This may not be a column Sydney fans want to read but the more I
watch this year the more I think Melbourne and Brisbane will contest the
NRL grand final.
The unbeaten Storm are eight from eight and Brisbane have won their past six games.
Both teams are in-form, confident and have a good mix of toughness and strike power.
What about the Storm?
They are doing the little things consistently well. Everyone talks about Slater, Smith and Cronk but they are a real team.
Melbourne play for one-another and every player knows his responsibility to his team-mates.
thought pre-season the Storm may slip back a cog or two this year but
they are on fire and hurtling toward the minor premiership.
Yes, State of Origin will hurt the Storm but they already have 16 competition points safely in the bank.
Fears Brisbane would struggle without Darren Lockyer have proven unfounded.
about young Corey Norman, Lockyer's replacement? He looks a genuine
number six and has been a key reason behind his side's success.
Broncos are travelling along beautifully. They are such a well-balanced
side and you cannot help but be impressed with Anthony Griffen.
Sydney fans would struggle to digest a Brisbane-Melbourne grand final but it is looking more and more like it could happen.
Of the Sydney clubs I have seen so far, Manly are the ones that could make a dent in the finals.
They have the experience and roster to win it - that has been proven.
Once Tony Williams and Kieran Foran return, the Sea Eagles will be back to full strength and ready to take down some big scalps.
The other Sydney team that has impressed me is the Cronulla Sharks. Six on the trot - who would have thought?
They are tough and entertaining. I am not going to say they can win the title but, boy, they are causing some damage.
Cronulla have a physical forward pack, smart halves and outside backs in strong form.
Time will tell though as to whether Cronulla can stand-up to the pressure of finals footy.
Before I sign off, I want to praise the NRL referees.
all the headlines last week, I thought they may have reacted and blown
the pea out of their whistles last weekend - but they didn't.
Some of the games in round eight were sensational. Roosters-Dragons and Canterbury-Manly were the pick.
The football was great because the refs didn't interfere.
This competition is so even. Anyone can win it.
But based on eight rounds, the Sydney clubs may well be watching on come the long weekend in October.
Michael Hagan is Qld assistant coach and a premiership-winning player and coach.