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SEASON PREVIEW | 2018 Intrust Super Cup

In a week’s time Queensland Rugby League’s 2018 Intrust Super Cup competition will get underway as defending the PNG Hunters look to defend their title.

2018 is the first year without the National Youth competition which will see the spotlight shine brightly on the second-tier competitions not only in Queensland, but also down south in New South Wales.  This is an exciting prospect for die-hard fans of the Intrust Super clubs and casual observers alike, making the new season even more exciting.

Not only are there a bunch of young prospects coming through the ranks, but in addition there is a few big names gracing the competition looking for redemption, a path back into the NRL.  At the top of the list is Todd Carney, with Dave Taylor on his heels.  There’s no better place than the local surrounds of suburban Brisbane grounds, or the great regional centres of the Intrust Super Cup to see some former NRL stars re-boot their careers.

Here’s a comprehensive look at all fourteen teams taking part in this year’s competition.

TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS

Last Season – 6th – W 12 – L 9 – D 2 (Loss to Easts Wk 1 Finals)
First Match – Sat 10th March 6pm – Away to Mackay Cutters
First Home Match – Sat 24th March 6pm v Northern Pride

Gains:  Krys Freeman (Capras), Rod Griffin (Bulldogs), Jaelen Feeney (Newcastle Knights), Joe Boyce (Broncos / Souths Logan), Andrew Davey (Mackay Cutters), Levi Dodd (St George Illawarra), Kalifa Faifai Loa (St George Illawarra), Duane Dempsey (Cowboys NYC), Michael Carroll (Cowboys NYC), Zach Docker-Clay (HKR-UK Championship)

Losses:  Anthony Mitchell (retired), Michael Parker-Walshe (retired), Dan Beasley (French League)
Blake Leary (Burleigh Bears), Oshae Tuiasau (relocated)

Squad Thoughts: Some familiar players turning out for the Blackhawks in 2018 with the squad boasting a great mix of experience and exciting young players. The arrival of in the form of PNG International Rod Griffin, who won the ISC with Ipswich Jets in 2015. Kalifa Faifai Loa and Krys Freeman will counter the loss of Michael Parker-Walshe, Dan Beasley, Blake Leary and Anthony Mitchell.

New recruits Jaelen Feeney and Zach Docker-Clay guided the Blackhawks well in their first trial as Townsville beat Central 40-8 after leading 36-0 at half time, showing the loss of Parker-Walsh may not be as huge as it could be.

Prediction: 1st – Premiers – This is surely the year for the Blackhawks. They have been strong every year since their arrival in 2015 without winning the title, but the additions on top of an already quality squad makes them look hard to beat. With the Cowboys close to full strength, the Blackhawks will probably profit from that arrangement more than most.

SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES

Last Season – 5th – W 15 – L 8  (Loss to Sunshine Coast Wk 1 Finals)
First Match – Sun 11th March 2pm – Away to Redcliffe
First Home Match – 3pm – Sun 18th v Tweed Heads Seagulls

Gains: Sam Lavea (Brisbane Broncos), Travis Waddell (Brisbane Broncos), Guy Hamilton (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Darcy Maroske (Norths Devils), Uiti Baker (Newcastle), William Samuel (Canberra NYC), Keenan Yorston (Gold Coast Titans NYC), Benaiah Bowie (Wynnum Seagulls), Lane Ferling (Cronulla NYC), Johnnie Fox (Redcliffe Dolphins)

Losses: Joe Boyce (Townsville Blackhawks), Matt Minto (work commitments)

Squad Thoughts: Matt Minto for Guy Hamilton is a great swap, even though Minto was outstanding for the Magpies in 2017. Fringe Broncos will always hang around at Davies Park, much like the Broncos head coach who can be found there from time to time. That gives Souths Logan an advantage as there are many Broncos fringe and Under 20’s players to be shared out among the feeder clubs.

The loss of Joe Boyce will hurt.  But Travis Waddell has re-signed with the club, and no doubt he will be providing the same quality service as his previous seasons at Davies Park. And our favourite Phil Dennis will hopefully continue to weave some magic in 2018.

Prediction: 2nd – Beaten Grand Finalists – They retain a lot of the good from 2017, and add a little extra quality in Guy Hamilton, who will go close to player of the season.

The Magpies had the best away record in 2017, so will only need to improve a little on their 50% home record to feature in the higher reaches of the Top 6 in 2018.

EASTS TIGERS

Last Season – 5th – W 15 – L 8  (Loss to Sunshine Coast Wk 1 Finals)
First Match – Sat 10th March 7pm – Away to Central Capras
First Home Match – Sun 18th 3pm v Mackay Cutters

Gains: Harley Aiono (Redcliffe Dolphins), Jack Anderson (Souths Logan Magpies), Lachlan Barr (Brisbane Broncos / Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Delroy Berryman (retirement), Joe Bond (Valley Diehards), Jayden Carroll (Canberra Raiders), Evander Cummins (Souths Logan Magpies), Jake Elmore (Melbourne Storm), Brett Greinke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Matt Groat (CQ Capras), Jaiyden Hunt (Melbourne Storm), Lachlan Lanskey (Brisbane Broncos), Kea Pere (Melbourne Storm), Josh Ralph (Gold Coast Titans), Jarred Tuite (Canberra Raiders), David Tyrrell (South Sydney Rabbitohs)

Losses: Mat Pitman (retired), Luke Lavelle (retired), Steve Thorpe (retired), Matt Zgrajewski (retired), Billy Walters (Melbourne Storm), David Murphy (released), Tekina Vailea (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles)

Squad Thoughts: Some quality recruiting at the Tigers, notably the reliable NRL workhorse David Tyrrell and Brett Grienke from the Rabbitohs. There’s a pile of great ISC players too with Joe Bond the most exciting. The underrated machine came close to a Broncos berth a few years back, but missed out and a subsequent horrific injury has slowed his progress. Hopefully for him, and rugby league fans everywhere in Queensland he finds his best form from a few seasons ago. Harley Aiono and Matt Groat look the pick of the other inclusions.

Throw in the allegiance with Melbourne Storm, and players like Billy Walters not looking out-of-place in the recent trial against the Cowboys, and the Tigers look ready to roar in 2018. Pardon the pun.

Prediction: 3rd (Knocked out Wk 3 Finals) – Easts Tigers are always thereabouts in top 6 contention in recent seasons, but with the continued support of the Melbourne Storm and some very smart recruiting, the Tigers look in good shape for a full tilt at the title. Will they suffer with Brodie Croft’s move to the big time full-time? Like Croft easily replacing Cronk so far – probably not, given how well Brayden Torpy filled in last season. Maybe we should have picked the Tigers for a premiership.

SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS

Last Season – 2nd – W 17 – L 6  (Beaten Grand Finalists)
First Match – Sat 10th March 12pm (TV Game) – Home to Burleigh Bears

Gains: Charlie Galo (Melbourne Storm), Jacob Hind (St George Illawarra Dragons), Keelyn Tuuta Edwards (St George Illawarra Dragons), Ben Fritz (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles), Brentt Warr (France), Jack Kavanagh (CQ Capras), Jake Ainsworth (Melbourne Storm NYC), William Toloi (Melbourne Storm NYC), Caleb Daunt (Melbourne Storm NYC), Matt Egan (Melbourne Storm NYC), Mackenzie Reid (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Lachlan Roe (Ipswich Jets), Kurt Aldridge (North Sydney), Liam Higgins (Souths Newcastle)

Losses: Lachlan Timm (Melbourne Storm), Jon Grieve (retired), Donald Malone (retired), Christian Morris (retired), Guy Hamilton (Souths Logan Magpies), Alex Bishop (Norths Devils), Tom Geraghty (Redcliffe Dolphins), Sam Wright (Norths Devils)

Squad Thoughts: Guy Hamilton and Alex Bishop are big losses from last year’s beaten Grand Finalists. But with the integration of the Under 20’s players and the Melbourne Storm’s ability to produce champions through their system, it will give a fresh batch of contracted players an opportunity to develop.

Like the Tigers fringe players who got a run out in the Cam-JT testimonial game, none looked out-of-place, a good sign for the Falcons ahead of the season. They will lose players to the Melbourne system, but that’s the price to pay for being a part of rugby league best oiled machine.

Prediction: 4th (Knocked out Wk 2 Finals) – The Falcons will be strong again in 2018, and being part of the rugby league production line that is the Melbourne Storm will only help them.  No doubt there will be a future star or two among the Melbourne NYC recruits. The loss of Guy Hamilton and Alex Bishop will hurt a little, but the Falcons are likely to have Ryley Jacks for a chunk of the season. At the very least for Storm fans, it will be worth tuning into Falcons games to see which star their legendary production line will produce.

PNG HUNTERS

Last Season – 1st – W 17 – L 5 – D 1  (Premiers)
First Match – Sun 11th March – Home to Ipswich Jets

Gains: Adam Korave (Ipswich League), Junior Rau (Hela Wigmen), Mekenzie Yei (Hela Wigmen), Kennedy Ben (Mendi Muruks), Julius Yakopa (Mendi Muruks), Stanley Olo (Rabaul Gurias), Illa Alu (Rabaul Gurias), Dilbert Isaac (Rabaul Gurias), Junior Bobby (Enga Mioks), Baunda Aba (Enga Mioks), Brendon Gutuno (NCDC Vipers), John Andy (Lae Tigers), Charlie Simon (Lae Tigers), Patrick Morea (POM Academy)

Losses: Wellington Albert (Widnes Vikings), Stanton Albert (Widnes Vikings), Israel Eliab (released), Bland Abavu (released), David Loko (released), Brandy Peter (released), Karo Kauna Jnr (released), Esau Siune (retired)

Squad Thoughts: There is quite a loss of experience heading into their 2018 season, with the loss of Albert brothers who were so good in 2017 for the Hunters and Kumuls, the often maligned Israel Eliab, and Bland Abavu. The Albert brothers are in the Super League, sadly their Kumuls team-mate Kato Ottio will not be playing alongside them. On the positive side, the Hunters welcome back the experience of Adam Korave.

There’s also the excitement of a new batch of players from the local PNG competition. Who will be the next Ase Boas or Willie Minoga? Two names that have been reliably informed as ones to watch are Stanley Olo and Charlie Simon of the newbies, and watch we will.

Most importantly, Willie Minoga continues in 2018.

Prediction: 5th – (knocked out 1st Wk Finals) – Nothing will ever beat their 2017 triumph, one of the great days of sports supporting in our life, a premiership winning try to Willie Minoga no less. Sadly, predicting lightning not to strike twice, as the loss of experience is a worry. Will be happily proven wrong, and can’t wait to catch up the mighty Hunters on their arrival to the SEQ’s grounds.

They were mighty competitive against the Broncos in the recent trial in Port Moresby, leading at half time but eventually losing out to the NRL quality that was the Broncos.

IPSWICH JETS

Last Season – 7th – W 12 – L 11
First Match – Sun 11th March 3pm – Away to PNG Hunters
First Home Match – Sat 17th March 12pm (TV Game) v Townsville Blackhawks

Gains: Marmin Barba (returns from injury/Mackay), Ben Shea (Wynnum-Manly Seagulls), Pio Seci (Fiji Bati – RLWC), Julian Christian (Brisbane Broncos NYC), Sam Caslick (Australian Rugby 7s), Silas Redd (USA – Washington NFL), Josh Robinson (Oakey Bears).

Losses: Lachlan Roe (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Mikaere Beattie (released).

Squad Thoughts – Eye Catching and mouth-watering at the same time is the return of Marmin Barba to combine with Michael Purcell. The Jets may well live up to their nickname with that much speed to burn in the backline. They will have two explosive try scoring machines at their disposal. There’s the widest possible mix of recruits from Rugby 7’s to NFL to Country Oakey to Fiji. No better place than the Walker Brother led Ipswich Jets to take a bit of everything and turn it into a winning group. Silas Redd, the NFL recruit made an impact with his first touches in their 4 way trial in New Zealand and will be certainly one to watch for progress.

Prediction: 6th – (Beaten 1st Week of Finals) – As a casual fan of the Ipswich Jets under the Walker Brothers tutelage, one can only hope that they feature in the sharp end of the Intrust Super Cup, especially with so many potential good news rugby league stories to be written with their new recruits and style of play. The Jets haven’t featured since winning the 2015 Grand Final, where their reward was having their side decimated by NRL recruitment (very few got a fair go mind you), but a return looks on the cards in 2018. Perhaps a last chance for the Walker Brothers to show their NRL readiness if a club could have the foresight to do something game changing rather than following the lead of the previous year’s champions.

BURLEIGH BEARS

Last Season – 9th – W 10 – L 13
First Match – Sat 10th March 12pm – Away to Sunshine Coast Falcons
First Home Match: Sat 17th March 4pm – v Redcliffe Dolphins

Gains: Blake Leary (Townsville Blackhawks), Justin Tavae (CQ Capras), Matt Robinson (France), Francis Fifita (Souths Logan Magpies), Jerome VeVe (Tweed Heads), Zae Wallace (Titans NYC), Josh Berkers (Coogee Dolphins), Kaleb Fauimoana (Cowboys NYC)

Losses: Connor Broadhurst (Capras), Darren Griffiths (retired), Waka Wanahi (retired), Dan Schwass (referee), Daymeric Pelo (Runaway Bay), Keanu Te Kiri (released)

Squad Thoughts: Blake Leary is a tremendous coup for the Bears, although one can see him making the step up for the Titans at some stage in 2018. Matt Robinson brings NRL experience too. They also will have two players vital to their 2016 title success in Jamal Fogarty and Pat Politoni from the start of the season. Star half Fogarty returning from a stint with Parramatta late last season. The team will be led up the middle by Luke Page, who impressed at the World Cup for PNG late last year. Losing the excellent Connor Broadhurst is a shame.

Prediction: 7th – Burleigh were one of the form teams in the back-end of the 2017 season, in an audacious bid for finals football from a long way down the ladder, and that usually leads to some decent momentum for the new season. A couple of key additions add a little extra class, and the Bears can improve again in 2018.

NORTHERN PRIDE

Last Season – 12th – W 6 – L 17
First Match – Sat 10th March 6pm – Home to Wynnum Seagulls

Gains: Todd Carney (Salford), Adrian Henley (Easts Tigers), Jack Murphy (England), Jonico Hardwick (Cairns Brothers), David Murphy (Easts Tigers), Brett Anderson (Innisfail Leprechauns), Jack Camponolo (Tully Tigers), James Clark (Canterbury Bulldogs)

Losses: Luke George (released), Khan Ahwang (released), Jack Brock (Mackay Cutters), Fred Koraba (released), Brad Lupi (Central Capras), Ben Reuter (released), Joel Riethmuller (retired), Marvin Toko (released)

Squad Thoughts: It all seems to be about Todd Carney as he makes his return to North Queensland in 2018 after he had previously had a stint playing and working in Atherton Roosters which led to an NRL Comeback. Whether this time it will end in NRL redemption is a big question waiting to be answered, but for the time being he could make himself an honorary North Queenslander for life if he can turn the fortunes of the Pride around. Hopefully it doesn’t go the way of Chris Sandow’s return for Norths last season for his and the competition’s sake.

Prediction: 8th – Todd Carney will bring a touch of class to the Pride but will he be enough to drag the Cairns based side back to the top? We say improvement from 2017 At the very least it will be interesting to see his progress throughout 2018. Without him, they could well slide down towards the bottom.

REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS

Last Season – 2nd – W 17 – L 6 (Beaten Wk 3 of Finals)
First Match – Sun 11th March 2pm – Home to Souths Logan Magpies

Gains: Tony Tumusa (CQ Capras), Obed Karwhin (North Sydney), Jeremy Hawkins (Melbourne Storm), Bryce Donovan (Newcastle Knights), Jake Sparey (Gold Coast Titans NYC), Kotoni Staggs (Brisbane Broncos NYC), Scott Schulte (Parramatta Eels), Jordan Pinnock (NZ Warriors NYC), James Taylor (Norths Devils), Toby Rudolf (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Manaia Rudolph (Canterbury Bulldogs), Josh Fauid (Brisbane Broncos NYC)

Losses: Jack Ahearn (Norths Devils), Tyson Gamble (Wests Tigers), Christian Hazard (Newcastle Knights), Matthew Lodge (Brisbane Broncos), Myles Taueli (Brisbane Broncos), Hayden Hansen (Swinton Lions, UK), Danny Bridge (Rochdale Rovers, UK), Nick Ritter (released), Joe Bradley (released), Brandon Lee (released), Johnnie Fox (released), Rulon Nutira (released), Harley Aiono (Easts Tigers)

Squad Thoughts: Hard to top last year’s headline act in Benji Marshall, who like Matt Lodge has reignited their NRL career thanks to a stint on the bayside. Two others begin their NRL journey in the excellent Christian Hazard and Tyson Gamble. That’s a lot of quality and experience missing from the side which finished 2nd in 2017. Of the gains for the upcoming season, Josh Fauid looks a real prospect for the Dolphins. Jeremy Hawkins is also a quality addition.

Prediction: 9th – As a lifelong Redcliffe fan, it pains to predict such a fall for the Dolphins, one that will probably be proven wrong and could come back to haunt.

WYNNUM SEAGULLS

Last Season – 10th – W 9 – L 14
First Match – Sat 10th March 6pm – Away to Northern Pride
First Home Match – Sun 18th March 3pm v Sunshine Coast Falcons

Gains: Michael Dobson (Salford Red Devils, UK), Matthew Allwood (New Zealand Warriors), Mitchell Cronin (Brisbane Broncos), Aaron Rockley (Brisbane Broncos), Alex Barr (Brisbane Broncos), Delouise Hoeter (Norths Devils), Lachlan Lee (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs), Atelea Vea (Leigh Centurions, UK) , Shaun Nona (Illawarra Cutters – late season 2017)

Losses: Mathew Seamark (retirement), Tanu Wulf (retirement), Andrew Clayton (retirement), Brendon Gibb (Souths Logan Magpies – midseason), Benaiah Bowie (Souths Logan Magpies), Travis Burns (released), Mitchell Buckett (released), Ben Shea (released), Paora Kemp (released), Will Brimson (released), Dan Wallace (released)

Squad Thoughts: Michael Dobson is another arrival from Super League after Travis Burns joined the Seagulls last season. Burns coincidentally becomes one of the losses for 2018. Delouise Hoeter is a tremendous gain, and the Seagulls now have a prolific try scorer in their backline. Throw in late 2017 season recruit Shaun Nona, who has tasted success in Intrust competitions both sides of the border, and Wynnum look like they will surely improve in 2017. But have they improved enough against some of the recruiting by the teams above.

Prediction: 10th – Wynnum look like a fringe top 6, and going beyond that isn’t out the question. At the very least they look like they have a lot of points in them for 2017. It looks like it will be as tight a contest as ever for the finals spots if we are picking Wynnum this low down. Who knows, the 5th to 11th teams will probably only be separated by four points.

MACKAY CUTTERS

Last Season – 8th – W10 – D2 – L11
First Match – Sat 10th March 6pm – Home to Townsville Blackhawks

Gains: Bailey Hartwig (Norths Devils), Jack Hickson (Woden Valley Rams), Tyson Martin (returning), Jordan Grant (Wests Tigers), Darcy Cox (Wests Tigers), Jack Brock (Northern Pride), Ryan Kinlyside (Souths Sharks Mackay), Walter Lauenstein (Runaway Bay Seagulls).

Losses: Jordan Pereira (St George Illawarra Dragons), Cooper Bambling (Canberra Raiders), Jack Blagbrough (Leigh Centurions), Andrew Davey (Townsville Blackhawks), Setaimata Sa (MDRL), Jake Eden (MDRL), Isaac Richardson (MDRL), Kouma Samson (off contract), Jacob Pottinger (off contract), Gareth Moore (off contract), Semisi Tyrell (off contract).

Squad Thoughts: The Cutters has seen two of their better players in 2017 leave for a crack at the NRL in Jordan Pereira and Cooper Bambling, but it is not all bad news as Tyson Martin returns to the club. Also worth keeping an eye on is big man Jordan Grant who was tempted out of the Wests Tigers system for a shot at the NRL through the Cutters and Cowboys.

Prediction: 11th – Hard to judge how the Cutters will go in 2018, they haven’t appeared to have done as much big name recruitment as other teams, but that doesn’t always lead to Intrust Super Cup success. Will probably be the team that makes these predictions look foolish and surprise all and finish 4th or higher.

CENTRAL CAPRAS

Last Season – 14th – W 4 – D 1 – L 18
First Match – Sat 10th March 7pm – Home to Easts Tigers
Premiership Odds – $26.00

Gains: Dave Taylor (Toronto Wolfpack), Jerry Key (Wests Tigers),  Jason Schirnack (Newcastle Jets), Connor Broadhurst (Burleigh Bears), Blake Goodman (Wests Tigers), Dave Cowhan (Albury Thunder), Jamie Hill (St Mary’s), Zeik Foster (Mounties),  Peter Rogers (Biloela Panthers), Aaron Teroi (Newcastle Thunder UK), Darcy Davey (Norths Chargers), Jamie Minto (Yeppoon Seagulls), Tyson White (Gladstone), Sonny Kerr (Mareeba Cairns), Jack White (Melbourne Storm NYC), Jayden Alberts (Isis Devils / CQ Capras 20s), Ryan Flintham (Yeppoon Seagulls / CQ Capras 20s), Jace O’Neill (Yeppoon Seagulls / CQ Capras 20s), Aaron Flanagan (Bundaberg 20s / Easts Tigers), Lachlan Norris (Brothers Rockhampton / CQ Capras 20s), Jyde Dwyer (Norths Devils)

Losses: Guy Williams (Norths Devils), Gavin Hiscox (retired), Krys Freeman (Townsville Blackhawks), Matt Groat (Easts Tigers), Bill Cullen (mid-season Canberra Raiders), Justin Tavae (Burleigh Bears), Jack Kavanagh (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Reece Baker (Moranbah Miners), Marco De La Pena (injured), Aleki Falepaini (mid-season Fassifern Bombers), Nathan Young (Tweed Heads), Josh Johnston (work), Mark Johnstone (injured), Liam Pickersgill (travel), Cody Grills (Yeppoon), Sam Smith (released)

Thoughts: Players don’t come much bigger, and names much bigger in the Intrust Super Cup in 2018 than Dave Taylor aka Coal Train. After being released by the Toronto Wolfpack for playing up on a tour, Taylor has returned to where it all began in Rockhampton where his talent caught the eye of the NRL scouts so many years ago.

Outside of Taylor the Capras squad has seen some changes, with a lot of local talent added. The loss of Krys Freeman to Townsville will hurt, but the arrival of Connor Broadhurst from Burleigh won’t hurt their chances of escaping the cellar in 2018.

Prediction: 12th – Will the Coal Train give the Capras the boost to the side in the same proportion that he will provide sports writers all over Queensland with the licence to use Train based puns? The rugby league fans of success-starved Rockhampton and surrounds will certainly be hoping so. If he can behave himself and play to even 80% of the ability he has. It’s not all about the big man though, with a lot of new blood coming in, there’s surely a new star amongst them to burst onto the scene. The loss of Krys Freeman is a bit of a worry. Minto fans will notice another Minto in the line up for 2018.

NORTHS DEVILS

Last Season – 11th – W9 – L14
First Match – Sun 11th March 2pm – Home to Tweed Heads

Gains: Jack Ahearn (Redcliffe Dolphins), Guy Williams (CQ Capras), Alex Bishop (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Oshae Tuiasau (Townsville Blackhawks), Carne Doyle-Manga (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Sam Wright (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Nat McGavin (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (Newcastle Knights), Phoenix Hunapo (Tweed Heads Seagulls)

Losses: Billy Brittain (South Sydney), Mathiu Love-Henry (NZ Warriors), Delouise Hoeter (Wynnum Manly), James Taylor (Redcliffe Dolphins), Tama Koopu (Newcastle – local league).

Squad Thoughts: Alex Bishop is a very good addition having played a big part in the resurgence of the Sunshine Coast Falcons. Pheonix is a potentially great recruit too. The Devils will however miss a top player like Mathiu Love-Henry who is off to the NRL with the NZ Warriors, and the tries of Delouise Hoeter. They will also miss the work rate of hooker Billy Brittain.

Prediction: 13th – Possibly 13th is a little tough on the Devils but after improving to 11th in 2017. The losses of the squad heading into 2018 Intrust Super Cup season appears to have the Devils in decline. But it is a year of change as the Devils have a new CEO and Head Coach for the new season. Incoming coach is Rohan Smith, son of former NRL mentor Brian, and the new blood could well surprise some in 2018.

TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS

Last Season – 13th – W 5 – L 18
First Match – Sun 11th March 2pm – Away to Norths Devils
First Home Match – Sun 25th March 3pm v Burleigh Bears
Premiership Odds – $51.00

Gains: Hiale Roycroft (North Queensland Cowboys NYC), Jacob Pottinger (Mackay Cutters), Beau Cordtz (South Sydney NYC), Cheyne Whiteaw (North Sydney Bears), Rory Lillis (Gold Coast Titans NYC), Ethan Roberts (Gold Coast Titans NYC), Eli Levido (Nth Sydney Bears), Rhys Jacks (Toronto Wolfpack)

Losses: Nick Harrold (Tugun), Carne Doyle-Manga (Norths Devils), Phoenix Hunapo (Norths Devils)

Squad Thoughts: Rhys Jacks joins after his stint in Toronto, and along with Eli Levido provides a quality injection and some good coverage in the halves for the upcoming season. Losing two good players like Carne Doyle-Manga and Phoenix Hunapo to a team we predict they will be battling at the bottom with might come back to haunt them.

Prediction: 14th – If only the Tweed Heads Seagulls could play the PNG Hunters every week. The Seagulls got past the Hunters twice in 2017, the only team not to lose to the eventual Premiers. That last round win over the Hunters also saw them leapfrog the Capras off the bottom of the table and avoid the wooden spoon. But the wooden spoon has been threatening for some time, and we’re predicting 2018 is the season where they will end up with it.

QRL and Nothing But League Intrust Super Cup Team of the Year

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