'Best finals series in years'; now it's time for predictions
Game Day with Chris Garry of The Courier-Mail
THIS has been the best Intrust Super Cup season in several years with the finals series throwing up a series of brilliant upsets that have captivated Queensland's league fans who have switched over now there are no home teams in the NRL finals.
The Easts Tigers and their gifted half Cody Walker have been the story of the season.
I am still befuddled how the Brisbane Broncos watched tapes of Walker and decided to look elsewhere for a back-up five-eighth.
Rookie Tigers coach Craig Ingebrigtsen has been a revelation.
Ingebrigtsen has played a major part in the development of several NRL stars including Daly Cherry-Evans, Jack Reed and Matt Gillett.
Now he has a stage to show he is more than a development coach.
The Tigers are deserving favourites for Sunday's grand final.
There will be a heavy turnover of key position players for next season with Walker, Ben Hampton and Tim Glasby likely to be consistent Storm players and centre Junior Sau is moving to England's Super League.
IT appears inevitable that Papua New Guinea will be granted entry into the Intrust Super Cup next season.
I am personally torn on whether this is a good move for the competition.
There are clear benefits in that the mining and government links behind the team will only help the QRL as will the potential for a new richer broadcast deal to be struck with PNG's networks.
There are also obvious pluses for PNG. Having a pathway to the NRL's soon to be official second tier will provide a much needed incentive for the talented juniors to stay in the game.
However, with the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles losing 19 games in a row this season the last thing the Cup needs is another team that cannot compete each week.
I have not seen the standard of PNG's national competition but that is where the vast majority of their players will be sourced from.
I hope I am proven wrong but it seems unlikely they would be able to compete with the majority of Cup teams featuring players who have trained through our development systems.
It could be 10 years before we see a PNG side make the finals.
GRAND FINAL predictions:
COLTS: Tigers by 16
Player to watch: Michael Kai and Ellery Tusa (Easts Tigers)
Shutting down these two power running centres, both rated future NRL stars, will go a long way to halting the Tigers. Kai is a Keebra Park product and Wests Tigers prospect while Tusa is contracted to the Storm.
FOGS Cup: Jets by 4
Player to watch: Difficult to go past Khan Ahwang (Ipswich Jets).
He is the back-to-back winner of the FOGS player of the year. The winger/fullback/goal-kicker is the leading try-scorer and point-scorer in the FOGS this year. His long range kicking game is astounding and he can boot the ball 75 metres on the fly which has led him to consider having a crack as an NFL punter.
Intrust Super Cup: Tigers by 12
Player to watch: Matt Minto (Mackay Cutters)
While Tigers five-eighth Cody Walker is the best player on the field today, Easts' strength across the park means he does not need to star for them to win.
For the Cutters to win, Minto must be dominant.
The former Central Queensland playmaker is a gifted kicker of the ball with great vision.
Highly rated as a teen, the smart No.7 had a stint with the Penrith Panthers before returning home to Queensland.
This has been his best season so far and he has regularly excelled under pressure.