Welcome to NRL Season 2022! With less than 2 weeks until the season kicks off at the foot of the mountains with a Blockbuster between the Panthers and Sea Eagles, it’s time to dive into a quick preview of the teams on the outside looking in, whilst also looking at some long-term prop futures markets.
The 2021 season may best be remembered for the controversial “6 again” rule, which was brought in as a strategy to speed the game up. As always though, some teams were better at exploiting this rule than others, and it resulted in the least parity we have seen in the NRL for a long time.
As for the positives, when the top teams did play each other, we saw some of the best football I can remember, particularly in the Finals Series. Inevitably, it was the young Penrith Panthers, after suffering a devastating loss in the Grand Final last season, who were able to raise the Provan-Summons trophy aloft, prevailing 14-12 over the Rabbitohs.
With the revamped “6 again” rule, this season proves to be far closer than last season. However, as is generally the case in the NRL, look for 4 or 5 teams to separate themselves from the pack early and likely compete for the top honours in 2022.
But we’re not here to discuss the Top Guns, we’re here to find some value in the teams clamouring over one another to try and make the top 8. We will also take a deep dive into the Top Try Scorer market and finish it off with a big price on a Wooden Spoon contender.
Be sure to check in with us for weekly NRL match previews and bets, with more futures potentially moving forward when value plays stand out.
2022 NRL Season Prop Bets
Ladder Finish Bets
Over the past 4 seasons, the Top 4 averages a turnover of two teams per season. Interestingly, one team each year over the past 4 seasons have shot from outside the Top 8 the previous season, to reach the Top 4. Given this, there seems a good chance at an outsider pushing into the Top 4, and here we can find value. There is another team I have pegged for the Top 4 this season that didn’t quite get there last year, and there is definitely some value there too.
The three teams that appear most well equipped to make the jump from outside the top 8 (or just inside with one team), are the Titans, Sharks and Raiders. The Titans seem to be a side on the rise, with a brilliant young pack comprising of Moeaki Fotuaika, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and the barnstorming David Fifita. Whilst there is a chance of the Titans making the leap, I don’t trust their spine, which is too young and inexperienced for mine.
Now, the Sharks and the Raiders are interesting. Let’s start with the Raiders. They get back a few big names they missed last season, namely Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jarrod Croker and Nic Cotric (returning from the Bulldogs). They also brought in halfback Jamal Fogarty from the Titans, whom I believe will steer this team around beautifully. Their spine is Top 8 worthy, and with Ricky Stuart’s job probably on the line, look for the Raiders to push towards a top 4 birth.
TIP: Raiders Top 8 ($2.25 at Pointsbet)
The Sharks are the darlings of the off season, with new coach Craig Fitzgibbon bringing in a host of big-name signings. However, I just don’t see the halves pairing controlling the game well enough for the team to push into the Top 4. In my opinion, the Sharks look good for the Top 8, but Top 4 is a bridge too far. Their halves pairing are all ball runners, and they don’t seem to have someone who can guide them around the paddock. I’m also yet to see anything from Nicho Hynes’ kicking game, and he will need to produce something special to give the Sharks a genuine chance at the Top 4.
TIP: Sharks Top 8 ($2.00 at Unibet)
My other bet is the Roosters to push into the Top 4. I’ve got the Roosters to win the comp this year, and with the worst injury toll in recent memory in 2021, surely injury luck is on their side in 2022, and they can keep their stars on the paddock for the most part.
TIP: Roosters Top 4 ($1.80 at Sportsbet)
Generally, 2 to 3 teams per season come from outside the top 8 the previous season, to play finals football. As outlined above, over the past 4 seasons, one of these teams makes it all the way to the Top 4. But with the parity amongst the average teams in the competition, the battle for a Top 8 spot is always interesting. As outlined above, the Sharks and Raiders for mine are teams that look destined to launch into the Top 8 in 2022. The other team I think worth looking at with long odds are the Wests Tigers. I know they are wooden spoon favourites, they haven’t made the finals for 11 years, and they haven’t overly improved their roster, but the additions they have made I feel are slightly under rated. I believe Jackson Hastings can come in and be an instant success at 5/8 and will help take the pressure of Luke Brooks and Jacob Liddle. I also rate the signing of Tyrone Peachey, who is instant offence off the bench. The return of Adam Douehi just before mid-season will also be a nice boost for them. It’s a roughie, but I’m backing the return of Sheensy to get the Tigers up this year.
TIP: Tigers Top 8 ($5.50 at Sportsbet)
On the other end of the scale, if 3 teams pop up into the top 8, 3 teams from last year must go. The 3 teams I have outlined for this fall include the Titans, Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs. NB: I won’t mention the Knights, as there is no value in the play
The Titans I mentioned above, their spine is very inexperienced. AJ Brimson is their most experienced playmaker, and he will be making the shift from Fullback to five eighth and may take some time to adjust. Added to this, he is injury prone, missing 15 games last season through injury. I worry about their depth, and their forward pack will be decimated over the Origin period. The Titans are a big chance of a regression this season in my opinion.
TIP: Titans Miss Top 8 ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
My other two picks are a bit more speculative, but they offer better value. The Sea Eagles were atrocious last season without Tom Trbojevic, and with his injury history you never can count on him getting through a full season. If he goes down for an extended period, the Sea Eagles will struggle to get back into the Top 8.
TIP: Sea Eagles Miss Top 8 ($5.00 at Unibet)
The Rabbitohs have lost their local junior and organiser in attack, Adam Reynolds. Whilst I still believe the Rabbitohs will be able to put points on the board, they surely miss their leader this season. Added to the loss of Reynolds is the massive departure of the Supercoach, Wayne Bennett. Whilst all the right things have been said about Andrew Demetriou, we are not far removed from the Anthony Seibold fiasco at the Broncos when Bennett left. Demetriou has big shoes to fill, possibly the biggest, and if the Rabbitohs struggle early the alarm bells will start ringing.
TIP: Rabbitohs Miss Top 8 ($4.00 at Sportsbet)
For the reasons listed above, if Tommy Trbojevic misses any sort of time, or can’t replicate last season’s form, the Sea Eagles are due for a drop in level
TIP: Sea Eagles Miss Top 4 ($2.00 at TopSport)
Despite overpaying for Chad Townsend, the Cowboys have got a premiership winning halfback who can steer this team around the paddock and accumulate wins. They have strike power in the outside backs and still possess one of the best forwards in the game in Jason Taumalolo.
TIP: Cowboys Finish 14th or Lower ($1.95 at TopSport)
I think the Dragons are a prime Wooden Spoon candidate. I can’t see where their points are coming from, and their slow and ageing forward pack won’t be able to assist them in this regard. With Griffin at the helm, they will try and win on the back of defence, and unless that defence is elite, it just won’t get the job done.
TIP: Dragons Finish 13th or Lower ($2.00 at TopSport)
The Bulldogs have been talked as the biggest improvers in the offseason. I’ve got to say, I don’t see it. I don’t rate Barrett as a coach, and the spine is still one of the worst in the league. Matt Burton was a star for the Panthers last season playing centre, now, he must take the worst team in the competition and turn it into a fringe Top 8 team? Sorry, I don’t buy it. Bulldogs haven’t improved by 7 wins in the offseason.
TIP: Bulldogs Under 9.5 Wins ($2.05 at Bet365)
I don’t rate Kevin Walters as a coach and the culture at Red Hill since the departure of Wayne Bennett has been nothing short of appalling. They had 7 wins last year, following their disastrous 2020 campaign, and even with the addition of Adam Reynolds, I don’t see them getting an extra 4 wins this year. For comparison, last season 10 wins got you in the top 8. I don’t see the Broncos making the 8 this year and I don’t see them winning 11 games.
TIP: Broncos Under 10.5 Wins ($1.80 at Bet365)
Top Try Scorer
If you’re not a winger, just give up. That’s what history tells us anyway when looking at the Top Try scorer of the year market. For the past 6 seasons (and probably more) a winger has scored the most tries in a season. Last season, there were 4 wingers in the top 5. In 2020, there were 6 wingers in the top 7 try scorers. And on and on it goes. It also pays to be on a top team, and one that scores a lot of points. Over the past 6 seasons, every leading try scorer has been in one of the top 4 scoring teams in the competition, save for David Fusitua in 2018 (10th highest). With this information, let’s dive into the market.
The top teams, and particularly the top offensive teams this season, figure to be the Storm, Roosters, Panthers, Rabbitohs and the Sea Eagles.
The Storm always seem to have good finishers, and it looks like they could have replaced Josh Addo-Carr with someone just as explosive in Xavier Coates. He’s the favourite for a reason, and you could do a lot worse than betting on the young winger.
TIP: Xavier Coates Top Tryscorer ($13.00 at Sportsbet)
The other Storm winger is a battle between veteran George Jennings and recruit Nick Meaney. I think a bet on whichever of these two is named to start week 1 is worth a flyer. With fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen in doubt, I’d suggest Meaney will start at fullback and Jennings on the wing, so Jennings is probably the safer bet.
TIP: George Jennings Top Tryscorer ($51.00 at Sportsbet) or Nick Meaney ($81.00 at Sportsbet)
The Roosters struggled last season, but with the return of Luke Keary I can see them really pushing forward in 2022. Daniel Tupou is someone worth looking at, however the Roosters are so strong on the edges that the wingers often aren’t needed.
The Panthers have Bulldozer Brian To’o, who scores his fair share of tries, however doesn’t have the speed or the athletic ability to contest for 50/50 tries. Charlie Staines is the better bet. He’s shown he can rack up tries, and after a poor season in 2021, his price looks juicy.
For the Rabbitohs, Alex Johnston is an obvious candidate. He’s been the top try scorer the past two seasons, racks up multiple try games for fun, and is on the end of the most explosive side of attack in the NRL. His price though, is too short, and I prefer a real flyer in the Rabbitohs team at a huge price.
Short write up here. The worst offence last season by 4 points per game and the 3rd worst defence. Winning 4 games less than the next worst team. 6 wins over the past 2 SEASONS. The Bulldogs have been horrific for two straight years. Yes, they’ve spent up on some big named players. Yes, they’ve got Gus Gould. But I cannot have them as long as $15 to claim back-to-back spoons. Their draw is very tough, and if they lose their first two games, could conceivably be 0-9 before they host the Knights in round 10. By this stage, they could be the favourites to take the spoon.
TIP: Bulldogs Wooden Spoon ($15.00 at Sportsbet)