Luke Keary, Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco will spearhead the Roosters' charge.
Luke Keary, Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco will spearhead the Roosters' charge. Brett Costello

Parker: The recipe for NRL premiership success

THERE'S three things you need to win in September - a fit roster, a ton of x-factor and a pinch of luck.

With that in mind let's run our eye over the remaining eight sides and see how they stack up heading into the business end of the season.

 

THE KEY MEN

They say big games are won in big moments and when you run your eyes over the final eight sides there's plenty of players who have owned those moments in previous finals series.

Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk have made careers out of owning the big moments, they're two of the most experienced players in this year's finals series and their performances will have a major bearing on their side's fortunes.

The same can be said for Daly Cherry-Evans who'll lead his battle-weary Sea Eagles side against the Sharks on Saturday night minus Tom Trbojevic.

For Manly to continue to defy the odds and continue their march towards the big dance, they need DCE and Jake Trbojevic to play out of their skin.

Daly Cherry-Evans will lead an understrength Sea Eagles outfit.
Daly Cherry-Evans will lead an understrength Sea Eagles outfit. DAN HIMBRECHTS

The side standing in their way are the Sharks who snuck into the top eight following a win against the Tigers in the last game of the regular season off the back of a masterclass from Shaun Johnson.

If Johnson can continue that form throughout September the Sharks could prove to be the giant killers of this year's finals series.

There's few players more feared in the NRL than Sam Burgess, but if the Rabbitohs are to win the premiership they not only need their inspirational skipper on the park, they also need those around him to step up.

Liam Knight has come along in leaps and bounds this season but he's going to need to find another gear if the Rabbitohs pack are to take down the likes of the Storm, Raiders and Roosters. The same can be said for Tevita Tatola and Mark Nicholls.

Mitchell Moses leads the competition for try assists this season and if the Eels are to survive beyond week one of the competition then they need their No.7 to continue his red-hot form.

Then you have players like Brisbane's Jamayne 'The Iceman' Isaako and Raiders skipper Jarrod Crocker who have proven time and time again this year that when the game is on the line and you need a clutch conversion or field goal, they're the men for the job.

 

Latrell Mitchell is among the Roosters' strike weapons.
Latrell Mitchell is among the Roosters' strike weapons. DAN HIMBRECHTS

FINALS X-FACTORS

It's hard to think of a crop of players more capable of breaking a game apart than the class of 2019.

It's easy to look at a side like the Roosters and point at players like Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco as their x-factor, but for me the man who will have the biggest say on the Roosters finals hopes is Luke Keary.

There's no player more equipped at executing a game plan than Cooper Cronk, but when things aren't going to plan than the Roosters need a Plan B and that's where Keary comes into his own.

While Cronk likes to play structure and set up plays, Keary relies on second-phase play and has the ability to play off the cuff.

The Storm also like to play structure, but in Ryan Papenhuyzen and Cameron Munster they have two players who can break a game open from anywhere on the paddock.

If there's a side who has relied on individual brilliance in their bid to make the top eight it's the Broncos.

For the Broncos to survive sudden-death football they're going to need something special from the likes of David Fafita, Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs.

If Fafita, Haas and Staggs don't provide the x-factor needed for the Broncos to tame the Eels then expect to hear the "Sivo, Sivo, Sivo" chant ringing around Bankwest Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The last time the Eels challenged for a title they had Semi Radradra scoring tries for fun, but now the Eels have found another Fijian flyer with x-factor to burn in crowd favourite Maiko Sivo.

Maika Sivo has been a star in his first season.
Maika Sivo has been a star in his first season. JOEL CARRETT

 

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

Each side in the top eight can mount a case as to why they can be the last team standing come full-time on the first Sunday in October.

No side has more finals experience than the Storm, more grit than the Sharks, more resilience than the Sea Eagles, more natural ability than the Raiders or a longer grand final drought to break than the Eels.

No side has a more feared pack than the Broncos, a more experienced coach than the Rabbitohs or a title to defend like the Roosters.

It sets the scene for a stellar finals series.

Just as every side has their strengths, every side in this finals series also has its weaknesses.

There's been plenty of questions raised over the Roosters middle, the Storm's right edge defence, the Raiders inability to withstand pressure and the Broncos and Eels ability to win away from home.

The Sea Eagles come into this year's finals series with a patchwork side due to injury, the Rabbitohs are without Sam Burgess and the Sharks have snuck in after an inconsistent year.

If there's one thing we've learnt this year it's if you're off your game by even one per cent, then you're going to be beaten.

 

Cameron Smith's experience could be telling.
Cameron Smith's experience could be telling. SCOTT BARBOUR

WHO'S WINNING THIS WEEKEND?

Heading into this weekend there's no fitter roster than the Storm, no side with more x-factor than the Roosters and no two sides who have ridden their luck like the Sharks and Broncos.

I'm tipping the Roosters to beat the Rabbitohs, the Storm to beat the Raiders, the Sharks to beat the Sea Eagles and the Broncos to cause an upset against the Eels.

Watch every finals game in September, LIVE, ad-break free during play and in HD on FOX LEAGUE and streamed on Foxtel Go. Sign up today at Foxtel.com.

News Corp Australia

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