2014 kicked off with some awesome footy played at the NRL Nines in Auckland but now it's time for the real footy to begin. This season will be very close, with many teams able to beat each other and each team has a few players who can win a game thanks to their speed, footwork, strength and most importantly their rugby league knowledge. I'm going to look at a few teams who will be hoping that they run out on grand final day and lift that special trophy.
The Roosters are the champions and will once again be very good this season. They have a big forward pack led by Kiwi props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Moa who both do a great job of all the tough work. Sonny Bill Williams will be hoping to leave rugby league as a winner before going back to rugby next season and he is a very dangerous player who can change the game with one run, one offload or one big tackle. They also have James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce who have a good combination together and both have well rounded games - the are good kickers, good passers and run the ball well.
Gamebreaker - Michael Jennings is the gamebreaker for the Roosters. He's a centre who is very powerful and fast as well as being very tough. Watch out any time that Jennings has the ball as he is a very difficult player to tackle.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs were unlucky to not make the final last season as they were one of the best teams all season. They have the Burgess brothers - Sam, Luke, Tom and George playing for them and they are all massive! They give the Rabbitohs one of the biggest forward packs in the NRL and this will help they skillful guys in the back line have more impact. Dylan Walker is a young player who will play number 6, he's very quick and strong and with one of the best try scorers in the league, Nathan Merritt on the wing expect lots of attacking footy.
Gamebreaker - Easy choice here, it's Greg Inglis. This guy is a beast who has it all - he's quick, big, strong and willing to do anything for his team.
North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys won the NRL Nines and look like they may finally make a big impact in the league. They have the best half in the world - Jonathan Thurston and he will lead the Cowboys around the field. He'll be yelling at his players, making sure they are where they need to be as well as showing his skills as he is a great kicker and passer. The Cowboys also have one of the best front rows in the league with James Tamou and Matt Scott both playing for Australia with Tamou being one of the best players at the Nines - not bad for a big fella!
Gamebreakers - I have to choose two gamebreakers, Jason Taumalolo and Tariq Sims. They are both second rowers who will play out wide and they're both very big young men. Imagine being as big as them but being able to run as fast as a winger!? Well that's what they can do and I'm happy I don't have to try tackle them.
New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors have a very good team, but they will have to win their first few games to make sure that they can keep up with the best teams. Sam Tomkins is a very good player who is very difficult to tackle, even thought he is a bit small. The Warriors will need Shaun Johnson to play well every week, which is very hard to do! They do have some help though with Chad Townsend going to support Johnson in the halves. The big boys up front are also very good with Ben Matulino, Suaia Matagi, Sam Rapira, Charlie Gubb and Jacob Lillyman all great forwards who have all the skills as well as being tough footy players.
Gambreaker - Konrad Hurrell is a very quick, strong centre who is nearly impossible to tackle. He needs to be a better defender but any time that he gets the ball will be exciting to watch.
Manly Sea Eagles
Manly are always going to be tough to beat and have some of the best players in the league to make you pay for any mistakes. Glenn and Brett Stewart are brothers who share a close relationship and we can see that on the field as the look like they can read each other's minds. Steve Matai and Jamie Lyon, Manly's centres are very experienced and have all the tricks up their sleeves while their forward pack is as tough as steel.
Gamebreakers - Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans. These two form a very exciting halves combination and they both have a wide range of skills as well as being very, very tough defenders.