After an incredible year that saw the Cronulla Sharks break their long standing premiership drought, the team is back again and looking to become the first true reigning premiers since the Brisbane Broncos of 1992-1993.
Both teams are currently working their way towards the start of the 2017 season with a star player facing off field issues.
The Sharks have to contend with a positive drugs test by Ben Barba. This came soon after the club won the Grand Final and is sure to be a distraction for Barba as he prepares for the season.
Meanwhile, the Brisbane Broncos are seriously considering tearing up James Roberts’ contract after an off field incident last week. Roberts, who has a history of off field issues dating back over stints at other clubs, is almost certain to have his contract torn up as allegations that he assaulted a woman in a club are found to be true.
According to CrownBet, NRL betting odds in Australia will face off at event money on their early season. However, it will be interesting to see if these odds will change once the Broncos decide to release Roberts.
The Sharks, on the other hand, haven’t had any significant losses in terms of personnel and many predict they will remain one of the teams to beat in 2017.
A strong start to the season is always welcome for any club, and while some suggest that early season form means very little in terms of who wins the premiership, I don’t think you will find too many premiership winning teams who come out of the gates looking terrible over the first few weeks.
I can’t help but think that Wayne Bennett will be counting down the days until season kick-off to put behind him what was a tumultuous first stint as the coach of the English Rugby League team. While James Roberts’ assault issues prove to be a distraction for the Broncos, another pitfall seems to be looming. News is that halfback Ben Hunt is being shopped around to opposition clubs very early in the season.
It will also be interesting to see if Benji Marshall gets a run in their opening game of the season. After a long career at the West Tigers, and a stint at the Dragons where he was made a scapegoat for the club’s overall all poor performance, I hope Marshall bounces back and proves to be a great acquisition for the Broncos in 2017.
The Sharks taking on the Broncos will be a great way to kick off the 2017 season. We will answer a few questions about both clubs, but no doubt we will also have some new questions that come out of their season opener.