The pain is almost over for league tragics

The long, long, long, wait is almost over —there are just six more sleeps until the 2013 NRL kick-off.

I have been counting the days for weeks and weeks for Thursday, March 7, when the Roosters and the Bunnies get the 2013 season under way.

The off-season seems to have dragged on longer than one of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s parliamentary speeches.

But I can now see the light. The footy tragics start looking at the calendar from January 1 wishing it was March straight after the Christmas and New Year period.

In recent days I have been assessing the playing rosters of the 16 clubs and I believe there are several clubs which just cannot make the top eight.

I expect Newcastle and the Roosters to be big improvers this year.

When deciding on my top eight, I used the old process of elimination.

I can’t find places for the New Zealand Warriors, Penrith, Parramatta and the Titans.

I believe these four teams will finish in the bottom four of the competition.

I’ll put my neck on the block and nominate the Titans as wooden spooners, in a photo finish from Penrith.

My boys, the Dragons, have had significant player changes in the past two or three years and I have to be honest they will be hard pressed to reach the play-offs. The culture of the Dragons is that they are always competitive and they fight hard, as the white jersey and big red vee carries so much history and the players who wear it are demanded by tradition to do their best.

My top eight, not in any particular order is, Bulldogs, Melbourne, Cronulla, Newcastle, Sydney Roosters, Souths, Manly and North Queensland.

I do think the Wests Tigers are right in finals contention with new coach Mick Potter, but I plumped for the Knights and Roosters just ahead of them.

The Sharks have had too much publicity about their chances and the focus is on them and coach Shane Flanagan.

Their fans are anticipating a big season and deep down harbour the dream of seeing the club’s first ever premiership.

With an abundance of new players joining the club in the past two seasons, particularly this off-season, the Shire club has had more publicity than anyone  since Captain James Cook arrived at Kurnell in 1770.

They have recruited heavily from Wests Tigers the past two years and the team could easily be renamed ‘‘Tiger Sharks.’’

The great thing about rugby league is we can have all our opinions and views and put forward our arguments and state our case. Rugby League is a hotbed of opinions that we can share with our mates, regardless of which teams we follow. You can argue till the cows come home with your buddies and it never breaks the friendship.

The best thing of all is the footy is back and you can be as sure as night follows day there will be the usual controversies on and off the field starting from round one.

Bring it on and all the best to whichever team you follow.

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