Ranking where your team will finish season 2018

Joey Riordan

We predict where every NRL team will finish the regular season in 2018.

Take a look and let us know what you think of our selections.

Knights - 8th

Mitchell Pearce arrives in Newcastle to lead the Knights around. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 8th. Will be one of the storylines of the seasons as they go from wooden-spooners to top eight in the space of a year. Still missing some crucial pieces, but they'll be ferocious competitors.

The star: Mitchell Pearce. So much of the Knights' 2018 hopes rest on the shoulders of the controversial halfback. Having led the Roosters to a premiership, Pearce knows what it takes to win the big games. But can he be a leader of a young, exciting team, without the superstars of the Tricolours?

The player who needs to step up: Aidan Guerra. From a solid performer in a loaded Roosters pack, to a leader in a young Knights pack, Guerra has an unfamiliar role in 2018. All indications so far are that the former Maroons second-rower is growing into the job superbly, marking himself as a contender for the captaincy in pre-season.

The young gun: Kalyn Ponga. Fans around the league can't wait to see this electrifying junior light up the NRL in 2018. Having been stuck behind a number of stars at the Cowboys, the 19-year-old gets his chance to make a name for himself in the Hunter.

The weakness: The front row. The Knights look a little light in their prop rotation, with a couple of older heads such as Jacob Lillyman and Chris Heighington tasked with taking on the young bulls in the middle.

The quote: Nathan Brown - "You can be excited by a lot of players we've added, but Pearce, at 28, his next three years should be his best three. I'm confident that Kalyn has a good future here and along with Connor he's in a key position for us. Add Slade, who'll fight with Danny (Levi) for the hooking spot, and we have plenty of running threats and pace in those key positions and guys joining us from good, top-four organisations."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 16th, 2016 - 16th, 2015 - 16th

Coach: Nathan Brown. Captain: Jamie Buhrer

Gains: Kalyn Ponga (Cowboys), Connor Watson, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Pearce (Roosters), Tautau Moga, Herman Ese'ese (Broncos), Slade Griffin (Storm), Jacob Lillyman (Warriors), Chris Heighington (Sharks), Christian Hazard (Redcliffe), Brent Naden (Raiders)

Losses: Jarrod Mullen (released), Brendan Elliot, Jack Stockwell (Titans), Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs), Rory Kostjasyn (retired), Peter Mata'utia (Leigh), Sam Mataora (retired), Mickey Paea (Hull FC), Josh Starling (Oberon), Anthony Tupou (retired), Jo Wardle (Castleford), Jacob Gagan (Rabbitohs), Jaelen Feeney (Townsville), Chanel Mata'utia (released), Pauli Pauli (Wakefield), David Bhana (not re-signed), Bryce Donovan (Redcliffe), Will Pearsall (not re-signed)

Best team: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Nathan Ross, 3. Sione Mata'utai, 4. Tautau Moga, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Slade Griffin, 10. Jacob Lillyman, 11. Aidan Guerra, 12. Jamie Buhrer, 13. Mitchell Barnett. Bench: 14. Danny Levi, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Chris Heighington, 17. Herman Ese'ese.

Off contract: Tyrone Amey, Pat Mata'utia, Sione Mata'utia, Jacob Lillyman, Jamie Buhrer, Matt Cooper, Cory Denniss, Trent Hodkinson, Tom Hughes, Josh King, Brock Lamb, Junior Roqica, Nick Meaney, Dylan Phythian, Ken Sio, Tom Starling, Luke Yates, Zac Hosking, Christian Hazard, Jack Johns, Brent Naden

Betting: $29

Broncos - 7th

The Broncos need a huge year from their dynamic playmaker Anthony Milford. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 7th. The loss of Ben Hunt will hurt, but the Broncos still have too much quality to miss the top eight. They'll sneak in off the back of a big year from Anthony Milford.

The star: Anthony Milford. After undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season, Milford will be the key man in the Broncos halves. He can do everything on a footy field, but with the pressure on, can Milford become the organiser?

The player who needs to step up: Kodi Nikorima. The livewire halfback will be tasked with filling the void of Ben Hunt. After an up-and-down 2017 season, there's plenty of pressure on the little halfback to make his mark.

The young gun: Jamayne Isaako. The 21-year-old made his NRL debut last season and has now locked down a wing position. A strong ball carrier with speed to burn.

The weakness: Game control. The loss of Ben Hunt is huge for the Broncos. With Andrew McCullough set for a slow start to the season coming back from an ACL injury, plenty of responsibility falls on the shoulders of two halves more known for their athletic ability than their skill at guiding a team around the park.

The quote: Sam Thaiday - "We have always been a team that has been built on success, even from day one. We have got the brand new facility so we have zero excuses now. We just have to convert all the good things for us off the field with some good results on it."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 3rd, preliminary final, 2016 - 5th - semi-finals, 2015 - 2nd, losing grand finalist.

Coach: Wayne Bennett. Captain: Darius Boyd

Gains: Jack Bird (Cronulla), Sam Tagataese (Cronulla), Andre Savelio (Warrington), Patrick Mogo (North Queensland)

Losses: Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra), Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers), Tautau Moga (Newcastle), Jai Arrow (Gold Coast), Herman Ese'ese (Newcastle), Francis Molo (released) , Adam Blair (Warriors), David Mead (Catalans)

Best team: 1. Darius Boyd (capt), 2. Corey Oates, 3. Jack Bird, 4. James Roberts, 5. Jordan Kahu, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Korbin Sims, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Matt Lodge, 11. Matt Gillett, 12. Alex Glenn, 13. Josh McGuire. Bench: 14. Todd Murphy, 15. Sam Thaiday, 16. Tevita Pangai, 17. Jo Ofahengaue.

Off contract: Corey Allan, Corey Oates, Jamayne Isaako, Tom Opacic, Moses Pangai, Tevita Pangai, Korbin Sims, Jaydn Su'a, Sam Thaiday, Matt Lodge, Sam Tagataese, Shaun Nona, Marion Seve, Jake Turpin, Gehamat Shibasaki, Todd Murphy, Sam Scarlett, George Fai

Betting: $12

Dragons - 6th

James Graham brings his aggressive style to the Dragons. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 6th. The additions of James Graham and Ben Hunt will be huge for the Red V in 2018. With more big-game experience, they'll overcome their worrying run of mid-season crashes.

The star: Gareth Widdop. After finishing third in Dally M voting last season, the crafty Englishman is set for big things this season, especially with Hunt providing playmaking support.

The player who needs to step up: Ben Hunt. The money man has lots of pressure on his shoulders after signing on for $1.2 million a year to play for the Red V. Needs to perform.

The young gun: Matt Dufty. The 22-year-old fullback impressed in seven NRL games last year and was a standout in the pre-season.

The weakness: Outside backs lack star power. Josh Dugan's game-breaking ability will be missed in a solid, but not electrifying backline.

The quote: Paul McGregor - "We've got to add to our game plan and add a bit more around our game management to close out games that we lost when leading at half-time," McGregor says. Ben's (Hunt) an experienced player. He's played 180 games and wears the No.7 so he needs to execute the game plan and be dominant. Control the tempo of the game and know the situation and what is required. He's got to make small adjustments during the game when something is not going to plan as well."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 9th, 2016 - 11th, 2015 - 8th

Coach: Paul McGregor. Captain: Gareth Widdop

Gains: Mitchell Allgood (Wakefield), James Graham (Canterbury), Ben Hunt (Brisbane), Jeremy Latimore (Cronulla)

Losses: Josh Dugan (Cronulla), Drew Hutchison (Leigh), Mose Masoe (Hull KR), Will Matthews (Widness), Josh McCrone (Toronto), Taane Milne), Russell Packer (Wests Tigers), Joel Thompson (Manly)

Best team: 1. Matt Dufty, 2. Nene Macdonald, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Jason Nightingale, 6. Gareth Widdop, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Paul Vaughan, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. James Graham, 11. Tariq Sims, 12. Tyson Frizell, 13. Jack de Belin, 14. Kurt Mann, 15. Leeson Ah Mau, 16. Luciano Leilua, 17. Hame Sele.

Off contract: Leeson Ah Mau, Matt Dufty, Reuben Garrick, Patrick Herbert, Josh Kerr, Jeremy Latimore, Jason Nightingale, Ash Nisbet, Jordan Pereira, Hame Sele, Mitchell Allgood

Betting: $19

Eels - 5th

All eyes will be on the Hayne Plane when the Eels kick off their season against Penrith. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 5th. Will easily makes the finals with Corey Norman and Mitchell Moses benefiting from an off-season together to become the most dangerous halves combo in the game. Could use a couple of big, aggressive forwards come September.

The star: Corey Norman. Has all the tricks on the footy field, and fits this Eels team like a glove. If he can get himself in the right headspace he can take this team all the way.

The player who needs to step up: Jarryd Hayne. Not many players have come into an NRL season with as much hype and speculation surrounding them. Has copped plenty of flak in pre-season for his fitness. Now, the Hayne Plane just needs to let his footy do the talking.

The young gun: Parra's top 17 features plenty of experience, but waiting in the wings is powerful second-rower Marata Nuikore. The 21-year-old be hoping for a crack at first grade footy after starring for the Wentworthville Magpies last year.

The weakness: The front row. The Eels are somewhat skinny up front, with high-workload big men Tim Mannah and Daniel Alvaro likely to start. They could use a couple more big, aggressive forwards.

The quote: Brad Arthur - "It's nice to get that stability in the playing squad, and we've got that in the staff as well and the front office. It's a big difference. When you've got the same players and staff who know your frameworks of how you want to play, then the base levels are a lot higher and it allows you to do different things."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - semi-finals, 2016 - 14th, 2015 - 12th

Coach: Brad Arthur. Co-captains: Tim Mannah and Beau Scott

Gains: Kane Evans (Roosters), Jarryd Hayne (Titans), Tony Williams (Sharks)

Losses: Isaac De Gois, Frank Pritchard, Jeff Robson (retired), Bureta Faraimo (Hull FC), Jamal Fogarty, James Hasson (released), Semi Radradra (rugby union), Kelepi Tanginoa (Sea Eagles)

Best team: 1. Clint Gutherson, 2 Bevan French, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Jarryd Hayne, 5. Kirisome Auva'a, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Mitchell Moses, 8. Tim Mannah, 9. Cameron King, 10. Daniel Alvaro, 11. Tepai Moeroa, 12. Manu Ma'u, 13. Nathan Brown. Bench: 14. Will Smith, 15. Kane Evans, 16. Beau Scott, 17. Kenny Edwards

Off contract: Dane Aukafolau, Kirisome Auva'a, Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Davis, David Gower, George Jennings, Cameron King, Suaia Matagi, Jack Morris, Reed Mahoney, Kaysa Pritchard, Beau Scott, Peni Terepo, Siosaia Vave, Sean Keppie, Greg Leleisiuao, Marata Niukore, Tony Williams, Blaise Barnes

Betting: $13

Sharks - 4th

The Sharks backline is dripping with talent since the arrival of Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 4th. Looking the goods this year with the addition of Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan making their backline frighteningly dangerous. Could go all the way with their experience and ability in big finals games.

The star: Paul Gallen. The 36-year-old is entering his 18th season of first grade NRL. While he has his fair share of detractors, you can't doubt Gal's passion and commitment. In what could be his final season, the big man will once again be a force with his work rate and power.

The player who needs to step up: Josh Dugan. Dragons fans will tell you Dugan didn't give enough bang for his buck during his tenure in the Red V. While none can doubt his talent, Dugan often left his best work to the representative arena. In a star-studded backline, Dugan could easily carve up in 2018.

The young gun: Sione Katoa. Everyone's talking about the lightning speed of the up-and-coming winger. The leading try scorer in last year's under-20s competition looks likely to start the year in first grade.

The weakness: Goal kicking. Without James Maloney a number of prospective kickers will be hoping to fill the sizeable void. With their former five-eighth kicking at 87% last season, the likes of Valentine Holmes, Matt Moylan and Chad Townsend have a lot of work to do.

The quote: Shane Flanagan - "Last year, the loss of Ben Barba, no one took up that slack. Val scored 19 tries the year before on the wing, he scored six last year and so he was down over 10 tries himself. Moylan is going to add a lot to our footy team and Duges will add something and Val is a year older in that position as well. I think we'll be a better offensive team and then you have a guy like Sione Katoa who is a genuine fast finisher, he can beat people with just natural speed. We'll have more points in us and we've worked hard in the off-season to get that right."

Ladder finish over the past three seasons: 2017 - 5th, 2016 - 3rd (premiers), 2015 - 6th

Coach: Shane Flanagan. Co-captains: Paul Gallen and Wade Graham

Gains: Josh Dugan (Dragons), Matt Moylan (Panthers), Aaron Gray (Rabbitohs), Trent Hodkinson (Knights), Ava Seumanufagai, (Wests Tigers), Braden Uele (Cowboys)

Losses: James Maloney (Panthers), Gerard Beale (Warriors), Jack Bird (Broncos), Fa'amanu Brown (Bulldogs), Manaia Cherrington (Warriors), Chris Heighington (Knights), Jeremy Latimore (Dragons), Sam Tagataese (Broncos), Tony Williams (Eels)

Best team: 1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Josh Dugan, 4. Ricky Leutele, 5. Sione Katoa, 6. Matt Moylan, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Wade Graham, 12. Luke Lewis, 13. Paul Gallen. Bench: 14. James Segeyaro, 15. Jayson Bukuya, 16. Ava Seumanufagai, 17. Kurt Capewell.

Off contract: Jayson Bukuya, Kurt Dillon, Paul Gallen, Edrick Lee, Ricky Leutele, Luke Lewis, Blake Manowski, Joseph Paulo, James Segeyaro, Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, Kurt Dillon, William Kennedy, Clayton Uia, Jesse Ramien

Betting: $13

Storm - 3rd

Cam Smith is looking to back up his outstanding 2017 season. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 3rd. They've lost a few stars, but in true Storm fashion it looks like Melbourne have immediately found exciting replacements. Will go close at worst.

The star: Cameron Smith. The rugby league genius will have to take an even bigger role in leading the team around in the absence of Cooper Cronk, but as usual he will find a way to make it look easy.

The player who needs to step up: Cameron Munster. Has endured a dramatic World Cup and pre-season, and now needs to repay the Storm who have stuck with him despite their unrivalled standards.

The young gun: Brodie Croft. The 20-year-old Cronk-clone who has already showcased a game-winning ability and cool composure in a six-game NRL career.

The weakness: Inexperienced halves. It's hard to pin-point a weakness in such a classy top 17, but with only 72 games between Cameron Munster and Brodie Croft, the Storm face an uphill task filling the space left by their champion halfback.

The quote: Bellamy on halves partners - "It's crucial that everyone gets their job done the best they can wherever they play. We just need Brodie to be the best Brodie Croft can be, not another Cooper Cronk, because everyone's got different strengths and there's a heap of difference in experience in those guys. We're trying not to focus on what we haven't got but what we have got."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 1st (premiers), 2016 - 2nd (losing grand finalists), 2015 - 4th (preliminary finals)

Coach: Craig Bellamy. Captain: Cameron Smith

Gains: Sam Kasiano (Canterbury), Ryan Hoffman (Warriors), Patrick Kaufusi (North Queensland), Sandor Earl (no club)

Losses: Cooper Cronk (Sydney Roosters), Tohu Harris (Warriors), Jordan McLean (North Queensland), Slade Griffin (Newcastle), Mark Nicholls (South Sydney), Robbie Rochow (Wests Tigers), Jeremy Hawkins, Nate Myles (retired), Vincent Leuluai (South Sydney)

Best team: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Dale Finucane. Bench: 14. Ryley Jacks, 15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 16. Kenny Bromwich, 17. Sam Kasiano

Off contract: Scott Drinkwater, Sandor Earl, Tim Glasby, Ryley Jacks, Tui Kamikamica, Felise Kaufusi, Justin Olam, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Young Tonumaipea, Ryan Hoffman, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Sale Finau, Louis Geraghty, Harry Grant, Kayleb Milne, Junior Ratuvu, Lachlan Timms, Billy Walters

Betting: $6.00

Cowboys - 2nd

JT enters his 17th and final season in the NRL. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 2nd. They maintain the same 17 that took them to the Grand Final last season, and then add Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Jordan McLean. Scary.

The star: JT. The best player in the game at the moment, sorry Cam Smith. In his 17th and final season, the superstar wants another premiership ring as he returns from a serious shoulder injury.

The player who needs to step up: Lachlan Coote. Had some shockers at the back last season while plagued by a number of minor injuries, before starring in the Cowboys finals run. Has to stay on the field and maintain his form if the Cowboys are going to go all the way, but faces an up-hill battle as he misses Round One with a hamstring injury.

The young gun: Could've, should've been Kalyn Ponga, but instead 21-year-old Coen Hess holds the role after a breakout 2017.

The weakness: Injuries. On paper, the Cowboys are stacked with talent, on the field they proved last year they can play above their weight. With a few ageing superstars on their roster, injuries could once again curse the club.

The quote: Matt Scott - "They did so well without JT and myself last year and now we are back it's exciting times but it is also brings a bit more pressure and expectation. It is something that we have to manage internally and make sure we do not put too much pressure on ourselves. Last year was a great year, although a bit disruptive, and we were very lucky to make the eight the way it turned out. But the last month I think we showed what sort of football we are really capable of; hopefully that gives us confidence leading into this year."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 8th (grand finalists), 2016 - 4th, 2015 - 3rd (premiers)

Coach: Paul Green. Co-captains: Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott

Gains: Jordan McLean (Melbourne), Carlin Anderson (Townsville Blackhawks)

Losses: Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle), Ray Thompson (retired), Patrick Kaufusi (Melbourne), Braden Uele (Cronulla), Patrick Mogo (Brisbane)

Best team: 1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Kane Linnett, 4. Justin O'Neill, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Johnathan Thurston, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Bench: 14. Ben Hampton, 15. Scott Bolton, 16. Coen Hess, 17. John Asiata.

Off contract: Javid Bowen, Josh Chudleigh, Lachlan Coote, Shaun Fensom, Jake Granville, Sam Hoare, Francis Molo, Shaun Hudson, Marcus Jensen, Kyle Laybutt, Kane Linnett, Ethan Lowe, Justin O'Neill, Emry Pere, Johnathan Thurston, Antonio Winterstein, Shane Wright, Kurt Wiltshire

Betting: $6

Roosters - 1st

Cooper Cronk brings a new level of professionalism to Bondi. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 1st. Will be almost impossible to beat in 2018 as long as they gel in the spine. Top 17 looks shockingly good. Premiership favourites.

The star: Cooper Cronk. The ultimate professional, Cronk will lift everyone around him with his professionalism and tactical genius.

The player who needs to step up: Blake Ferguson. Hasn't quite reached his incredible potential in recent years, but could light it up with Cronk pulling the strings. Will be pushing hard for a big contract too.

The young gun: Lachlan Lam. The son of Adrian Lam excelled for PNG in last year's World Cup. The athletic halfback is looking a great chance to pave a great NRL career just like his father.

The weakness: New combinations in the spine. This one's almost impossible to pick, but Cronk's on-field relationships with the rest of the spine could cause issues. The former Storm star has only ever played alongside champions of the game in the spine, whether at club or representative level, but will he know how to adapt when things aren't as easy?

The quote: Boyd Cordner on Cooper Cronk - "He's a fulltime professional. He's just been Cooper Cronk. He's been awesome, not only for us older boys in the team, but for the young boys as well. Just the way he carries himself and the way he lives his football, his standards. Everyone watches what he's doing and it just drives all the boys to be better."

Finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 2nd (preliminary finals), 2016 - 15th, 2015 - 1st (preliminary finals)

Coach: Trent Robinson. Co-captains: Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner

Gains: Cooper Cronk (Storm), James Tedesco (Wests Tigers), Reece Robinson (rugby union), Kurt Baptiste (Raiders), Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Wigan)

Losses: Kane Evans (Eels), Michael Gordon (Titans), Aidan Guerra (Knights), Mitchell Pearce (Knights), Connor Watson (Knights)

Best team: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Joseph Manu, 5. Blake Ferguson, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Jake Friend, 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Isaac Liu, 13. Sio Siua Taukeiaho. Bench: 14. Ryan Matterson, 15. Mitchell Aubusson, 16. Zane Tetevano, 17. Frank-Paul Nuuausala

Off contract: Blake Ferguson, Joseph Manu, Dean Matterson, Chris Smith, Zane Tetevano, Eloni Vunakece, Paul Momirovski, Mitch Cornish, Brock Gray, Lachlan Lam, Reece Robinson

Betting: $5

The bottom eight

Penrith Panthers - 9th

James Maloney forms one of the best halves combos in the NRL with Nathan Cleary. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 9th. The Panthers look great on paper but the rumours of player unrest are a real worry. They'll falter later in the year as the wheels slowly come off.

The star: Nathan Cleary. Still only 20, Cleary set the comp on fire with incredible 2017 form. He looks more like a 10-year veteran when he takes to the pitch, and has a handy knack of converting tries too, kicking at 90% last season on his way to being crowned top point scorer. Only headache for the Panthers is locking him down long-term.

Who needs to step up: Trent Merrin. Was disappointing in 2017, recently blaming a couple of extra kilos for his lack of form. The former Kangaroo is set for a big 2018.

The young gun: Jed Cartwright. Looking to add to the proud list of Cartwrights who have paved their way in the NRL. The 21-year-old back-rower impressed in Penrith's NSW Cup-winning side last year.

The weakness: Anthony Griffin? Rumours of player unrest aren't going away and the list of departing local juniors continues to grow. Is the coach the problem? The players will reveal the answer in their early-season efforts.

The quote: Anthony Griffin - "To our credit, we haven't started well the last couple of years, but we got down to the last six through a lot of determination and resilience and belief. There's plenty of that within the group. We just need to get our football better early on in the year and I think that consistency of position and bringing (Maloney) in will help with that. Even though we're starting this year with a different halves combination, I think it'll help us be consistent, the two guys we've got there now."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 7th, semi-finals, 2016 - 6th, semi-finals, 2015 - 11th

Coach: Anthony Griffin. Captain: Peter Wallace

Gains: James Maloney (Sharks), Tyrone Phillips (Bulldogs)

Losses: Sitaleki Akauola (Warrington), Bryce Cartwright, Leilani Latu, Mitch Rein (Titans), Matt Moylan (Sharks).

Best team: 1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Dean Whare, 4. Waqa Blake, 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6. James Maloney, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Peter Wallace (c), 10. James Tamou, 11. Isaah Yeo, 12. Corey Harawira-Naera, 13. Trent Merrin. Bench: 14. Tyrone Peachey, 15. Sam McKendry, 16. James Fisher-Harris, 17. Viliame Kikau.

Off contract: Oliver Clark, Viliame Kikau, Josh Mansour, Peter Wallace, Tyrone Phillips, Soni Luke, Jayden Walker, Mitchell Revell, Joe Peato, Samuel Martin-Savage, Adam Keighran, Stefano Hala, Allan Fitzgibbon, James Conroy, Chad O'Donnell, Joey Peato, Tom Skinner

Betting: $15

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles - 10th

Jake Trbojevic could use some more support in the forwards. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 10th. Missing a few big boppers in the forwards. An injury or two could decimate their pack. They'll start strong but eventually fall victim to depth and the salary cap saga.

The star: Daly Cherry-Evans. One of the most skilful players in the competition, with an incredible ability to play both sides of the field and kick off both feet. Will need to step up his organising game in the absence of Blake Green.

Who needs to step up: Martin Taupau. Big Marty has been hot and cold in his time on the Northern Beaches but really ramped it up in 2017. He'll need to lift his game even further this season, with the Sea Eagles looking a little stretched in the middle of the field.

The young gun: Lachlan Croker. The Canberra-junior looks set to partner DCE in the halves this year after impressing Trent Barrett with his application to pre-season. The tough 21-year-old has one forgettable 2016 NRL appearance to his name, but looks set for big things in 2018.

The weakness: The forwards. Manly look stretched in the forwards this season, with the salary cap mess restricting their ability to create depth in the pack. The pre-season injury to Darcy Lussick doesn't help matters.

The quote: Trent Barrett - "We've got some really good young kids coming through and we won the under-20s last year. There will be sceptics who won't have us in the eight but it's OK. They didn't have us there last year either."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 6th, 2016 - 13th, 2015 - 9th

Coach: Trent Barrett. Captain: Daly Cherry-Evans

Gains: Lachlan Croker (Canberra), Jack Gosiewaski (South Sydney), Toafoa Sipley (Warriors), Kelepi Tangino (Parramatta), Joel Thompson (St George Illawarra), Moses Suli (TBC, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Losses: Brenton Lawrence, Steve Matai, Brett Stewart (all retired), Blake Green (Warriors)

Best team: 1. Tom Trbojevic, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Dylan Walker, 4. Brian Kelly, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Lachlan Croker, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Martin Taupau, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. Darcy Lussick, 11. Joel Thompson, 12. Curtis Sironen, 13. Jake Trbojevic, 14. Lewis Brown, 15. Addin Fonua-Blake, 16. Frank Winterstein, 17. Lloyd Perrett

Off contract: Cade Cust, Jackson Hastings, Jack Gosiewski, Lewis Brown, Cameron Cullen, Lachlan Croker, Brian Kelly, Apisai Koroisau, Shaun Lane, Darcy Lussick, Curtis Sironen, Akuila Uate, Jonathan Wright

Betting: $23

Canberra Raiders - 11th

It all went wrong for the Raiders in 2017. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 11th. With most of the roster off contract and hurting off the back of a sorry 2017 campaign, the Raiders will come out harder and more disciplined in 2017. The loss of Josh Hodgson, and a lack of creativity in the halves will cripple them however.

The star: Jordan Rapana. An electrifying, game-breaking weapon on the wing, whose form in 2017 covered up some disastrous performances by his teammates. The 2017 Dally M winger of the year is set for big things again this season, Raiders fans will just be praying his teammates come along for the ride.

Who needs to step up: Joey Leilua. The other half of Leipana needs to get back to his monstrous best in 2018 after a nightmare 2017 season, in which dropped balls and silly penalties proved costly for the team on more than a few occasions.

The young gun: Nick Cotric. The Dally M Rookie of the Year lit up the league in 2017 with his incredible combination of size, speed and power. Remarkably still only 19, Cotric has already been mentioned as a State of Origin bolter this season.

The weakness: Hooker. No other team in the NRL has a more obvious sore spot than the Raiders do at number nine. The loss of Josh Hodgson to an ACL injury is disastrous for the club, and as yet there is no obvious solution to fill in, with Siliva Havili, Craig Garvey and Aidan Sezer all potential replacements.

The quote: Jarrod Croker - "We're disappointed with our season last year, so we've definitely been working on a few things. It's such a tight comp there is probably going to be only be about two to six points between missing and making the top-four, so you've got to close out every game you can. It's hard to narrow it (the close losses) down to one thing but we had our chances in all those games, a few lapses in concentration cost us and if you rectify that it can really turn a season around."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 10th, 2016 - 2nd (preliminary finals), 2015 - 10th

Coach: Ricky Stuart. Captain: Jarrod Croker

Gains: Craig Garvey, Brad Abbey (Bulldogs), Charlie Gubb (Warriors), Stefano Hala, Michael Oldfield (Panthers), Liam Knight (Roosters), Siliva Havill (Dragons), Sam Williams (Wakefield), Sitiveni Moceidreke (Rabbitohs), Ata Hingano (Warriors)

Losses: Scott Sorensen (Sharks), Dave Taylor (released by Toronto), Jeff Lima, Adam Clydsdale (retired), Kurt Baptiste (Leigh Centurions), Lachlan Croker (Sea Eagles), Clay Priest (Bulldogs), Brent Naden (Knights), Eddie Aiono (Wentworthville), Erin Clark (released)

Best team: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Jordan Rapana, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Sia Soliola, Bench: 14. Craig Garvey, 15. Joseph Tapine, 16. Luke Bateman, 17. Charlie Gubb

Off contract: Masivesi Dakuwaqa, Blake Austin, Luke Bateman, Jarrett Bolland, Cooper Bambling, Shannon Boyd, Bill Cullen, Dunamis Lui, Jack Murchie, Siliva Havili, Michael Oldfield, Daniel Keir, Jacob McGrath, Josh Papalii, Junior Paulo, Aidan Sezer, Iosia Soliola, Craig Garvey, Charlie Gubb (club option for 2019)

Betting: $21

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs - 12th

Greg Eastwood carts the ball up in a pre-season clash. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 12th. Could go either way with a number of high-profile off-season signings holding the key to their 2018 fortunes. Teams will once again fear coming up against them, but they'll lack the points to make it into the top eight.

The star: Josh Jackson. Epitomises the Bulldogs spirit with his hard-as-nails, unrelenting style.

Who needs to step up: Kieran Foran. Years of off-field instability and injuries have derailed the former superstar's career. Now, behind a powerful forward pack, it's Foran's time to make his mark again. The Dogs need him to shine.

The young gun: Marcelo Montoya. The Fijian international impressed in his first season of NRL last year, scoring 12 tries. At only 22, 2018 is shaping up to be a huge year for the big winger.

The weakness: Outside backs. The Bulldogs appear to be missing some potency in the outside backs, with an untested fullback in Moses Mbye linking up with a few experienced heads who've struggled in attack under Des Hasler. Bulldogs fans will be hoping Dean Pay turns things around, but at the moment the backs scream lack of points.

The quote: Josh Jackson on Dean Pay - "He (Pay) wants us to play aggressive. Every coach wants their team to play aggressive. Looking back at the way the Dogs were in the past, they had a pretty aggressive team. But the best thing for us is he's really simplified things. We have worked hard on basic skills, basic catching and passing and things like that because last year they let us down a hell of a lot."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 11th, 2016 - 7th, 2015 - 5th

Coach: Dean Pay. Captain: Josh Jackson

Gains: Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers), Kieran Foran (Warriors), Moses Suli (Wests Tigers), Fa'amanu Brown (Cronulla), John Olive (Gold Coast), Clay Priest (Canberra)

Losses: James Graham (St George Illawarra), Josh Reynolds (Wests Tigers), Brad Abbey (Canberra), Craig Garvey (Canberra), Sam Kasiano (Melbourne), Brenko Lee (Gold Coast), Tyrone Phillips (Penrith)

Best team: 1. Moses Mbye, 2. Brett Morris, 3. Josh Morris, 4. Will Hopoate, 5. Marcelo Montoya, 6. Kieran Foran, 7. Matt Frawley, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Michael Lichaa, 10. Aiden Tolman, 11. Josh Jackson, 12. Adam Elliott, 13. David Klemmer. Bench: 14. Fa'amanu Brown, 15. Greg Eastwood, 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 17. Danny Fualalo
Off contract: Clay Priest, Tom Carr, Josh Cleeland, Greg Eastwood, Asipeli Fine, Matt Frawley, Kayne Kalache, Elie El-Zakhem, Brenko Lee, Lachlan Lewis, Rhyse Martin, Brett Morris, Josh Morris, Zac Woolford, Jeremy Marshall-King, Mason Cerruto (club option for 2019)

Betting: $34

South Sydney Rabbitohs - 13th

Sam Burgess will lead the Bunnies pack from the front. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 13th. Too much pressure on Sam Burgess and Greg Inglis to get the Bunnies out of their rut. Will struggle.

The star: Sam Burgess. One of the game's great leaders, Burgess will have a big task on his hands to turn the Bunnies' fortunes around in 2018. Leads by example, now just needs to get his brothers to follow suit.

Who needs to step up: George Burgess. From the highs of 2014, few players have experienced such an on-field decline. Still has all the tools to be one of the premier props in the game.

The young gun: Cameron Murray. Showed enough in nine 2017 games to prove he will be one of the NRL's stars in years to come. A big effort player.

The weakness: The wingers. Robert Jennings, Richard Kennar and Campbell Graham all loom as wing options this season, but none standout as game-breakers. Thankfully names like Inglis, Gagai and Johnston fill out the rest of outside backs.

The quote: Anthony Seibold - "There's a saying that winning starts in the locker room, and I'm a big believer in that. And I've said from the start, one of my key triggers as a coach is building positive relationships with both staff and players. It's got to be our priority. The players need to know each other. So we've spent a lot of time investing in relationships and that's been worthwhile for us. We're a long way down the ladder and I'm a realist in knowing how far we have to climb."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 12th, 2016 - 12th, 2015 - 7th

Coach: Anthony Seibold. Captain: Greg Inglis

Gains: Jesse Arthars, Dean Britt, Vincent Leuluai, Mark Nicholls (Melbourne), Billy Brittain (Queensland Cup), Dane Gagai, Jacob Gagan (Newcastle), Richard Kennar (Canterbury), Jesse Martin (Manly), Junior Tatola (Wests Tigers)

Losses: Anthony Cherrington (retired), Bryson Goodwin (Super League), Jack Gosiewski (Manly), Aaron Gray (Cronulla), Luke Kelly, Dane Nielsen, David Tyrell (released), Robbie Rochow (Wests Tigers)

Best team: 1. Alex Johnston, 2. Campbell Graham, 3. Greg Inglis, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Richard Kennar, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. Tom Burgess, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Zane Musgrove, 11. John Sutton, 12. Angus Crichton, 13. Sam Burgess. Bench: 14. Cameron Murray, 15. Kyle Turner, 16. Jason Clark, 17. George Burgess

Off contract: Braidon Burns, Billy Brittain, Jason Clark, Robbie Farah, Tyrell Fuimaono, Hymel Hunt, Robert Jennings, John Sutton, Adam Doueihi, Connor Tracey, Mark Nicholls, Jesse Martin, Jacob Gagan, Junior Tatola, Vincent Leulua

Betting: $17

Wests Tigers - 14th

Josh Reynolds is a great addition for the Tigers. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 14th. Are moving in the right direction under Ivan Cleary, but the Tigers need another couple of years of building before they push for finals footy.

The star: Josh Reynolds. The heart and soul of Belmore, Reynolds is a great addition for the Wests Tigers. Unpredictable and dangerous in attack, fearless and aggressive in defence, Reynolds brings a great attitude to Concord.

Who needs to step up: Tui Lolohea. Came into the Tigers setup carrying a bit too much weight around in 2017. With a big pre-season under his belt, Tigers fans will be hoping Lolohea reaches the great heights we all know he's capable of. Needs to make the fullback jersey his own.

The young gun: Esan Marsters. The 21-year-old impressed in 113 games at right centre in 2017, bursting onto the scene and scoring five tries.

The weakness: The spine. Reynolds is a bright spot in a spine that looks like it may struggle to create points. Matt McIlwrick, Luke Brooks and Lolohea need to improve in attack if the Tigers are to make the finals.

The quote: Ivan Cleary - "Pre-season is important every year but there is a bit of new direction. All the new guys have turned up motivated and looking to train hard and looking to add value. Not just on the training field and in the gym but also just in and around the place."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 15th, 2016 - 9th, 2015 - 14th

Coach: Ivan Cleary. Captains: Russell Packer, Josh Reynolds, Chris Lawrence, Elijah Taylor, Benji Marshall.

Gains: Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), Pita Godinet (Manly), Benji Marshall (Brisbane), Ben Matulino, Tuimoala Lolohea (Warriors), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast), Taane Milne, Russell Packer (St George Illawarra), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury), Robbie Rochow (Melbourne), Corey Thompson (Widness), Alex Twal (Parramatta)

Losses: Matt Ballin, Jamal Idris (retired), Kyle Lovett (Leigh), Jeremy Marshall-King (Canterbury), Mitchell Moses (Parramatta), Jordan Rankin (Huddersfield), Ava Seumanufagai (Cronulla), James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters), Aaron Woods (Canterbury)

Best team: 1. Tuimoala Lolohea, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Mahe Fonua, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Ben Matulino, 9. Jacob Liddle, 10. Russell Packer, 11. Chris Lawrence, 12. Chris McQueen, 13. Elijah Taylor, 14. Benji Marshall, 15. Alex Twal, 16. Robbie Rochow, 17. Sauaso Sue

Off contract: Benji Marshall, Esan Marsters, JJ Felise, Tim Grant, Kevin Naiqama, Sauaso Sue, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Bayley Sironen, Pita Godinet

Betting: $67

New Zealand Warriors - 15th

Can Blake Green turn the Warriors fortunes around? Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 15th. Could do anything, but if history is anything to go by, probably won't. Optimists have pointed to the addition of Blake Green as crucial to turning the club's fortunes around, but with largely the same team that lost nine-straight to close out the 2017 season, the Warriors attitude problems will cruel them again.

The star: Shaun Johnson. The Warriors will once again rely on their brilliant halfback to provide the spark and create the points this season. With a smart operator in Blake Green by his side, SJ is set for big things, again.

Who needs to step up: Adam Blair. Brought in as a leader of the pack, so much of the Warriors success will rest on Blair, and more importantly his mindset. Throughout his career the fiery prop has been inconsistent, and was accused of not giving it his all in an often-dominated Tigers pack. The Warriors will be need him to step up in the good, and bad times in 2018.

The young gun: Isaiah Papali'i. The 19-year-old has been compared to Simon Mannering due to his incredible work rate and leadership qualities. Was named Warriors u-20s Player of the Year in 2016, and has seven NRL appearances to his name.

The weakness: Attitude. For too long the Warriors have underachieved, leaving their passionate fans scratching their heads as to how it so often goes so wrong. This pre-season the club has spoken of a shift in culture, with a brutal conditioning regime whipping them into shape both mentally and physically. At this stage, we'll believe it when we see it.

The quote: Stephen Kearney - "We want to play finals footy and I don't think it's beyond our capabilities - that's the reality, every team does. I feel confident (in) the guys we've got and recruited in terms of players and staff, that it's a process where we're walking in the right direction."

Ladder finishes in past three seasons: 2017 - 13th, 2016 - 10th, 2015 - 13th.

Coach: Stephen Kearney. Captain: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Key gains: Adam Blair (Broncos), Tohu Harris (Storm), Blake Green (Manly), Peta Hiku (Warrington), Gerard Beale (Sharks), Agnatius Paasi (Titans), Leivaha Pulu (Titans), Anthony Gelling (Wigan), Matiu Love-Henry (Broncos), Karl Lawton (Titans)

Key losses: Kieran Foran (Bulldogs), Ryan Hoffman (Storm), Jacob Lillyman (Knights), Ben Matulino (Tigers), Charlie Gubb (Raiders), Bodene Thompson (Leigh), Manu Vatuvei (Salford, mid-2017), Ata Hingano (Raiders)

Best team: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2. David Fusitu'a, 3. Gerard Beale, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Peta Hiku, 6. Blake Green, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Adam Blair, 9. Issac Luke, 10. James Gavet, 11. Leivaha Pulu, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Simon Mannering. Interchange: Karl Lawton, Agnatius Paasi, Albert Vete, Bunty Afoa.

Off contract: Manaia Cherrington, Matiu Love-Henry, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Anthony Gelling, Ken Maumalo, Junior Pauga, Nathaniel Roache, Zac Santo, Patrick Sipley, Jazz Tevaga

Betting: $34

Gold Coast Titans - 16th

Garth Brennan faces an uphill battle on the Gold Coast. Pic: Getty

Predicted finish: 16th. Garth Brennan has inherited a sorry situation on the glitter strip. They'll fight hard, but with so much pressure on the shoulders of young halves, they'll struggle. Big time.

The star: Ashley Taylor. A wonderful youngster who could become one of the greats of the game. Garth Brennan has loaded the pressure on his 22-year-old halfback for the season ahead, saying he needs to justify his big price tag and become a leader.

Who needs to step up: Kane Elgey. Was a star in 2015, before a torn ACL threw his career off course. Couldn't get back to his best in 2017. This season is huge for his career. Taylor needs the help.

The young gun: Jair Arrow. The 22-year-old is looking to make the lock position his own in his first year at the Titans. A tough, hard-working forward.

The weakness: The bench. While the top 13 looks solid, the Titans could be in trouble if they cop a few injuries, after enduring a player drain over the off-season. The bench could use some backup.

The quote: Garth Brennan - "If you wanted someone to bat for your life, Steve (Waugh) was maybe not as talented as brother Mark, but you knew when the big moment came he would deliver, We've got some talent in our football team as well, but Steve had that mental toughness you look for and that's what I want in my team; if we have to grind a win out and do it tough we can."

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 15th, 2016 - 8th, 2015 - 14th

Coach: Garth Brennan. Captain: Ryan James

Gains: Jai Arrow (Broncos), Mitch Rein, Bryce Cartwright, Leilani Latu (Panthers), Will Matthews (Dragons), Michael Gordon, Kiah Cooper (Roosters), Brenko Lee (Bulldogs), Brendan Elliot (Knights)

Losses: Jarryd Hayne (Eels), Brenton Lawrence (retired) Chris McQueen (Tigers), Nathanial Peteru (Leeds), Leivahu Pulu, Agnatius Passi (Warriors), Tyrone Roberts (Wolves), Daniel Vidot (retired), Pat Vaivai (Leigh), Ben Nakubuwai (Salford), Dan Sarginson (Wigan), Eddy Pettybourne (Toulouse), John Olive (Bulldogs), Karl Lawton (Warriors)

Best team: 1. Michael Gordon, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Konrad Hurrell, 4. Brenko Lee, 5. Dale Copley, 6. Kane Elgey, 7. Ashley Taylor, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Nathan Peats, 10. Leilani Latu, 11. Ryan James, 12.Kevin Proctor, 13. Bryce Cartwright. Bench: 14. Mitch Rein, 15. Morgan Boyle, 16. Jai Arrow, 17. Will Matthews

Off contract: Dale Copley, Anthony Don, Kane Elgey, Keegan Hipgrave, John Olive, Paterika Vaivai, Brendan Elliot, Ryan Simpkins, Jack Stockwell, Kiah Cooper, Mitch Rein (player option for 2019), Will Matthews

Betting: $67

With AAP