Johns makes huge grand final prediction
MATTY Johns believes teams are being coached with more of an attacking mindset in 2019.
As such, the popular television host and Fox League expert predicts two bolters will fight it out for the ultimate prize on the first weekend of October - the Brisbane Broncos and Penrith Panthers.
"Every now and then you get a competition that throws up something different," he said at Fox League's season launch on Wednesday.
"We've seen it a few times in the last 20 years. We saw it when the Panthers came out of nowhere to win the competition when they started the year as almost wooden-spoon favourites. We saw it in 2005 with the Tigers coming out of nowhere.
"You sort of get the feeling this year that the onus will be on attack rather than defence, which will be great for the game.
"So I see the emergence of a lot of young sides coming out of nowhere - the Broncos and the Panthers, my Newcastle Knights, the ones that have got a lot of focus on attack will shock a lot of people."
He agrees that reigning champions the Sydney Roosters deserve to be hot favourites, but with history being well and truly against those defending the title, he insists the Tricolours are vulnerable.
"The Roosters will start the year as probably the most likely side of any side in the last 20 years to go back to back," he said.
"I mean they've got stronger, they've got Angus Crichton coming into the side, Brett Morris who brings experience, Ryan Hall from England's a really good, experienced player, Adam O'Brien the assistant from Melbourne will give them something in attack, but no side's gone back to back since the 1992-93 Broncos and there's a reason for that it's tough.
"So for that reason I'm going to go for the Panthers and the Broncos, I think it'll be that kind of season."
The Panthers and Broncos finished 2018 in fifth and sixth positions respectively, but have both had facelifts in the off-season with new coaches and roster changes.
Ivan Cleary has taken the reins at the foot of the mountains, while Dally M Coach of the Year Anthony Seibold has replaced Wayne Bennett at Red Hill.
The Panthers kick off their campaign with a western Sydney derby against the Parramatta Eels on March 17, and the Broncos open the season against last year's grand finalists the Storm in Melbourne on March 14.