Michael Treacy

Articles Written: 44

Recent Articles by Michael Treacy

2008 Preview - Newcastle Knights

LEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM guest writer Michael Treacy previews season 2008 for the Newcastle Knights...

2008 Preview - Gold Coast Titans

LEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM guest writer Michael Treacy previews season 2008 for the Gold Coast Titans...

2008 Preview - Cronulla Sharks

LEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM guest writer Michael Treacy previews season 2008 for the Cronulla Sharks...

2008 Preview - Canterbury Bulldogs

LEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM guest writer Michael Treacy previews season 2008 for the Canterbury Bulldogs...

2008 Preview - Canberra Raiders

LEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM guest writer Michael Treacy previews season 2008 for the Canberra Raiders...

2008 Preview - Brisbane Broncos

LEAGUEUNLIMITED.COM guest writer Michael Treacy previews season 2008 for the Brisbane Broncos...

2007 season preview: Penrith Panthers

THE Penrith Panthers head into the 2007 with a new coach, a new attitude and renewed enthusiasm which is hoped will usher in a new era in Panthers history

Origin special - QLD line-up

TODAY we get Michael Treacy's thoughts on the Queensland side as they prepare for next Wednesday's big stoush with the Blues.---1. Matt BowenBowen was very harshly treated by Australian selectors for the Anzac Test but he will get his chance to shine in Origin. Criticism of his skill under the high ball has been somewhat unwarranted. However, I suspect that he will switch with Greg Inglis at some stage of the match to confuse the NSW kickers. I?d anticipate Bowen?s role during the match would be to use his speed against the big forwards and backs from NSW, searching for that inside ball off Lockyer or Thurston. This combination will be pivotal this series.2. Greg InglisGreg Inglis has lived up to the hype he received pre-season as the next big thing. He has speed, strength, agility and the brains of a veteran. He is the complete footballer. Even though he is on the wing, he will still in my opinion play fullback at some stage during the match. I?d expect Inglis to come searching for work at the back end of each half trying to exploit fatigued defenders from NSW. I can?t wait to see this kid play Origin. It should be something to behold as we have all seen how exciting he is. 3. Justin HodgesHodges has definitely resurrected his career since returning to Brisbane last year. His football just keeps improving and hopefully this time around we won?t see any passes in the in-goal. He has been dynamic at centre this year, breaking tackles at will and creating many opportunities for his winger. I believe the left side of Inglis and Hodges will see the majority of ball from Lockyer and Thurston due to the Brisbane connection and also due to the fact this is where most of the inroads for tries will present themselves against Grothe and Tahu.4. Brent TateI, like many others, believed that Tate and Steve Bell would be switched around in this side, however selectors thought differently. Tate has just recently returned from injury but no one can doubt his ability. He is a strong hole runner and solid defender and basically a back that was made to play origin football. 5. Steven BellSteve Bell is in my opinion the second best centre in the competition this season. Bell just quietly goes about his business leaving devastation in his wake. He is the NRL equal top try scorer and on top for line breaks this season. Bell?s selection for QLD is long overdue but he will finally get his chance to shine in the Origin arena. How he?ll go at winger is anyone?s guess. However, I?m of the opinion that he will play centre come game time and so he should. 6. Darren Lockyer (c)Lockyer?s form since the Test Match has just been magnificent, it seemed to really give him the boost of confidence he needed. He has a renewed vigour and bounce in his step and his vision during a game is as sharp as ever. The 6 and 7 for QLD has it all over NSW and this will be a determining factor in the result of this series. 7. Jonathon ThurstonThurston has been dominant figure in the NRL this season and the reason the Cowboys have fared so well. While last season Thurston first wore the QLD jersey, I believe he has improved substantially since that time. Last series, he looked nervous - as though he didn?t know if he could match it. He has now had experience in big games and big arenas. He now knows that he deserves to be in this quality of football. This will only help his football and the QLD side 8. Steve PriceSteve Price has been going well for the Warriors. While the team seems inconsistent, you can always be assured Price will be giving 110%. He loves this Maroon jersey and in big matches he always takes his game to another level and I expect the same thing this time around. He?ll be the pivotal go forward player and his experience will help the younger forwards playing their debut Origin series. 9. Cameron SmithCameron Smith has yet again taken his game to another level this year. Melbourne?s perennial rise over the last month and a half is predominately on the back of his and Inglis?s good work and vision during play. His in-field kicking will be a prominent feature of his game this series as well as his dummy half running and ability to sniff out a weakness. I believe this will be the series where Smith stamps his authority on Origin. 10. Petero CivoniceivaWhile Petero is the veteran of the team, it won?t be a tag that sits kindly with the giant from Brisbane. He had an indifferent start to the season but gradually he began to regain form. He, along with Webcke, has laid a solid foundation for Brisbane with tremendous go forward and tenacity in defence. Both Civoniceiva and Price will be crucial in leading the way and setting a good example for the younger players in the team. 11. Matthew ScottWhat a year it has been for Matthew Scott, not even the barnstorming prop himself could imagine the great start to the season he has had. Scott has proven he could not only fill the void left by Paul Rauhihi, but improve the team. His hard running, strong defence and great mental application to the game have paved the way for his debut in Origin.12. David StaggI was a firm believer Stagg should have been selected last season as I believe he was playing better football last season. When viewing his selection I thought maybe I would rather an impact player such as Canberra?s Tom Learoyd-Lars but then you have to think of the role the player will have in the game. QLD will most definitely use both Johnson and Stagg for the entire 80 minutes, allowing a solid rotation policy with the other three forwards. Stagg?s selection is overdue and I hope he can cement his spot for future Origin series. 13. Dallas JohnsonDo my eyes deceive me? Where is TBA! On a serious note, Dallas Johnson?s selection is a year overdue. The tenacious lock has once again been in brilliant form for Melbourne and finally he has been rewarded with selection. I?d expect Dallas to play the entire 80 minutes and be an integral part of Mal Meninga?s defensive structure to nullify the NSW big men. Interchange:14. Shaun BerriganWhile many may question Berrigan?s selection, he is a utility player of the highest order. He has the ability to cover centre, five-eighth, half and hooker with ease and his versatility will only be of benefit to QLD. He will rotate with Cameron Smith and later in the game possibly Johnson or Stagg should fatigue set in, allowing another dummy half runner. 15. Carl WebbI have always been of the belief Carl Webb is a great bench impact player. With O?Meley coming off the bench for NSW, you can be sure to expect fireworks when they clash. Webb v O?Meley will be one of the highlights of the series. 16. Sam ThaidayPlaying for Toowoomba early in the season, Thaiday emerged in round 5 and six rounds later has impressed enough to secure an Origin jersey. I?m hoping he has the same hard running attitude in origin that he has shown so far this season. 17. Nate MylesNate Myles?s selection may have come as a shock to some, but I have been a tremendous supporter of his. He is exactly the type of forward Origin needs and will provide great impact off the bench with penetrating runs and bone shattering defence.

Wests Tigers 2006 season preview

LIKELY squad: Brett Hodgson, Daniel Fitzhenry, Shane Elford, Paul Whaitura, Jamaal Lolesi, Benji Marshall, Scott Prince, John Skandalis, Robbie Farah, Ryan O?Hara, Anthony Laffranchi, Ben Galea, Dene HalatauInterchange: Bryce Gibbs, Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington, Sam HarrisStrengths:The Tigers? great strengths are their skills level and athleticism. Those factors alone got them their premiership glory in 2005 and will enable them to continue that good form for the 2006 season.The Tigers? depth is something to be admired. Young guns like Shannon McDonnell and Dean Collis and key forwards Keith Galloway and Bronson Harrison are left out of the team above. The Tigers purchased very wisely in the off season and as such have improved their roster for the upcoming season, something that would strike fears into the hearts of other teams.The Tiger?s forward pack would rate among the most mobile yet underrated in the competition. Players like Fulton, Halatau and Heighington really shone a bright light for the Tigers in 2005 and will continue to do so for 2006.The halves pairing would rate amongst the best in the competition also. The steadiness of Scott Prince and the creative brilliance of Benji Marshall are so vital for the Tigers? success.Tim Sheens, one of the most experienced coaches in the NRL, is a great strength for the Tigers. He has the ability to turn dirt into gold and he will continue to do so as long as he remains coach.Brett Hodgson is a key player for the Tigers. In 2005 he played like a man possessed. He was magnificent in that everything he touched turned into points. He was the form player of the competition and will be out to make sure it stays that way.Weaknesses:The loss of Pat Richards will be immense for the Tigers. The big winger?s goal-line dropouts, defence and finishing ability was a real highlight for the Tigers in 2005. But now he has departed and leaves a huge hole in a depleted backline.Other teams will now be out to get the Tigers any way they can. This is a weakness for the Tigers whether they like it or not. Last season they slipped under the radar through to the Grand Final. This season teams will be better prepared, better drilled and mentally ready to take it to the Tigers. The Tigers need to be good enough to withstand such pressure.One to Watch:Shannon McDonnell is my player to watch for the Tigers. Shannon had a taste of First Grade in 2005 when he made his debut against Penrith. Unfortunately for Shannon it didn?t go as well as planned as he looked out of his depth and quite nervous in his first outing. He was brought into Tim Sheen?s squad for the WCC where he was again part of a losing side. Aside from only having two matches that resulted in losses, he remains the one to watch for the Tigers. He is an outstanding player with tremendous talent and electrifying speed.Tim Sheens has a huge rap on this kid and it?s no wonder why. He has speed that would be up there with competitors in the Commonwealth Games trials for the 100m and he can finish off a try as good as anyone when given the opportunity. I have no doubt that if Shannon had a consistent spot in the team in 2006 that he would definitely not disappoint Tigers? fans.Gains and Losses:Gains: Sam Harris, Keith Galloway, Jamaal Lolesi, Ryan O'Hara, Filinga Filiga.Losses: Pat Richards, John Wilson, Mark O'Neill, Matthew Rieck, Ray Cashmere.Assessment:I believe the Tigers have recruited brilliantly in the off-season. The acquisition of Harris, Galloway, Lolesi and O?Hara has really enhanced the Tigers? premiership prospects. It has given them valuable size, valuable experience and valuable depth in order to defend their title. If you look at the past 5 years, you?ll find the premiers have all haemorrhaged players after their title win, but not the Tigers. They have increased their playing stocks and have a better squad, which is why I?m predicting that they will finish in the Top 4 and be the most likely team since Brisbane in 1992/1993 to take back-to-back premierships.

North Queensland Cowboys 2006 season preview

LIKELY squad: Matt Bowen, Ty Williams, Josh Hannay, Paul Bowman, Matt Sing, Johnathan Thurston, Brett Firman, Carl Webb, Aaron Payne, Shane Tronc, Steve Southern, Luke O?Donnell, Travis NortonInterchange: Rod Jenson, Mitchell Sargeant, Justin Smith, David FaiumuStrengths:North Queensland?s line up remains pretty much unchanged for the 2006 season which means that the combinations that are currently in place will only improve as the players understanding of each other?s games improve. This will mean the Cowboys will be a better team in 2006.The Cowboys first ever Grand Final appearance will be a great boost for their club, their community and the players coming into the 2006 season. They now have the confidence and the belief that they can match it with any team at the highest level and put to bed critics who stated their finals run in 2004 was a fluke.Johnathan Thurston?s Dally M medal and an entire off-season for Brett Firman will only help the Cowboy?s halves combination become even stronger. Thurston?s ability to scoot through holes has made him one of the premier halves in the competition and hopefully he will continue his brilliant run of form in 2006.The Cowboys? forward pack is still as strong and aggressive as last season with the ability to dominate packs and move forward. The backline is also electrifying as well, with stable and sure centres and a brilliant back 3.Weaknesses:Losing Paul Rauhihi will definitely hurt the Cowboys. While he wasn?t a tremendous impact player last year, he was an influential figure to have in the team and did get away a lot of offloads. His presence on the field will be sorely missed by the entire team.The lack of size on the bench should be a concern for Graham Murray. Aside from Mitchell Sargeant, the Cowboys don?t have another big man on the bench with Justin Smith, David Faiumu and Rod Jenson not big enough to play prop, meaning one of Southern or O?Donnell will need to fill in at prop to give the two starters a rest. It will be a problem for Murray to organise this.Graham Murray being in charge of the NSW side will be a disruption for the Cowboys outfit. The travel associated and the lack of mentorship during the Origin period will put a dent in the Cowboys run in the middle of the season. Hopefully the caretaker coach can make sure the Cowboys don?t fall off the rails.One to Watch:Emerging Cowboys Prop Matthew Scott has been chosen as the Cowboys young gun for the 2006 season. A player who is held in high regard by Graham Murray at the Cowboys, he will be looking to become a regular feature in the Cowboys squad for 2006 with the departure of stalwart Paul Rauhihi to England.The 185cm, 104kg Scott made three appearances for the Cowboys in 2005 improving with each game he played. The Cowboys prop was vital in winning the North Queensland Young Guns the Qld Cup premiership last season and will be looking to impress Graham Murray in the trials in 2006 to make sure he will feature in the 2006 premiership push for the Cowboys. Gains and Losses:Gains: Ray Cashmere, Brett Anderson, Robert Tanielu, Leigh Coghill, Russell Aitken, Jamie Frizzo, Scott Smith, Mark Henry.Losses: Paul Rauhihi, David Myles, Leigh McWilliams, Jaiman Lowe, Michael Luck.Assessment:The Cowboys will finish from 5th to 8th this season as I believe they will do what the Broncos usually do - start strong, and then during Origin time will fall away suddenly and then come home with a wet sail.The lack of actual size on the bench will also mean they may not push for the premiership like they did last season. They will need to have another big man on the bench to ensure they push for the Grand Final.

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