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Who'll make the top eight? NRL.com experts have their say

Right now, every fan base has concocted reasons as to why the 2020 season will end with finals football.

But what do the experts at NRL.com think is going to happen. Will last year's top eight return? Which side that missed out last year is best placed to make the jump over the next seven months? 

NRL.com experts view

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

1. Roosters
2. Sea Eagles
3. Storm
4. Rabbitohs
5. Raiders
6. Eels
7. Cowboys
8. Broncos 

I have the Broncos just making the eight but for me, they are still a wait and see. They need a huge improvement from the way they finished last season.

Soward's Say: 2020 Storm

Jamie Soward (Premiership winner)

1. Eels
2. Storm
3. Raiders
4. Roosters
5. Broncos
6. Panthers
7. Sea Eagles
8. Rabbitohs

The Eels have recruited really well by picking up Ryan Matterson and Reagan Campbell-Gillard and should be stronger than last year. If they're going to end the title drought stemming back to 1986, this is the year.

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

1. Sea Eagles
2. Storm
3. Roosters
4. Eels
5. Raiders
6. Knights
7. Panthers
8. Wests Tigers

I'm expecting some big changes to the top eight this season with the Sea Eagles to sit on top by the end of it. Newcastle, Penrith and Wests Tigers to break into the finals for 2020 with Sharks, Rabbitohs and Broncos falling out.

Soward's Say: 2020 Cowboys

Margie McDonald (NRL.com senior reporter)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Raiders
3. Storm
4. Eels
5. Roosters
6. Sea Eagles
7. Broncos
8. Knights

The one caveat is "no injures" but a healthy South Sydney with that backline and those mobile, ball-playing forwards should win the JJ Giltinan Shield this year. I'm not sure they can win the Provan-Summons Trophy but the minor premiership is well within their grasp.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

1. Roosters
2. Eels
3. Storm
4. Raiders
5. Rabbitohs
6. Panthers
7. Sea Eagles
8. Broncos

Brad Arthur has built a strong squad that should challenge for the premiership in 2020. After finishing fifth last year, the additions of Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson strengthen Parramatta's pack. Expectation is one thing that could cruel the Eels but I see them finishing in the top two this year.

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

1. Roosters
2. Storm
3. Eels
4. Rabbitohs
5. Sea Eagles
6. Raiders
7.Cowboys
8. Broncos

History tells us two-to-three sides change over each season but I'm struggling to see many teams from last year's bottom eight improving enough to return to the finals. With plenty of added spark, I can see the Cowboys coming in while a few roster issues will cause trouble for the Sharks.

Soward's Say: 2020 Eels

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

1. Raiders
2. Cowboys
3. Sea Eagles
4. Storm
5. Roosters
6. Rabbitohs
7. Sharks
8. Dragons

The Raiders went so close last year and now have a top rate halfback in George Williams, while the Cowboys have refreshed with the addition of Valentine Holmes, a slimmed-down Jason Taumalolo and the dummy half double-team of Jake Granville and Reece Robson.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Raiders
3. Eels
4. Roosters
5. Broncos
6. Sharks
7. Knights
8. Storm

South Sydney's acquisition of Latrell Mitchell is a game changer and once he gets some reps at fullback, they will surge up the ladder while the Knights will be this year's big improvers.

Soward's Say: 2020 Sea Eagles

Katie Brown (NRL.com reporter)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Raiders
3. Roosters
4. Storm
5. Sea Eagles
6. Eels
7. Cowboys
8. Knights

I said they'd win it in 2019, but with the addition of Latrell Mitchell I now really believe Wayne Bennett's Rabbitohs can claim the premiership.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

1. Roosters
2. Rabbitohs
3. Storm
4. Raiders
5. Sea Eagles
6. Eels
7. Broncos
8. Knights

The Knights are the team that snare eighth spot this year ahead of the Wests Tigers and Sharks. The Roosters remain the team to beat and Latrell Mitchell to help Souths surge towards the top of the ladder.

Soward's Say: 2020 Sharks

Maria Tsialis (Big League editor)

1. Roosters
2. Rabbitohs
3. Eels
4. Sea Eagles
5. Raiders
6. Storm
7. Broncos
8. Knights

The Eels and Sea Eagles are my teams to watch this season. If the Sea Eagles can stay at full strength I think they'll be a massive shot at taking out the title. Though I've put the Storm much lower than they usually finish, I also wouldn't rule out another minor premiership win.

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist) 

1. Eels
2. Raiders
3. Roosters
4. Rabbitohs
5. Broncos
6. Sea Eagles
7. Storm
8. Cowboys

The Eels have added X-factor with Ryan Matterson and they are poised to break a 34-year premiership drought while the Storm will slide and the Cowboys will be the surprise packets with a new stadium and a handy new fullback.

South Sydney recruit Latrell Mitchell.
South Sydney recruit Latrell Mitchell. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Brett Keeble (NRL.com reporter)

1. Roosters
2. Rabbitohs
3. Storm
4. Sea Eagles
5. Knights
6. Eels
7. Broncos
8. Raiders

Despite losing Cronk and Mitchell, the Roosters still look like the team to beat. Trent Robinson will ensure they are motivated, not burdened, by the opportunity to become the first team in almost 40 years to win three straight premierships. 

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy expert)

1. Roosters
2. Eels
3. Storm
4. Rabbitohs
5. Raiders
6. Sea Eagles
7. Broncos
8. Knights

Parramatta have a great early draw and are one of the few top teams who should improve this year. Brisbane's impressive youngsters will continue to improve so they should play finals footy and with a new coach on board I've tipped the Knights to sneak by the Cowboys, Sharks and Panthers into eighth.

Soward's Say: 2020 Broncos

Tanisha Stanton (NRL.com reporter)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Roosters
3. Raiders
4. Storm
5. Cowboys
6. Eels
7. Sharks
8. Sea Eagles

The top four won't change in 2020 but I think we will see the Bunnies rise to the top if they can stay clear of injuries. Latrell Mitchell will create a new dynamic and it will be up to the forwards to create a platform for Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds. The Roosters won't make it easy for them though.

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

1. Raiders
2. Eels
3. Rabbitohs
4. Panthers
5. Roosters
6. Broncos
7. Dragons
8. Sharks

The youthful Panthers will deliver on their potential this season led by a dominant Nathan Cleary. A grittier Dragons side will rebound from the doldrums and will make the finals, while the Storm will miss out for just the fourth time in club history.

Corey Rosser (NRL.com reporter)

1. Storm
2. Roosters
3. Eels
4. Raiders
5. Broncos
6. Rabbitohs
7. Sea Eagles
8. Sharks 

I can see the same eight teams from last year's play-offs being there again in 2020, with Brisbane my big improvers as their youthful forward pack starts to come into its own. Parramatta have an even better roster this season and I expect them to jump a couple of ladder positions as a result.

Todd Balym (NRL.com reporter)

1. Roosters
2. Cowboys
3. Storm
4. Eels
5. Raiders
6. Rabbitohs
7. Knights
8. Broncos

Even without Cooper Cronk, the Roosters remain the team to beat. The Cowboys could be the big improvers. Their forward pack underperformed last year and the arrival of Val Holmes, Esan Marsters and development of Scott Drinkwater will ease the pressure on Michael Morgan.

Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson.
Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Holly Hazlewood (NRL.com reporter)

1. Storm
2. Raiders
3. Roosters
4. Eels
5. Sea Eagles
6. Rabbitohs
7. Panthers
8. Cowboys

Latrell Mitchell's move to Souths has been the talk of the off-season but can he help the Bunnies overcome the massive losses of Sam and George Burgess, John Sutton and Greg Inglis?

Jonathan Healy (NRL.com reporter)

1. Raiders
2. Storm
3. Roosters
4. Sea Eagles
5. Cowboys
6. Panthers
7. Sharks
8. Rabbitohs

No reason to suggest much will change right at the top, but expect the Cowboys and Panthers to be among the teams to be pushing hard for a finals berth.

Joel Gould (NRL.com reporter)

1. Rabbitohs
2. Roosters
3. Sea Eagles
4. Storm
5. Broncos
6. Raiders
7. Eels
8. Cowboys

The Rabbitohs have a backline for the ages, a spine to be reckoned with and a pack of young forwards with plenty of upside about them. There is a mood at Redfern that suggests something special is coming. I also expect the Cowboys to be the big movers.

Former NRL stars predict the wild card team of 2020

Matt Nicholls (NRL.com reporter)

1. Storm
2. Roosters
3. Raiders
4. Rabbitohs
5. Sea Eagles
6. Cowboys
7. Eels
8. Broncos

Don't expect too many surprises at the top of the table. The bottom half of the eight is where the excitement will be. Home ground advantage will play a role so expect the Cowboys and Broncos to be tough to beat in 2020.

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

1. Roosters
2. Rabbitohs
3. Storm
4. Sea Eagles
5. Eels
6. Broncos
7. Knights
8. Wests Tigers

Second-year syndrome for the Green Machine could hit hard. The loss of Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua could leave a bigger hole in the backline than initially thought. This along with the addition of the untested George Williams at halfback means that if things don't click early, season 2020 could get the death wobbles.

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.