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The Rock-itt : October 2010
Broncos The exclusion of Darren Lockyer at the back end of the season has resulted in the Broncos missing the finals for the first time in 19 years. Round 26 saw the Broncos go head to head with the Canberra Raiders for a berth in the playoffs with the Green Machine proving too strong, immediately causing an uproar north of the border with calls for coach Ivan Henjak to be sacked. The Canberra game also brought a close on Israel Folau's NRL career (for now) as the Queensland and Australian representative now sets his sights on the AFL. Bulldogs The Bulldogs were tipped to be a real contender in 2010, but waited until the final 2 rounds to show what damage they could have done in this year's competition farewelling Luke Patten and Brett Kimmorley in style as they defeated finalists, Penrith and Manly. Despite a disappointing 12 months, Canterbury fans are optimistic about the upcoming season as they welcome a new halves combination as well as Kiwis Frank Pritchard and Greg Eastwood. Raiders It seems every year there's one team that emerges from nowhere and causes a stir, and in 2010 it's the Green Machine. Canberra have been buoyed with an outstanding last 12 weeks led by Terry Campese who has found the form that guided him to a Kangaroos birth in 2008. The Raiders also claim the competitions youngest and most exciting back line as well as the NRL's most underrated forward pack and will be a handful for any opposition. Sharks Not much more can be said about the Sharks who are attempting to recover after a horrid 24 months, although Ricky Stuart wasn't there for the end of 2010. Now that the season is over they can concentrate on rebuilding themselves into a team that can contend every week. No doubt they will centre those plans around fullback, Nathan Gardner who is the light at the end of a very long tunnel at the Shire. Cronulla will also welcome former Storm and Dragons second-rower Jeremy Smith to the club in 2011. Titans Behind St. George, the Titans have been the most consistent side all season and will bank on that continuing as they attempt to break into the club's first grand final. They are helped by the week off in round 2 of the finals with results going their way in week 1. Gold Coast will use the retirement of Mat Rogers as extra motivation to get over the line as they attempt to send the dual international out in the best possible way, resembling Manly and Steve Menzies in 2008. Sea Eagles Manly, crippled by injuries during the latter stages of the season showed tremendous courage just to fight off rivals and make the top 8 this season, but without their star troops weren't able to match the Dragons in round 1 of the playoffs. Manly will now go into a rebuilding stage with Trent Hodkinson, Josh Perry, Ben Farrar leaving the club which will now look to inject their young talent with names like Will Hopoate and Daly Cherry-Evans about to be mentioned much more around the peninsula. Manly will also have Brett Stewart and David Williams back next season making their back line a nightmare to prepare for in 2011. Storm Melbourne played for nothing in 2010, but deserve credit for the way they came out and gave it their all each week despite the situation they were in. They could have easily put up the white flag after their punishment for cheating the salary cap was announced after their round 6 match with the Sea Eagles but were gallant for the remaining 19 weeks and the Melbourne community showed their appreciation in the final round with more than 20,000 fans turning up for their last game of the season where they farewelled Greg Inglis, Ryan Hoffman, Jeff Lima, Brett White, Brett Finch. Warriors After a rocky start to the season, where there was an immense amount of pressure on coach Ivan Cleary to perform or leave, the Warriors found their flair and finished 5th at the end of the regular season, but were disappointingly bundled out in week 1 of the finals after failing to topple the Titans up on the Gold Coast. However, 2010 will be looked at as a success across the ditch after many experts had the Warriors pencilled down the bottom of the ladder before the season started after a summer where recruitment wasn't priority, but it was quality over quantity with their 2 signings, James Maloney and Brett Seymour being the Kiwi side's best. KnightsAlthough Newcastle were never threatening this year they always found themselves on the weekly highlight reel