Meninga: Why the Broncos will cause finals chaos
State of Origin footy is now in the rear view mirror as NRL clubs start to look ahead to September. The race for the top eight will really start to heat up over the next few weeks as teams seek to build finals momentum. MAL MENINGA takes a look at the sides shaping to make a charge and sorts the premiership contenders from the pretenders.
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THE BIG GUNS
The Storm are the benchmark and will finish top four without a doubt. They are getting fresh players back this week and for them now it is about fine tuning their performances and staying healthy for the back end of the year.
Souths still have Sam Burgess to come back and he is their spiritual leader. He is really important to their success but they are still finding a way to win without him, which is a bonus for them. Getting Sam back will be crucial to their chances of finishing in the top four.
They had an emphatic win last week over Knights and have worked really hard over the Origin period, now it is starting to bear some fruit. They have rested a few players and if you look at their team from 1-17, they have a great roster. Losing Jake Friend hasn't helped but is not insurmountable.
They are the real deal. Their defence has been outstanding and that is how you win comps and your attack decides by how much. Defence is attitude and desire and willingness to dig deep and help your mates and they have it in spades. They are doing all those hard things, the tough stuff, really well.
Des Hasler has made a huge difference at Manly. He has that team buzzing and they just keep coming up with the right efforts at the right times. There is obviously a lot of confidence in the group and with each other. Not to mention they have done most of it without Tom Trbojevic, which is even more impressive.
They are one of the danger sides. They are one of the inconsistent teams that you don't know what you are going to get. When Parramatta play teams at home they can blow teams off the park and then when they are away they struggle. Finding consistency is the key for the Eels.
Penrith are on a roll and coming off their best win of the season last week against the Dragons. They have been winning ugly and sometimes that can be a good sign, it means they have scrambled well and their attitude is good. But come finals winning ugly won't get them anywhere.
If they can get back to where they were a month ago, they are a definite chance. They have a really well-balanced side, Kalyn Ponga is back from injury and Mitchell Pearce is in terrific form. The just need to rediscover those winning habits.
I honestly think the Broncos have the potential to give the finals a shake based on their past few games. Their forwards, especially Payne Haas and Tevita Pangai Jr, have been terrific through the midfield and they should get Matt Gillett back this week. If those forwards can keep aiming up they are definitely a chance. The changes they have made with moving Anthony Milford to fullback have worked and Darius Boyd is playing good footy at No.6. Coach Anthony Seibold has had the courage to make some big calls and it seems to be working