1st North Queensland Cowboys
Paul Green will one day be regarded as one of the NRL's greatest ever coaches and in 2018 I think he'll add another premiership to his list of credits. With Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott back in his side, and Australia Test player Jordan McLean added to the line-up, the Cowboys will take a lot of stopping. Michael Morgan really stepped up in Thurston's absence last year and he'll continue to be a superstar at all levels of the game.
2nd Melbourne Storm
I'm predicting Melbourne Storm will play the Cowboys in the grand final again in 2018. In 2017 the Storm proved themselves to be one of the best club sides I've ever seen. They lose Cooper Cronk to the Roosters, but young Brodie Croft is more advanced than Cronk was at the same age. Cameron Munster, who is turning into one of the stars of the game, will take a lot of the pressure off Croft. They have lost Jordan McLean, but welcome a leaner and meaner Sam Kasiano, whom Bellamy will have playing to his full, devastating potential.
3rd Penrith Panthers
The Panthers have been playing good football despite the fact Matt Moylan and Nathan Cleary don't work very well together. With Moylan gone, James Maloney comes into the side with all his experience and winning ways. Maloney will help with Cleary's development and they could end up together in the New South Wales team. Penrith always have a crop of young players coming through their system and the club will have the stability it needs with coach Anthony Griffin locked into a new contract.
4th Sydney Roosters
After spending big on Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco, the Roosters will be under a lot of pressure to at least make the grand final in 2018. Tedesco is the kind of player who can make something out of nothing, and he'll be a great addition to the club. But it was discipline that let them down in 2017. Cronk will definitely help them in that area; he'll be able to control the emotion when the team is under the pump and use his immense experience to get them home in the close ones.
5th Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
The Sharks simply need to score more tries than in 2017, and they have added Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan in the hope of sparking their attack. Valentine Holmes was incredible on the wing for Australia in the Rugby League World Cup, but the Sharks look like playing him at fullback where he might not be as effective. It could take some time for the Sharks to get their combinations settled, particular after losing James Maloney who was their chief organiser.
6th Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos lose halfback Ben Hunt to the Dragons and I'm not sure Anthony Milford is the ideal replacement. They need an organising half and Milford is much better playing off-the-cuff, popping up where he sees an opportunity. They have bought Jack Bird who will help them in attack, as he has that X-factor about him. The Broncos are a team that will never beat themselves, and the return of hooker Andrew McCullough from injury will see them challenging for a top-four spot.
7th Parramatta Eels
The million-dollar question for the Eels is: "How will the returning Jarryd Hayne go?" Coach Brad Arthur looks likely to play him in the centres, where I'm not sure he can have much of an impact. Mitchell Moses was unbelievable for the Eels in 2017 and really stepped it up for Lebanon in the Rugby League World Cup. He will be playing for a possible New South Wales jersey in 2018. The Eels welcome Kane Evans, who is a perfect fit for the tough, up-the-middle football they like playing under Arthur. They have lost Semi Radradra and have to find someone capable of scoring the number of tries he crossed for in 2018.
8th Newcastle Knights
The Knights have spent very well in the lead-up to 2018, signing exciting young backs including Kalyn Ponga, Connor Watson and Tautau Moga. The addition of Mitchell Pearce completes what will be an exciting team, full of points and coached by a very good man in Nathan Brown. Hooker Danny Levi would have gained a lot from representing New Zealand in the World Cup and he'll develop even more from working with Pearce. Mitchell Pearce is going to enjoy being out of the Sydney spotlight and playing in front of huge, supportive crowds.
9th Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Front-row pair David Klemmer and Aaron Woods will give the Bulldogs plenty of go-forward, fresh from winning the World Cup with the Kangaroos. Woods has the quickest play-the-ball of any forward in the game, and Klemmer is back to his hard-running best. The big question for the Bulldogs is how big signing Kieran Foran will go. If he is back to his best, healthy and with his mind fully on the job, the Bulldogs could threaten the top eight. New coach Dean Pay has a lot of potential, having served his apprenticeship in some of the best systems in the NRL, but this could be a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs.
10th South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs played the majority of 2017 without star fullback Greg Inglis, who returns in 2018 after a knee reconstruction. There have been some massive wraps on new coach Anthony Seibold, and he'll start afresh with a team that clearly wasn't happy under Michael Maguire's control. Angus Crichton is an emerging superstar and the Rabbitohs will be looking to get the most out of him before he departs for the Roosters in 2019. If the Burgess brothers can get back to their best, the Bunnies have a chance to play finals football.
11th Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
The Sea Eagles will go backwards in 2018 after losing Blake Green. Most of the improvement they enjoyed in 2017 was thanks to the way Green took over the organising duties for Daly Cherry-Evans. The Sea Eagles had hoped to pick up Mitchell Pearce as a replacement, but salary cap issues seem likely to stop them buying anyone who could fill that game management role and the form of Cherry-Evans will suffer. They still have the Trbojevic brothers, but as good as they are, they won't be able to help with this problem.
12th St. George Illawarra Dragons
Ben Hunt comes to the Dragons from the Broncos under a lot of pressure, with high expectations on him to perform. All good halves need a good pack to play behind and I have my doubts about the Dragons forwards. They have lost Russell Packer to the Tigers, and he was one of their forward leaders in 2017. Gareth Widdop was brilliant at fullback for England in the World Cup, but he'll return to five-eighth for the Dragons. I think they could struggle and coach Paul McGregor's job could be under threat again.
13th Canberra Raiders
The Raiders are in big trouble in 2018 with hooker Josh Hodgson ruled out for most of the season after doing his ACL in England's World Cup semifinal victory. He is a huge part of their team and they will really struggle, with big question marks also hanging over their halves. I also think they will suffer from being too big, as league moves to being a more mobile game. They were very inconsistent last year and suffered a lot from poor discipline, and without Hodgson they'll lack direction.
14th Wests Tigers
The Tigers lose Aaron Woods and James Tedesco for 2018, after losing Mitchell Moses halfway through 2017. Josh Reynolds joins them from the Bulldogs and he will play with a lot of emotion and passion. Ivan Cleary is a very good coach and he'll be doing very well if he can get results with the roster he has for 2018. You just can't replace a player like Tedesco overnight. Benji Marshall returns, which is a feelgood move for the club, but he will have more impact off field than on it.
15th Gold Coast Titans
The Titans have undergone big changes in recent times. Coach Neil Henry was sacked after having trouble with Jarryd Hayne, and now Hayne has left. The Titans need to spend the next five years rebuilding some stability. The signing of Ash Taylor is a great start and their new coach Garth Brennan looks to have great player management skills, which is exactly what they need as they rebuild. Michael Gordan is at the end of his career, but he will bring a lot of calmness and experience. The biggest problem the Gold Coast will always have is that when you fly in, the last thing you think about is football. There are too many distractions.
16th New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors were simply horrible in 2017, and I can see them slipping further to collect the 2018 wooden spoon. New Zealand were very disappointing in the Rugby League World Cup and they played with the majority of the spine that has been so poor for the Warriors. They lose Ryan Hoffman this year and they will miss his stability. Halfback Shaun Johnson would be under enormous pressure if he played for a Sydney club, he just doesn't produce his best consistently enough. It will be interesting to see how Blake Green goes over there; I have seen a lot of very good players go to the Warriors only to turn into very bad players.