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2016/17 Aviva Premiership Prediction and Preview thread

ratsapprentice

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That time of year again - well into pre-season and we are only a week or so away from the start of the best domestic competition in the world. :cool:
By this time you should have a reasonable grasp of how you think the season will play out, and this is where you can put those claims on record for later bragging.
Feel free to write a general preview of your team and of any others! You can also chuck in your "players to look out for" and league predictions too.

Here are some of mine:

I think we’ll see the league continue the trend of being ever more competitive, with the bottom being a real dogfight, and the potential for a very well established prem team to be relegated.

- Bath have obviously had some fairly significant coaching and player changes since last season. Blackadder and Matson coming in and Stuart Hooper stepping up to a coaching role are good appointments on the face of it, and I expect they should be able to improve the team significantly from last season. That being based on the impression that much of last season’s misery was based on squad disquiet just as much as inadequate coaching.
Losing Eastmond is a big deal – if only for the fact that losing him necessarily means quite a considerable change in style for the club. With Max Clark stepping up from the academy, and the rumour of Robbie Fruean being on the way – I’d imagine that the team are going to be playing in a slightly more orthodox style. There are a number of exciting signings and young players in Bath’s squad, but their overall depth is a worry and will inevitably tell during international periods (and outside of that – particularly if there are injuries).
Obviously Faletau and Charteris are the big name signings and could make a sizeable impact for the club. Jack Walker has a very good chance of becoming a first team regular at the very least, if he can remain injury free – he has no real outstanding players in his way. Dave Sisi is “back” although whether he was ever really there before his loan spell back to LI is questionable – very difficult to tell what he’ll be able to do given the competition in the back row. A guy who you may not be familiar with is Levi Douglas; a young flanker who spent four months with the Sarries academy before moving to Oyonnax for a season. He played a couple of senior games after joining mid-way through last season and is still in the academy. I think the guy has quite a bit of potential – he’s a very powerful, big guy (119kg!) – he reminds me a bit of a much bigger Teimana Harrison. Tom Ellis and Charlie Ewels should get plenty of first team action – although Ellis may find that difficult if he’s seen mainly as a backrower, as I do, given the competition in that area. It will be interesting to see how Stooke goes.

Bath players to look out for: Levi Douglas, Beno Obano, Tom Ellis.

- Harlequins have lost O’Shea and brought in Rowntree as forwards coach. It will be intriguing to see what effect this will have on quins, as it is unclear to me what role Connor was filling.
The state of Quins scrummaging under Rowntree is something all England fans should be keeping a keen eye on IMO – if he can improve Marler and Sinckler then it will really benefit the national side – Kyle in particular, who remains one of my favorite players. Quins have listed Marler as 93kg this season, which is patently incorrect; but he does look to have lost a significant amount of weight during his time off (and I know he prefers to play lighter).
As usual for Quins, there hasn’t been too much player movement. Aaron Morris would be the “big” signing – he looked decent in the Glasgow game; so he might be able to pressure Brown somewhat. Joe Marchant looks set to have a breakthrough season – the more I see of him, the more he impresses me. This surely has to be the season that they start to bring through a replacement for Evans? Who is that person, though… Swiel is the obvious guy, but I don’t know how much faith the coaches have in him – James Lang may get an opportunity here, I know he is highly rated and he impressed in the 7s. Jonas Mikalcius is in an interesting position – he’s ostensibly behind two fairly established international wingers, but looks to be an absolute machine. He is a phenomenal athlete, and I would not be surprised to see him feature heavily.
Quins home-grown locks will have to jostle with Reddish and Horwill for a position in the first team.

Quins players to look out for: Aaron Morris, Joe Marchant, Jonas Mikalcius, James Lang.

- Wasps have a very, very impressive squad this year. I think everyone expects them to challenge for honours. Tommy Taylor possibly giving them the biggest boost of all – they now have very good fundamental base in the set-piece, which was perhaps lacking.
Hopefully Robson can kick on from where he was and put his hand up for senior England caps.

Wasps players to look out for: Tommy Taylor, Matt Symons, Ehize Ehidoze

- Gloucester have signed Motu Matu’u, not that great a player, but sweet jeezus does he tackle hard. The hardest I’ve ever seen, in fact… it’s actually quite scary.

Other players to look out for:

Exeter: Sam Simmonds
Gloucester: Joe Batley, Ben Vellacot, Harry Randall
Leicester: Freddie Tuilagi, Ellis Genge
Bristol: Jack Lam
Newcastle: Josh Chisanga, Simon Uzokwe
Northampton:
Sale: Paolo Odogwu
Saracens: Nathan Earle, ***i Lamositele, Savenaca Rawaca, Alex Lozowski
Worcester: Will Spencer, Christian Scotland-Williamson

League positions:

Bottom two thirds of the table is anyone’s guess, to an extent, but here we go:

1. Saracens
2. Leicester
3. Wasps
4. Exeter
5. Northampton
6. Quins
7. Bath
8. Sale
9. Worcester
10. Newcastle
11. Gloucester
12. Bristol




 
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BPM

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I'd agree with pretty much all of that.

From a Quins perspective it's really hard to judge. On the one hand, we have a good starting XV as well as some excellent young players link Marchant and Mikalcius that seem set to make an impact this season. On the other, the coaching set-up is 'new' but Rowntree aside, they have all been appointed 'in-house' so it isn't really that new at all. Our signings have been thoroughly uninspiring and our squad has depth but lacks quality as highlighted by our second string being soundly beaten by London Irish. I'm concerned about what may happen during the AIs. If we make a bad start, the period without our top players is really going to hurt us.

i'm going for Saracens to win again and I'm expecting the table to look something like:

1. Saracens
2. Wasps
3. Leicester
4. Exeter
5. Northampton
6. Sale
7. Harlequins
8. Bath
9. Worcester
10. Gloucester
11. Newcastle
12. Bristol

Players to look out for not mentioned already is tough.

I'd go for:

Bath: Jennings / Hastings
Bristol: Hurrell
Exeter: Hepburn
Gloucester: Burns
Harlequins: Sloan
Leicester: Evans
Newcastle: Witty
Northampton: Ludlam
Sale: Nott / Mitchell
Saracens: Malins
Worcester: Taylor
 

SelimNiai

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Perhaps predictably, I dont think we 're going down. Nowhere close.

Newcastle down, Wasps to win it all. Bristol to finish 9th.
 

j'nuh

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Not sure what to expect from Glos. Headline recruitment hasn't been great this year. Sounds like there is the desire and money to bring in quality, but we are missing our recruitment targets. Not too concerned about it though. The Glos defence was good last season, so fairly content that we won't be near the bottom. We struggled to score tries last season (third fewest) for missing May, Sharples and Marshall for a big chunk of the season. A relatively injury-free season, plus Scott, and I have fairly high hopes.


  1. Sarries
  2. Wasps
  3. Tigers
  4. Exeter
  5. Saints
  6. Bath
  7. Glos
  8. Quins
  9. Wuss
  10. Sale
  11. Bristol
  12. Falcons
 

Peat

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Have to say, I struggle to look past Newcastle to go down, although I may be being a bit bullish on Bristol's adapting.
 

ratsapprentice

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It's really difficult to call.

I think it could be any number of teams, that's not sitting on the fence, I just think it's really tight.
 

RedruthRFC

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Interestingly Paddy Power have Worcester as odds on for the drop from Bristol at 15/8 with Newcastle at 4/1. Looks like a good price on Newcastle to me.

Surprised to see Worcester as such strong favourites for the drop having finished eight points above Newcastle last time out. Newcastle's squad seems pretty underwhelming. The jury is still out on Bristol for me, their squad / recruitment has far from blown me away, but Newcastle's squad seems equally meh, if not more so.
 

Dan Kelly is Irish

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Pro wondering if Ryan leaving is going to have a knock on affect. Out of the bottom 3 it has had the biggest change in coaching.


Will give my 1 cent tomorrow.
 

ratsapprentice

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I had completely forgotten about Ryan leaving, if I'm honest.

Ya... can see that could be an issue!
 

Peat

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Yeah, I'd forgot that too. Who's the replacement? Have they even been named yet?
 

Don't Skip Leg Day

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Worcester defiantly going down. With Ryan going I can't see them being stronger than Newcastle or Bristol.
 

BPM

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The relegation fight will be interesting this year.

I'm not so sure about Worcester? They have some decent players and on paper, I'd argue their squad is stronger than Newcastle and Bristol's.

i agree that the lack of an experienced coach will hurt them, but I'm not sure that makes them favourites for the drop.

Like him or not, Dean Richards generally does a good job wherever he is and I think he's making Newcastle increasingly competitive. They still have an odd, mongrel squad but they have Sinoti Sinoti back from injury, they have some decent youngsters coming through and have also made some interesting signings so I think they'll be OK.

Bristol's squad looks reasonably weak to me. They've got a couple of stand out players like Lam and Cliff, but the big signings they were talking about haven't materialised and I think they'll take a while to get used to the AP too. Arguably their strength is that they'll be uninterrupted by international call-ups and can build momentum as a squad, but whether that's enough is a separate question for me.
 

Geordiefalcon

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Newcastle: Josh Chisanga, Simon Uzokwe





Simon Uzokwe is on loan at Darlington again this season so wont play for us.

- - - Updated - - -

Falcons players to watch:

Evan Olmstead very physical yet athletic in the pre season games. A big lock who players for Canada. As many have mentioned Will Witty has also been VERY physical in the preseason games. Add in Sean Robinson and our lock stables are very good indeed.

I would watch out for Josh Chisanga. Hes a Kenyan international. We signed him at the end of last season.The boy is pure physicality...imagine a young raw larger version Nii latu our tongan back rower. He's already a crowd favourite after the preseasons.

Our pack this season will be VERY physical, aggressive and will carry way better than in previous years. Our scrum will be rock solid as will the lineout.
We will cause teams a lot of problems in the forwards.

The problem is the backs however.
We have et to decide who our starting 10 is. I just don't rate Delayney at all...I would start our young 10 Craig Willis. He could be very very good...but we've been playing him at 12 in preseasons. I hope they don't think about switching him to cover our lack of centres!

Centres are the biggest worry.
JPS and Chris Harris are solid. Powell (whos also just solid) is out for the season we think, and Waldouck just inst an inspiring signing. That leaves us with Penny, Stevenson and Redman, three VERY talented kids but with very little experience.
I hope he doesn't look to play Goneva at 13.

Wings - Amongst the best in the league. Sinoti, Goneva, Marcus Watson and Zac Kibirige and another young potential starlet on the way...Dan Marshall.
We just need to give them the ball and good opportunities.
 
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Dan Kelly is Irish

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Goneva was at his best at 13 for us IMO, honestly he carried out backline in the 2014/15 season honestly I suspect that now his best position is 13 he prob lost a yard of speed that prevents him from being a top 5 winger anymore but he is defensively solid, very strong runner has a decent passing game has a fine Offloading game.

Out of all the outside centres you have he is heads and shoulders above them.


Shame Catterick is out in the shadows now.
 

Geordiefalcon

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Interesting to hear Tigs,

Catterick isn't necessarily out of the picture. I still say he's one of the best actual passers in the league...he just needs to control the game a bit more. He's also had some bad luck with injuries etc.

This season we have Delayney (he can leave for all I care), Hodgson, Catterick and Willis. Willis would be my first choice with Catterick getting lots of gametime IF he can stay fit and not just get a few minutes here and there. He needs regular games.
 

Dan Kelly is Irish

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Okay my 2 cents mainly on Leicester with my standings and ones to watch after.

Leicester
Pack
Props - Excellent first time in nearly 10 years Ayerza has had a full preseason with us, Cole looked good v Aus and Genge has huge potential.
Depht is a great mix of experiance and youth
Hookers - Again great to have had Youngs fit for a whole preseason the battle between McGuigan and Thacker will be very interesting.
Locks - Great depth Barrow is certainly one to watch here, Slater will have a big point to prove though.
Back Row - Biggest worry is @ 8 McCaffrey and Hamilton will do a good fill in but against teams like saracens and Racing we need ball carries who can get over the gain line, Flanks though are fine esp Williams, O'Connor and youngster Evans.
Backs
Scrum Half - Happy with good depht and solid options coming up through the academy.
Fly Half - Burns was in brilliant form and judging by the preseason looks very confident fingers crossed this is his year, Williams excellent alternative.
Centres - Hopefully we will have a fit Toomua and Manu which could be a world class pairing, JPP and Betham will cover 13. Happy with this.
Wings - Depends how it goes we have a good mix of SH flair and NH solid wingers in Thompstone and Brady. will depend on injuries in the centre though.
Full Back - Tait IMO is past his best, Veainu will prob be starter.

Overall: Prob the best squad Tigers have had in a long time and should hopefully start the season well.

Ones to Watch (Players who i think have a good chance of AP game time that might not have gotten much last season)
Bath: Walker, Douglas, Clark,
Bristol: Ford Robinson, Hurrell (Ex tigers ;) )
Exeter: Simmonds
Gloucester: Protheroe and Thorley
Harlequins: White, Chisholm, Marchant, Mikalcius, Morris, Sloan
Tigers: Genge, Evans and Worth (Yawayawa and Tuilagi prob another season away yet)
Newcastle: Kibirige, Willis
Northampton: Ludlam (Or else he needs to move IMO), Packman (Saints wingers are not impressive outside North IMO),
Sale: Curry both of them
Saracens: Earle, Lozowski
Wasps: N/A Don't see any players getting anymore game time really IMO. Maybe Willis
Wuss: Alo, Howard,

Table
1 Saracens
2 Tigers
3 Exeter
4 Wasps
5 Sale
6 Saints
7 Bath
8 Harlequins
9 Bristol
10 Glous
11 Newcastle
12 Wuss

Will prob change my mind though.
 

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Quins have listed Marler as 93kg this season, which is patently incorrect; but he does look to have lost a significant amount of weight during his time off (and I know he prefers to play lighter).

That's worrying from an England perspective given what we saw from our props in the RWC. He'll prob get away with it at club level, but Eng LH is very much up for grabs in my book.

Having said that I think Sarries and Bristol will top and tail the league I think the two clubs to watch will be Tigers and Barf. Tigers look like they could be growing force, while anything less than very good management could easily see Barf turn into a car crash.

Player to watch: Itoje. Everything was a bit gilded and too easy last year, will there be second season syndrome, how will he cope if things don't go his way or he gets injured?
 
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