NRL legends turn on Panthers in staggering premiership call on Sydney Roosters

Cooper Cronk is among a number of NRL greats who don't reckon the Panthers can make it a four-peat.

NRL great Cooper Cronk, pictured here alongside Nathan Cleary.
Cooper Cronk is among a number of NRL greats tipping the Sydney Roosters over the Penrith Panthers for the premiership in 2024. Image: Getty

As you'd expect, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary can see no reason why the Panthers won’t pull off a "four-peat" and claim the 2024 NRL premiership. That's despite losing more key players over the summer, another defeat in the World Club Challenge and the incessant pressure to match past deeds.

Speaking on Radio SEN, Cleary said: "We were told that we couldn’t even win one (premiership). We were then told we couldn’t win two in a row or even three in a row.

"We have the talent to (win a fourth), we certainly have the experience and we have created that belief with the way we play. We are still a very motivated group and we are quite young as well. Many of them have a long way to go in their careers."

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But Cleary did add a note of caution. "It’s a very even league and there are other teams out there who think they are in a very good position to improve," he said. “We will definitely have our hands full this season."

Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary.
Ivan Cleary is confident his Penrith Panthers can win a fourth-straight NRL title. (Jenny Evans via Getty Images)

A number of NRL experts agree, predicting this is the year Penrith's dynasty comes to a screaming halt. A Fox Sports poll featuring a host of premiership winers – plus Nathan Hindmarsh – almost unanimously went against the premiers in predicting their grand final winner.

Hindmarsh, Braith Anasta, Bryan Fletcher and Cooper Cronk all believe the Sydney Roosters will come out on top and claim the 2024 crown. There were two votes for last year's grand finalists Brisbane – courtesy of Corey Parker and Steve Roach – while Mick Ennis, currently on the Sea Eagles' coaching staff, naturally went with Manly to keep on his employer's good side. And Penrith great Greg Alexander, understandably, is not about to jump off the Panthers bus and has tipped them to again reign supreme.

NRL fans predict 2024 premiers and wooden spooners

The panel's love for the Roosters, however, is not replicated in Yahoo Sport Australia's poll. Asked which team would win the 2024 premiership, 34 per cent of the near 17,000 recipients have chosen Brisbane with Penrith the next favoured at 22 per cent. There is some love for the Warriors, Storm, Knights and Sharks, with 27 per cent of voters sharing their love between the other 11 clubs.

As for the likely wooden spooner, there appears little debate among experts and bookies. It's a toss-up between the Dragons and Benji Marshall's Wests Tigers, who have won the dreaded utensil the past two seasons.

TAB Sportsbet has the Tigers marginally ahead on the top two line of betting in its "most losses" market. It seems the safest bet of another hard-to-predict season.

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