NRL SEASON 2022 PREVIEW: PREDICTIONS & BEST BETS

The NRL Analyst rates all the teams and shares his Top 4 and Top 8 predictions plus betting advice for the 2022 NRL premiership season. Go find our Back and Lay tips for the NRL below.


SEASON OVERVIEW

The 2022 NRL season is upon us and we are set for much the same as a year ago, at least at the point end of the table. The heavyweights will stay the same while all the shuffling of positions will come at the southern end of the Top 8 and outside the top half of the table.

There are really only six teams who can win the premiership this year and those six can be divided into two clear groups of three.


The premiership winner will almost certainly come from the trio of Melbourne, Penrith and the Sydney Roosters. Manly, South Sydney and Parramatta can be afforded chances but they are minor at best. No team out of that six – the same top six as last year – can win the premiership. All are under the odds. The way the NRL plays at the moment, it is no longer built for a smokey to make a title run. The best emerge and one of the best will again win.

MELBOURNE STORM

The market has Melbourne as the pre-season favourite but once again they start the season well and truly over the odds. The Storm are a team that really defy reasoning and the typical ups-and-downs an organisation goes through. Many believed this was because of the three all-time stars that were the centrepieces of the Storm for so long but none of those remain and Melbourne are still a dominant force. The reasons are simple: Craig Bellamy and organisational stability. They continue to have both and are clearly a team that will win at least 16 games, finish well inside the Top 4 and be primed for another Grand Final. The losses of Dale Finucane, Nicho Hynes and Josh Addo-Carr are big losses but none were central to the Storm’s success and they have been adequately replaced.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

The Sydney Roosters look set for a bounceback year after injuries really ravaged their season. No team in the last decade has missed as many games from projected starters. The Roosters never had their best backline on the field and spent the season without their star half. Their strength comes not from recruitment but from the return of so many stars and the development of so much young talent in 2021. Trent Robinson is an elite three-time premiership winning coach. This is a bounceback season for the Tricolours.

PENRITH PANTHERS

Defending champions Penrith look the biggest risk of the three main chances. Going back-to-back is such a difficult task. When elite organisations like the Storm can’t pull it off, it seems unlikely the Panthers will. Their behaviour following their title win hardly suggested this was a team that would knuckle right down again. They have lost plenty of players with their depth severely impacted. The loss of Matt Burton, in particular, is significant. The Panthers went 1-4 in one-score games and that suggests they may have overachieved last year.


Manly, South Sydney and Parramatta all need to be viewed as teams probably not going to win the premiership but with enough talent to get hot and win it if the breaks come.

Manly clearly fit that bill. They were absolutely sensational after the first month last season but they did get found out against the better teams and they are a team more susceptible to one key injury than any other amongst the six contenders.

South Sydney have endured a lot of change and it is hard to see that change helping them improve on a 20-win, Grand Final season. Wayne Bennett’s departure is a clear blow even though Jason Demetriou is highly touted. The loss of Adam Reynolds is also immense with the organiser clearly undervalued. Depth will be another worry at Souths.

Parramatta are an interesting team and look a touch of overs. They have faded badly at the business end time and again and have a very poor record in finals under Brad Arthur. They have not really lost any player of value though and no metric from last year suggests a major downfall.


None of the other 10 teams can win the premiership in 2022. All can be laid at current bookmaker prices. The gap between the top and bottom in the NRL has widened during the V’Landys Era to the point where more teams than not have a zero or near-zero chance of winning the title.

The best of the rest are the Gold Coast and Cronulla. The metrics around the Titans suggest they are building off a base higher than their 10-14 record while the Sharks had the best recruiting class of 2022 with the signings of Finucane and Hines.

Canterbury are another team that will improve significantly based on recruitment. They have spent big and now have a backline capable of scoring points. Poor coaching and a lack of depth will keep them out of Top 8 calculations but they will not only leap from their three-win season but can extricate themselves from the bottom four.

St George Illawarra are another team that appears to be underrated by the market. They are unlikely to push into the eight but they have a coach capable of avoiding disaster and a veteran pack that will be able to grind out wins.

Teams heading south are led by Newcastle. They made the finals on a historically kind draw last year. They have lost Mitchell Pearce and now have a very thin roster, particularly in the spine. They had a 6-1 record in close games and overshot their true win tally by over three wins. They are going to fall and fall hard.

North Queensland have the worst roster by a significant margin and are in for a very long 2022. What they are doing with their roster is absolute madness. This team has little top end talent to go with no depth and a halves pairing that would struggle to hold down a spot in the Queensland Cup.


Betting advice is clear. The good teams from last year will continue to be very good. No team can make the leap up to knock them off their perch. The changes at Souths probably drop them out of top contention. The Storm again stand out. Amongst the bottom teams Gold Coast, Cronulla and Canterbury are the teams to watch. Newcastle and North Queensland are in for very long seasons.

BACK: Melbourne Storm at $3.60+

BACK: Sydney Roosters at $4.40+

LAY: Penrith Panthers at < $7.00

LAY: Newcastle Knights at < $101.00

LAY: North Queensland Cowboys at < $101.00


MELBOURNE STORM

There is one bet in the NRL year in and year out that is as safe as bank interest but pays a lot more. That bet is the Melbourne Storm. Melbourne have made the Top 4 every year bar two under Craig Bellamy. They have the most talented roster. They are built for regular season success.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

In nine seasons under Trent Robinson, the Roosters have finished in the Top 4 seven times. They were so close to making it eight straight with a valiant effort last year but their lengthy injury toll took hold. Any regression to the norm will see the Roosters compete for the minor premiership.

BACK: Melbourne Storm at $1.40+

BACK: Sydney Roosters at $1.55+


GOLD COAST TITANS

Gold Coast snuck into the Top 8 last season but were a notably better side than their 10-14 record suggested. They did most of their big purchasing last year so should see improvement on that front while there is addition by subtraction with the departure of Ashley Taylor. A quality coach should not be underrated and Justin Holbrook is just that.

CRONULLA SHARKS

There is a lot to like about the direction Cronulla are heading in. They have a highly-touted rookie coach and he has landed some big names in Storm duo Dale Finucane and Nicho Hynes. They will benefit from a draw that rates as the second easiest.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

The Newcastle situation was on the verge of implosion last year. They won’t stave it off for another season. There is little chance that a team with a top halves pairing of Jake Clifford and Adam Clune, who have a combined 29-51 record in the NRL, will lead a team to the finals. More likely to finish bottom two than in the top half of the ladder.

BRISBANE BRONCOS

Brisbane have somehow snuck up the board to make the finals but there is little improvement in the Broncos. Adam Reynolds is a quality buy but the coaching situation is a disaster and the roster-building around Reynolds has been average at best. The Broncos will not be challenging for a finals berth.

BACK: Gold Coast Titans at $1.75+

BACK: Cronulla Sharks at $1.80+

 LAY: Newcastle Knights at < $3.50

 LAY: Brisbane Broncos at < $4.00


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