23 Bold Predictions for 2023

BY DAN

Welcome to 2023.

It’s a bit of a tradition around these parts to celebrate the new year by shooting some uncharacteristically bold and vibes based takes off into the universe. Call it cathartic. Call it laying down some markers so we can claim to be smarter than we are come the end of the season. Call it a bit of fun when we’re all still trying to work out if that Christmas ham is still good to eat (the answer is yes. And if you don’t eat yours I will).

Sometimes we do get things really, really right. A generous reading of last year’s takes was that we got 8 out of 22 predictions on the money. Three correct calls were worth celebrating (Hudson Young breakout, Corey Horsburgh putting it together, Adam Elliott to be quality). Some were the right vibe (Smell would be the primary edge option, Charnze would remain the first choice fullback) but incorrect. In that same vein we suggested the Milk would play a home final, and you know, AAMI isn’t technically home, but it sure feels like it at the moment. Some were down-right depressing to look back on (a game would be deferred because of ‘Rona, Jarrod Croker would be fine, Harry Rushton would debut).

But really, it wasn’t a good performance. You can either call that evidence of our idiocy, or maybe if you’re being kind, proof that the calls are indeed bold. But if we let the fact that we were wrong a lot deter us, we wouldn’t be still here. Let’s get into another set of bold predictions.

1. Hudson Young – Origin forward

Let’s double down on last year. In a sense this isn’t too bold, because Huddo was pushing for Australian squad selection in the lead-up to the World Cup. One of the Blues’ second-rowers plays out of position, and the other is less inspiring than a wet-fart into a microphone. Huddo provides the right mix of defensive stoicism and offensive excitement to make Origin his home.

2. Corey Horsburgh – also there.

While we’re at it, guess what? Red will be there too. The only reason the Horse hasn’t played Origin for the Maroons is to to with timing, of form and injury. Last year he had career highs in metres, tackle breaks, offloads, and generally being rad. This year the stars will finally align.

3. Josh Papalii steps back

Not from the Raiders. Woah slow down. I reckon Origin took it out of the big guy last year, and he might make a decision to step back to ensure he can continue the frankly stunning performance he put together in the post-Origin period (read about it here).

While we’re here, Jack will play as the bench utility because even Brad Fittler isn’t that slow to recognise an error.

4. Joe Tapine stays up

In a sense this shouldn’t be possible. He was so dominant last year, so far and away above his previous best, that it should be a standalone career season. But call it a hunch, but I’ve felt like his desire to take on leadership roles, and his witness to fitness (shouts to Roots Manuva and 2001) means this is the new ‘Joe’. At least for the next little while.

5. The over/under of David Fifita articles will be at 6.5 and i”m taking the over

We’ve already written ten articles about the probably futile chase of the David Fifita by the people’s heroes. I am so emotionally wrapped up in this that it’s hard to be rational about whether they’ll be successful in this chase, but you bet these pages will probably still be full of me trying to work out what the hell is going on.

6. If Fifita joins the team, he will come at some point in season 2023

This is bolder than you think. If they do manage to pull off one of the biggest status signings in recent Raiders’ history, the good guys would need to fund his 2023 wage (i.e whatever part of $1.2m is still remaining ) to get him to come early. That’s a lot of scrilla, but by the time Fifita makes a decision he’ll have already earned a third of his 2023 wage. Something tells me an agreement will be reached because the Titans would love to utilise that potential cap space to get involved in other chases.

Bonus prediction (actually not a bonus, I just didn’t want to have three goddamn predictions about Fifita): If he comes I reckon he plays his minutes in the middle before shifting to the edge, either towards the end of the year, or just in the off-season of 2023/4.

7. I will average 1.5 typos an article

Not technically Raiders, but I’m promising to lift my game. I mean, within reason.

8. Nic Cotric will bounce back

Speaking of lifting their game.

Much has been made of a supposed downswing from Nikola in season 2022. His yardage was down, at least partly driven by teams kicking almost exclusively to him to try and keep him out of yardage work. It was basically exactly where it had always been in his Raiders’ years. His tries were down too – but I’m yet to meet a winger who wasn’t the function of what was going on inside him. He still led the Raiders in tackle breaks, tackle breaks per game, 9th among wingers across the league. He still managed 12 line breaks (most in the team). It wasn’t *that* far from a good season. But many were hoping for another step up, instead of continuing to be *just* good, people are waiting for great.

It’s wild he’s only 24, and not even in his prime. Last year was consolidation. I reckon this year is even better.

Here’s our predictions from years past: 2020, 2021, 2022.

9. Trey Mooney will be playing major rotation minutes by the end of the season

Mooney has spent the best part of the last two years a hare’s breath away from first grade. That has come from a timing of his development and the quality players ahead of him, and style needed by V’Landysball. Now Elliott, Sutton, Hodgson and Rushton are all gone. The runway is clear for takeoff.

10. Harley Smith-Shields will end the year in the starting side

I think he’s coming for Seb Kris’ spot, but he can also play wing and probably even fullback in a pinch. There’s too much talent for him to be wasted in Cup footy all year.

11. Ricky Stuart will unintentionally invent a new meme this year

Weak-gutted dog reverberated through 2022 so powerfully I was surprised it didn’t make Business Weekly’s “Most Influential” list (that I may have just made up in my head). Next year I reckon he’s taking press conferences to new heights. What about ‘three-toed shit-slinger”? “Braindead polystyrene chewer?” Nah, I’ll leave it to Sticky. Here’s the real wordsmith.

12. Jarrod Croker won’t crack the 300 games

But he also won’t retire. I reckon his health doesn’t hold him back in 2023 but rather than depth at the centre position for the Milk make it hard for him to crack the line-up.

13. I will always find the “Jordan Rapana stinks” content produced by the Raiders soc med team funny

I am apparently a six year old at heart.

While we’re here, shouts to the best soc-med team in the competition. This New Year’s Resolutions’ video made me fist pump, and made me want to reach through the screen to hug Jarrod Croker and Harley Smith-Shields.

14. Adrian Trevilyan will be in the starting 17 by the end of the year.

I believe in this talent. He just needs to get healthy.

I actually think Tommy S will improve too, and have high hopes for Zac Woolford. I’m not sure how to reconcile all these views.

15. Smell will be more World Cup that early 2022

I’m choosing to put Smell’s underwhelming performance in 2022 down to his constantly changing role and his inability to appropriately prepare. The Milk will get one more good year out of the old timer.

Hold my hand. If we all believe it might happen.

16. Jamal Fogarty will end up with more try assists than Jack Wighton

This probably isn’t as bold as we’d hoped. Last year they had the same amount of try assists, and Jamal played a fair few less games. How about this….

16. Jamal Fogarty will have more than 20 try assists

Better. Bolder. His career high is 13, so obviously this is a bit of a step up. But he’s such a good kick close to the line, and he’ll have such a better relationship with his right side attack built on the back of a bit of continuity. I’m not crazy I swear.

17. Shaylee Bent will sign for the Milk.

Based on reporting. Based on vibes. Based on the random unverifiable rumours and assertions people send me. I reckon this one is happening. And that’s a perfect start for the Raiders.

18. The NRLW Raiders will make the finals in their first year.

I wanted to write that they won’t win the spoon, which while admirable for a first year team, isn’t exactly bold. If they get Bent (ha. yep, using that in a review) and build out a squad with talented players from a range of sports, they’ll start slow, but come good in true Canberra style.

19. Xavier Savage will be dropped at some point.

We have a tendency to view development as a linear process. In truth it is built by fits and starts. X is a first grade footy player, and has more upside than a cold beer on a summer’s day. But there’s things he needs to work on, and at some point this year Sticky will feel compelled for him to do it in Cup Footy. It won’t last long – think Papa’s forays into Cup footy. But it’ll happen.

20. I will go to Wagga and Canberra for games

As well as going to the Melbourne game. Three games in a season? What a world.

21. And I will meet three more of you.

Last year I met two people IRL because of this blog. Let’s up the stakes. Meet me for a beer on a sunny afternoon in front of the footy. But again, not so bold. What if.

21. I will drink beers with you good people after a Raiders’ finals win.

Nice.

22. If the Raiders sign Fifita, it means they’ll lose either Brad Schneider or Harley Smith-Shields.

The longer this dance goes on, the more chance there is for other teams to step in and steal the talent. I really hope I’m wrong on this one.

Gross. What a depressing way to end. Let’s lift the mood.

23. The Raiders will be better in 2023 than they were in 2022

Yeah they lost some middles, but they’ve got the young talent to replace them. And they’ve got more continuity and consistency, particularly in their spine. It’s time for a step up.

Do me a favour and like the page on Facebook,  follow me on Twitter, or share this on social media and I’ll show you how I can do the dance from the Men In Black song. Don’t hesitate to send us feedback (dan@sportress.org) or comment below if you think we are stupid. Or if we’re not.

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