary. Despite another strong season however, like last year, I think other teams will be better than them come finals time – and I’m not sure their depth could manage injuries as well as other sides.

4.

Of all the clubs, I think we will have taken the most growth from the 2021 season. To establish ourselves, faulter, and regroup and push the eventual premiers like we did, with essentially the same squad will have us primed for a premiership push more than any other point across the last 20 seasons. Again, we just have to be thereabouts when it matters.

Given the mid-late season stumbles we have had the last few years, I don’t think we will be a top 2 side in the regular season and be somewhere between 3rd – 6th again – and I have concerns about fatigue in our pack will endure without the support of the metre eating wingers to which we’ve become accustomed. However, we will find something more for the finals and give it everything we’ve got to make one last push to farewell our departing brigade.

5.

Is this the year the Storm finally falter? No. Not even close. They will still be there. However, their depth has taken a considerable hit with some notable departures. And with the season likely to be affected by COVID and rep football, they’ll feel the pinch when their top 17 is not available. That being said, my positioning of 5th isn’t a representation of a big slide, I anticipate the top 5 this year will all be within 2-3 wins/losses of each other come the final round.

6.

My big improvers for 2022. I think the Sharks will be that side who will be much better than the bottom half of the competition but can’t quite match it with the top 5. I’m bullish on Nico Hynes, Dale Finucane brings much needed experience to the forward pack and Craig Fitzgibbon will instil some of the Roosters resolve and spirit across the squad.

7.

The departure of Coach Bennett and Captain Adam Reynolds (plus others) will see them slide. Both the mental and physical aspect of that cannot be underestimated. Like the Sharks, they strike me as a side who will be infinitely better than the bottom half of the competition, but struggle against stronger teams as they get used to a new coach and a rookie half.

8.

This is the spot I had the hardest time filling. I believe several teams could lay claim to 8th; however, I’m going to throw the Dragons in there, as they emerge triumphant across a logger-jam of teams in the 8th – 12th spots. Solid depth and some gun rookies will see them have plenty of highlights for season 2022.

B.

The Warriors are one of the teams in the logger-jam for 8th – 12th.
The return of a mature Shaun Johnson will have them competitive all year. I have them just missing the top 8 but can see them being a nuisance side for a lot of teams.

F.

Losing your halfback in the pre-season with little ability to replace his quality hurts. So too losing your hooker to an ACL. The Knights still have the ingredients of a solid squad; however, the blows have come before the season has even kicked off. By virtue of being the highest ranked team to drop out of the top 8 from last year, they’re my 2022 faulter.

S.

Things are looking rosier for the Bulldogs on paper, and off the field they’re making plenty of power moves for a better tomorrow. It’s hard to break the habit of losing – and they’re still missing a few ingredients to truly rectify that. They will be much more competitive and better than last year, but at this point it’s hard to see them finishing above other teams.

There you have it. Somebody normally ends up looking like a goose and that’s the beauty of footy tipping.

And if you think you know more, or even less, have a crack in the reply space.

You win nothing but the ability to gloat.

Go you Eels!

The Cumberland Throw.

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Milo

Ha good work TCT. Here we go
Manly
Easts
Parra
Melbourne
Penrith
Souffs
Cronulla
Canberra

Bolter – Canberra
Lapse – C’bury ( I hope Penrith too and Souffs)
Spoon – Cows or Wests

I always think a couple of teams will improve and one or two will drop out of 8. Injuries can hurt anyone..My 8 is pure fantasy tbh.

sixties

Top 8 looks reasonable mate, though I would be surprised if the Raiders qualify. Somethings not quite right down there and it rhymes with Micky Bruart.

Milo

I added Canberra because I couldn’t pick C’ bury, saints or the warriors…and think Ricky’s press conferences would be better.

Glenn

Very hard to pick the top 8, 6 teams likely to form the core being Eels, Storm, Roosters Manly, Souths and Penrith in no particular order with Sharks and Titans likely to make up the balance. Sharks the bolter and Souths likely to fall to 6th place, Spoon will still belong to Dogs I reckon as Barrett cannot coach imo and likely to be first coach sacked unless Gus, who has praised him in the past, keeps backing him.

sixties

Glenn, I can’t fault your logic though I’m not sure that Gus is as enamoured with Barrett as people might think

Mick

Eels
Storm
Roosters
Manly
Penrith
Sharks
Souths
Titans
The bolter the Sharks, my failure is Penrith. The reason, the trial against us. Not the scorecard but, Luau and To’o in the sheds dancing and carrying on, To’o jumping on the bench to stick his face in front of the camera and making faces. If I was coach I would tell them, once you step into the change room, it’s game time.
Spoon, Broncos.

sixties

I am hoping and praying that the Riff are the falter. It was interesting to watch the despair in the stands for the trial. They knew it was a bad loss but were looking for reasons – from the ref to the missing players. It was only a trial, but it could be either the confidence jolted they didn’t want or the reality check they needed.

Jim Muir

This is a great read, thank you. Crystal balls are fragile things and break easily, good on you all for having a go. What intrigues me about the coming season is the shadow of Covid – the really astute coaches will be looking to build versatility throughout their entire squads and this is where I really like what Brad A is doing with the Eels. It just might give us the edge we need.

My top 8: Eels; Roosters; Manly; Melbourne; Penrith; Cronulla; Souths and St. George.
Bolter: Cronulla
Flop: Newcastle
Wooden spoon Tigers

sixties

Cheers Jim. What’s the odds of Madge lasting if they are anchored near the bottom? You could almost make a doco series out of it. Oh, wait…

Zach

For me I would pick this
Parra
Easts
Melbourne
Penrith
Souths
Manly
Sharks
Canberra

Bolter – Broncos
Falter – Souths
Spoon – Tigers

sixties

Thanks for replying Zach, another Canberra mention! That’s you, Shelley, Mick B and Milo. Did you put them in because of a potentially better season or because nobody else deserved it. A few people have been filling their 7th/8th spots without confidence.

Last edited 8 months ago by sixties
Zach

In one of my lists, I actually didn’t pick Canberra. I just found it so hard for that 8th place spot. With the Sharks, I have heard good things; so I thought that they felt safe even though from last season, that proved not to necessarily be the case.

sixties

I think many people struggled with 8th spot Zach

MickB

For me: Chooks Panthers Storm Eels Manly Sharks Warriors Raiders Dogs for the spoon. Barrett first coach to go. The Cowboys are the other contender here for me, but I’d be happier to see the Dogs take this out again. I don’t share the view that the Panthers will drop. I think they will be riding high on confidence, and while they lost some quality, their key players are all still in the squad. Bunnies to take the biggest fall. I must admit this is a fairly uneducated guess, but the Reynolds-Walker connection was a huge part of their attack,… Read more »

sixties

Thanks for your input Mick B. I very much agree with your assessment of Souths and what Bennett achieved. But damn did it work extra well against us. I’m going to deadset deathride the Riff – I cannot let go of that finals match.

BDon

Great read and plenty of food for thought. Our depth will go a long way to top fouring,then GF, even allowing for dearth of wingers. Sivo’s return will be interesting. Roosters to re-emerge, Penrith will struggle to hit same consistency. Bunnies also lost Jayden Sua, real steel in that dude’s veins, only needs to increase work rate to be top drawer.

sixties

Thanks BDpn. Maybe we don’t know enough about the depth of some other clubs to be able to judge them. But we can judge ours and supporters have to be pleased with it.

Dday

Some interesting crystal balling and delighted to see the eels near the top for most. Top 6 will be there about again. My two bobs worth: Eels (were close in 21 without Mahoney) Riff (lost X factor in Burton & Mr consistent in Capewell) Storm (they won 19 in row in 21, ridiculous) Roosters (good roster but no hooker & no cordener) Manly (shutdown Turbo and target Saab) South’s will struggle a little without Reynolds Titans (I think Holbrook is a class coach) Sharks (some good recruits but a new spine takes time) Bolter – the Eels for the GF… Read more »

Anonymous

Your two bobs worth provides at least 10 pounds value!

Anonymous

Parra
Panthers
Manly
Roosters
Storm
Sharks
Titans
Souffs

Bolter – Saints
Lapse- Storm
Spoon – Knights

Anonymous

You have the Dragons as a bolter. Do you think they are a chance of finals footy?

Anonymous

I do. I think they will be thereabouts. They will have games where they will look world beaters and then have games where they will look like wooden spooners. The 6 to 10 spots on ladder could be anyone.

Anonymous

My lapse is the Storm. This is more a dream than a reality. But one should never let go of their dreams!

Andrew

Great post TCT! Top 8 will look something like this:

1. Penrith
2. Sydney Roosters
3. Parramatta
4. Melbourne
5. Manly
6. Cronulla
7. Souths
8. Canberra

Bolter – Cronulla, Warriors on edge of the 8
Falling – Newcastle or Souths
Spoon – Tigers

Finals:
Week 1
Eels d Roosters, Penrith d Storm
Manly d Canberra, Cronulla d Souths

Week 2
Roosters d Cronulla, Storm d Manly

Week 3
Eels d Storm, Roosters d Penrith

Week 4
Eels end the premiership drought

sixties

Full marks for taking it through to the finals series Andrew. You’ll deserve Nostradamus status if if plays out close to your prediction.

John Eel

Roosters
Eels
Storm
Penrith
Manly
Sharks
Dragons
Souths

Most losses Dogs 🐶

sixties

I think quite a few fans would enjoy the Dogs coming last.

Jim
  1. The Mighty EELS
  2. Penrith
  3. Roosters
  4. Storm
  5. Sharks
  6. Souths
  7. Dragons
  8. Manly

Bolter – Dragons
Falter – Manly
Spoon – Bulldogs

sixties

Another Dogs spoon tip! Gus would freak out…

Zero58

Mr Sixties, picking the top is somewhat like picking your lotto numbers. You have favorites and then a selection variation. 1. Storm. Had NAS not rejoined I would have them lower. He is such a ruthless player. They are so well drilled that winning is second nature. Will they win the GF? No. Empathatically no! 2. Parramatta. This will be a big year. There are a number of excellent players leaving and what they Csn leave behind is a legacy. Can they win the GF? Yes. 3. Penrith. They have learned to win and are cohesive with there team work.… Read more »

Zero58

Sorry Mr Sixties, a few spelling mistakes.
CSn is Csn
Hood is good
Amo GST is amongst

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