NRL finals kick off on Friday, with premiers Melbourne Storm taking on South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The New Daily asked NRL legends – Wally ‘the King’ Lewis, Sharks icon David Peachey and former Rabbitohs legend Mario Fenech – for their tips on what teams have the edge to win the first round of finals and the favourite to claim the 2018 premiership.
Storm v Rabbitohs
“Storm. They’re tough to beat in Melbourne and have a couple of fresh players back. Finals experience is invaluable.”
“South Sydney. A blockbuster to kick off the finals. It’ll be a very tight game, but it wasn’t that long ago that the Bunnies played Melbourne and won. They know what to do to get the job done.”
“Rabbitohs beat Storm only a month ago. The finals are a whole different level of expectation. If it’s their time, it’s their time now. They will be up against a hostile AAMI Park crowd. But the Burgess boys will have the edge. Rabbitohs.”
Panthers v Warriors
“The Panthers to beat the Warriors. While the Kiwis are impossible to predict, Penrith will be fielding close to their best team. They’ve ‘been there, done that’ in the finals.”
“Another tight one. I actually never thought either side would make the finals, but the Panthers have the edge on the Warriors.”
“This game has probably not been talked about as much. You might get a real dark horse out of these two. The Warriors can beat any of the top-eight teams on any given day. One of these two teams might cause an upset. But I’m going to tip the Panthers.”
Roosters v Sharks
“The Roosters will sneak home over the Sharks – just. This could be the game of the weekend. A thriller.”
“Sharks. Sharks in an upset. They’ve been playing a good brand of football that will really take it to the Chooks, and have a fit and firing squad peaking at the right time. But – as a former Souths man – anyone but the Roosters, of course.”
“Sharks. They have finals experience and they’re on a roll. This will really test the Roosters. They’re the better defensive team but the Sharks will give them a run for their money.”
Broncos v Dragons
“Broncos to beat the Dragons. Brisbane’s form last week was fantastic. They haven’t been all that consistent this year, but playing at Suncorp Stadium is a massive bonus.”
“Dragons. The Broncos have the home advantage, but I just have a feeling St George are going to come good and get the chocolates in this one.”
“Broncos – they’re too good in all facets of the game.”
Who is going to win the premiership?
“It’s an unbelievably even competition at the moment and it has stunned NRL fans everywhere.
“Minor premiers the Roosters must be considered strong chances, but Melbourne Storm and the Rabbitohs cannot be discounted.
“It is the most even competition in NRL history – and plenty of credit most go to the NRL’s salary cap limits for squaring it all up.”
“South Sydney. If they can beat Melbourne in Melbourne and get the week off, I feel it will give them the best shot. ([Coach Anthony] Seibold knows [coach Craig] Bellamy and the Storm’s systems.”
“I’d like to see a Sharks versus Rabbitohs grand final – my two teams.”