2018 is here.
Yes I know that year went quickly. Yes I know were are getting old. As Jalen Rose says only Father Time is undefeated.
Anyway, we’ve decided this year we’re going to be positive about life. While most New Years resolutions fall by the wayside by mid-January (and this one will unlikely last that long) we think it’s important we look forward to this year with a sense of optimism. So the best way to do this is to give you our 11 bold predictions for this year.
I’m not going to lie to you, we’ve tried to be proper out there here. If we get even a couple of these right we’ll be stoked.
1. Despite the injury to Josh Hodgson, the Raiders will make the finals.
Look this is a big call. Almost every team that made the 8 last year has added talent and arguably gotten better. Moylan and Dugan to the Sharks. Maloney to the Panthers. An off-season for Norman and Moses to blend. The Cowboys, Roosters and Storm could probably start a whole other competition with the rosters they have. The Raiders have added not much (Charlie Gubb!) and lost their best player. But it’s going to happen. I can feel it in my (wish) bones.
2. Gary Belcher will be named to the immortals.
Look he’s the greatest fullback in history (take that Langlands and Slater!). It’s about time the Rugby League community recognised that.
3. Aidan Sezer will have a breakout year.
This is one reason it happens for the Raiders. We’ve banged on about this a bunch lately. But now Aidan has the keys to the Green Machine. At 26 he’s entering his prime and is ready to roll.
4. So will Jo Tapine.
He is going to be an 80 minute man this season. And he showed last year and the World Cup that he is ready to dominate on that left edge.
5. Ricky Stuart will smile in a press conference.
Picture it. It’s round 18. The Raiders have just thumped the league-leading Cowboys by 20. Jon Tuxworth, pen in hand leans over to Ricky and says “Ricky are you happy with the return to form of Josh Hodgson tonight? It seemed to spur the whole team on.”
The smallest of smiles emerges from the corner of Ricky’s mouth.
“Yeah mate. I am.”
6. Hodgson will return from injury in round 15.
I am not a tough human. By all accounts Josh Hodgson is a tough human. Every time he’s been injured for the Raiders he’s come back ahead of schedule. I don’t want him to rush back before he’s ready but I reckon he is rehabbing harder than I hit the Christmas ham.
7. Blake Austin will pass the ball to this right at some stage this year.
When I said bold I meant bold people! He can do it. I bet he’s been working all offseason on it. I believe Blake.
8. BJ Leilua, Josh Papalii and Junior Paulo will return to their 2017 NRL playing weight, and not their 2017 World Cup playing weight.
I don’t know how one goes about telling any of these guys to lose weight but Ricky seems to have done that. I hope they didn’t hurt him.
9. Someone will successfully tackle Jordan Rapana on first attempt.
It’s bound to happen eventually right? You know how a thousand monkeys with typewriters will eventually write Shakespeare? A thousand muppets will try to tackle Rapana this year. One will get lucky.
10. BJ is going to start the season hot and will be in the conversation for representative duties.
Yeah look I think this is a rehash from this time last year. BJ was primed to play at the highest level. But his discipline and the Raiders struggles let him down.
11. I will accept that the referees are doing their best and aren’t screwing the Raiders over at every opportunity.
Wow. That’s probably a bit too bold. Let’s try again.
11. I will not blame the referees in public for any and every Raiders loss.
Yeah. That’s a bit more achievable.