By Aaron Callaghan
The Unsportsmen are on the look out for volunteer guest writers, content creators, website editor etc. If you would like to be involved in the website click the email tab in the top right corner.
Week two is not too early to completely overreact about your team’s chances in this years premiership - case in point the Parramatta Eels are perched second on the ladder after recording two straight wins.
It is time to look at who is for real, who might be May premiers and rank each team in the way too early NRL power rankings. The criteria is simple and will have more of an effect as the year plays out;
Strength of schedule
Style of Play - Including offensive and defensive ranking.
The Unsportsmen power rankings will be reviewed on an ad-hoc basis, expect them ‘every couple of weeks’.
If you’ve got any thoughts hit the comments below and leave your opinion.
1. South Sydney
Two marquee wins against premiership heavyweights and contenders alike in Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons - The South Sydney Rabbitohs Football Club come in at number one on the first iteration of this years power rankings.
Wayne Bennet has the Rabbits looking ominous early, after two rounds Souths sit second. Their marquee win came against the Sydney Roosters in round one.
Cameron Murray looks to be an emerging super star and his work load and ability to control the middle allows Sam Burgess to shift wider and become a damaging ball runner again. Greg Inglis and Dane Gagai’s edge partnership will develop in time.
Souths are a premiership heavyweight.
2. Melbourne Storm
Cameron Smith is an ageing master of steering his team around the park. Love him or hate him - He is ageing like a fine wine.
The Storm handled the Broncos and handled the Raiders in Canberra. In terms of marquee win, defeating the Broncos as home and the Raiders away is a long bow to draw, the Storm are number two on weight of play style with the traditional Bellamy structure and Cameron Munster’s playmaking ability and lightning wingers mix like a Bunnings paint can.
The Storm will be top four by seasons end.
3. Wests Tigers
Wests Tigers currently sit first on the ladder. Michael Maguire was always going to increase the standard of football at Wests he is an excellent football coach showing faith in ageing veterans Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall have repaid the faith.
It is important to remember the Tigers were in a similar position last year after two rounds before fading through an inability to secure victory in close games often against lesser sides.
How real are the 2019 Tigers? Their first real test will be in round four against the Panthers.
4. Brisbane Broncos
Coming in at number four is the Brisbane Broncos. Beating the improved North Queensland Cowboys in Brisbane on a Friday night doesn't exactly qualify as a marquee win unless you believe in the 2019 Cowboys, which I don't quite see just yet, a larger sample size is needed to make a Cowboys judgement.
The Broncos can score points with Corey Oates starting out the season in hot try scoring form and the Broncos defence under Seibold's more aggressive defensive scheme. Taveta Pangai Junior looked like a superstar middle foward when manhandling the Cowboys forwards.
A 'good win' and a strong showing first up against the Storm sees the Broncos in fourth.
5. Parramatta Eels
No, no, no, no this does not feel right - parramatta in fifth spot. How do I put them any lower? Two wins from two rounds. Overcoming Penrith at Penrith stadium was a great win for Brad Arthur's team and a relieving win for the coach himself.
Take solace in the fact that it's only round two and not September. The Eels may yet slide back down and the world will be right again.
6. Sydney Roosters
Sydney Roosters have one win and one in the loss column. The Roosters should probably be higher and again its very early but the reigning Premiers haven't necessarily started slow, they just haven't got going yet, a tough loss to South Sydney in round one and a hard fought victory in wet conditions against Manly means some would argue I've got them too high but projecting forward it feels right.
They will be premiership heavyweights again and deserved favourites.
The Roosters 17 is way too classy to sit any lower on the power rankings.
7. Cronulla Sharks
John Morris' Sharks haven't looked like the Sharks of old just yet, Andrew Fifita is not back to his damaging best through the middle yet, crabbing sideways every chance he gets and Josh Dugan looks out of shape, it's fair to assume their stars will run into shape.
No marquee wins yet, not a particularly strong schedule having lost to the Knights on Newcastle and putting the sword to the Gold Coast. Expect the Sharks to drastically improve.
8. Penrith Panthers
Preseason premiership heavy weights Penrith Panthers have been generally poor in the preseason and the first two rounds and sliding them into number eight does feel high, however it was a situation of addition by subtraction, who else fits here? The Knights lost to Penrith, the Raiders beat only the Titans, the Cowboys beat the zero and two Dragons and the Warriors flogged the Bulldogs and lost to Wests.
James Maloney played extremely well versus the Knights steering the Panthers around and initiating the attack with ball in hand.
Now in order nine through sixteen.
9. Newcastle Knights - Good off season signings, Ponga to six. No excuses to play finals football now for the Knights.
10. Cowboys - Beat the Dragons and competed for periods against the Broncos.
11. Warriors - An impressive outing versus the awful Bulldogs followed by a loss in Sydney.
12. Raiders - Recruited well. New halves pairing. Stuart on the hot seat.
13. St George - Preseason title heavyweights suffering under the weight of a loaded spine - Too many cooks in the kitchen. Lost some key back row forwards.
14. Manly - A transitional year. An undermanned backline.
15. Titans - For all the preseason talk of an improved Titans team, it is not looking good early for Gold Coast supporters.
16. Bulldogs - The less said the better.
If you disagree hit the comments section below. Let me know.