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NRL 2019 predictions: Could there be a surprise premiership contender?

On Monday, we kicked off our day-by-day 2019 NRL season preview with former coach Anthony Griffin taking a look at how Brisbane, Canterbury, Canberra and Penrith will go this year.

Yesterday, Adam ‘mad dog’ MacDougall looked at the Warriors alongside his former teams – Souths, the Roosters and of course the Newcastle Knights.

And today NRL legend Corey Parker analysed how North Queensland, the Dragons, Gold Coast and Cronulla will compete in 2019.

Check out Corey’s predictions below.

CRONULLA SHARKS

It’s been a huge off-season for the Cronulla Sharks with John Morris taking over Shane Flanagan as coach with Flanno copping the full brunt of the NRL after being in contact with the club whilst suspended in 2014.

They also suffered a huge fine for breaching the salary cap in recent years, while Barry Russell also resigned as CEO.

Valentine Holmes left the club to pursue a career in the NFL, but Shaun Johnson has arrived in a much needed boost for the Shire club.

Parker says they still have what it takes to be a force.

“They’ve got enough experience and enough old heads at the Sharks to be able to still be a force in the 2019 season,” Parker said.

“I think Shaun Johnson – he’ll take a bit of time to fit in that role.

“It’ll certainly be a change, but expect the Sharks to be where you’d expect them to be.”

2018 FINISH: 8th

2019 MAJOR ROSTER CHANGES

IN: Shaun Johnson, Josh Morris.

OUT: Kurt Dillon, Valentine Holmes, Edrick Lee, Ricky Leutele, Luke Lewis, Joseph Paulo, Jesse Ramien.

 

GOLD COAST TITANS

There were positive signs for the Gold Coast in 2018 and with a couple of handy additions, the Titans will be hoping to play finals footy this season.

It’s a squad full of potential and with Garth Brennan now having another pre-season under his belt, they’re a chance to make the eight.

Parker says it’s a big year for star halfback Ash Taylor.

“Ash Taylor is an exceptional player, he just needs a bunch of teammates around to him share the load,” Parker said.

“When you’re on big money you need to come up with the big plays and Ash shied away from that at times last year.

“We’ve all seen glimpses of consistency and that’s certainly going to be a part of his game this year.

“He’s 23 now and he’s played close to 100 First Grade games if not a little bit more, so he needs to step up.”

2018 FINISH: 14th.

2019 MAJOR ROSTER CHANGES

IN: Shannon Boyd, Ryley Jacks, Brian Kelly, Tyrone Peachey, Tyrone Roberts.

OUT: Kane Elgey, Brendan Elliott, Joe Greenwood, Konrad Hurrell, Ryan Simpkins.

 

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

It’ll be an unfamiliar look for the Cowboys with no Johnathan Thurston this year, although they have two more than capable halves in Michael Morgan and Te Maire Martin.

The club has also had an eventful off-season with the sacking of Ben Barba, while Jordan Kahu has been brought over from Brisbane to replace him.

Parker says a strong forward pack could be the key to making a serious dent into the competition this season.

“I think they’ve recruited well,” Parker said.

“They need to, they needed change, they’ve got Jordan Kahu and he’s a fine player.

“They’ve got some positions covered now.

“Look for them to be on the big improve from what we saw last year.”

2018 FINISH: 13th.

2019 MAJOR ROSTER CHANGES

IN: Kurt Baptiste, Jordan Kahu, Nene Macdonald, Josh McGuire, Tom Opacic.

OUT: Josh Chudleigh, Lachlan Coote, Shaun Fensom, Kane Linnett, Ethan Lowe, Johnathan Thurston, Antonio Winterstein.

 

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

It’s been a huge off-season for the Dragons for both the right and wrong reasons.

The Dragons bolstered their play-making stocks with Corey Norman moving to the Red V, however the impending sexual assault charges and standing down of Jack de Belin have been less than ideal.

With a spine consisting of Norman, Gareth Widdop, Ben Hunt and Cameron McInnes, Parker says the Dragons could be a threat for the premiership.

“Corey Norman’s had a move and they’ve pushed Widdop to fullback,” Parker said.

“I’m not sure if that’ll stick or how that’ll look because they’ve got some great talent.

“Consistency is going to be on their radar.

“It’s an exciting time if you’re a St George fan.”

2018 FINISH: Semi-finals.

2019 MAJOR ROSTER CHANGES

IN: Lachlan Maranta, Corey Norman, Jonus Pearson, Mikaele Ravalawa, Korbin Sims.

OUT: Leeson Ah Mau, Reuben Garrick, Nene Macdonald, Kurt Mann, Jason Nightingale, Hame Sele.

 

Click ‘play’ to hear Corey’s predictions in full.

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