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Factors to consider when betting on NRL

February 27th 2024, 10:37am, By: Ben Bridge

With another NRL season just around the corner, we here at Before You Bet have decided to put together a piece to assist you with what to look for to make a valuable bet on the great game. Find out all the key ingredients required to maximize your winnings and limit your losses when betting on the NRL below!

Factors to consider when betting on NRL

Overreaction by the markets

We see it all the time in betting markets, and the NRL is no different. A team that has been playing well, suddenly loses to one of the lower teams on the ladder. The following week, we see a shift in the rating of this team at the sports books, and this gives us an opportunity at a valuable bet. You see, a team is rarely as good, or as bad, as their last result may indicate, and a team coming off a poor loss will more than likely revert towards their mean performance. This is why it’s a great idea to create your own power ratings for each team, so you know when the market has gone too far because of one result. Always keep a look out for good teams being undervalued after a poor loss, and bad teams being overvalued after a big win.


Injuries always play a factor in sport, particularly in one as physically demanding as the NRL. Injuries to key players are something that can move markets more than anything else. Players such as Nathan Cleary, Cam Munster, Tom Trbojevic, and Reece Walsh hold huge weighting in betting markets. If one of these big-name players is out, you will often see a 6-point (or more) swing in the point spread. Unfortunately, the betting markets are generally quite fast when it comes to news of a key player’s injury, and as such, by the time you hear the news of a key player being out, the market has already moved. Again, this is another great reason to have your own power ratings, as you will easily be able to see if the market has gone too far in one direction based on a player’s availability. Team depth is another thing to look for when finding value in injuries, with teams like the Panthers and Storm seemingly able to plug anyone into their squad and not miss a beat, whereas if the Sea Eagles lose Tom Trbojevic, their chances at winning fall off a cliff.

Form Line

Form is obviously a huge factor when betting on any sport, however generally form is well and truly baked into the market. The biggest sports betting sites are constantly re-evaluating their ratings for each team, and a team that is performing away from expectation is quickly updated by the market. Take the Dolphins for example last year, who started as the lowest rated team by the market. After shooting out to a 3-0 start, the market was rating the Dolphins around 8 points better after just three weeks, and this is where their rating stayed for much of the season. As you can see, the market quickly catches up to the form on the field, making form lines something that aren’t a massive factor when I’m making a bet.


History is a funny one when it comes to sports betting. I see a lot of people in the sports betting space write about the history of two teams, and it being a reason why they like a certain side. Myself, I take very little from the history between two teams, especially these days when squads change drastically year to year. The history I will consider is recent, and even then, I will only take it into account if squads, coaching staffs, and playing styles remain similar to what they were in the previous matchup. Even then, I take very little away from history, and the people that make the argument that because a team has won 10 in a row against another team makes them a certainty, simply can’t make a rational argument based on anything else. Remember, a game that happened 2, 3, 4, even 10 years ago, has no impact on what is happening in this particular matchup. Each game is played on an island, and you must base your handicap of the game on this principle.

Finding Value

As mentioned a few times in this article, I base a lot of what I deem as ‘value’ on my power ratings. These are my base ratings of every team, that are updated on a weekly basis. I also keep a separate ratings system of what the market has been valuing a team, and I can use both numbers to find value, especially if I am higher, or lower, on a team than the market. If you are serious about sports betting, consider creating a power ratings list of your own to help you find value.

The NRL is a market that can be beaten. It is nowhere near as liquid as say, the NFL in the US, or Premier League in the UK, with professional bettors in Australia tending to bet more on horse racing and AFL. As a result, there is always value to be found in spread markets, totals, and team totals. But also consider the smaller markets, with player props starting to become more popular, as these markets don’t have the historical data, and as such the market makers are guessing a lot more with their lines.

Best of luck this NRL season, and don’t forget to check out the NRL Tips page, where we will be previewing every game this season at Before You Bet!

Based in Newcastle, Ben earns a living working for the NSW Government, but his real passion lies in sports and sports betting. Ben has spent years developing sports betting models for various sports and has been using these models for the past few years, creating articles for Before You Bet across NRL, NFL, Formula 1, and fantasy sports contests on Draftstars.

A lifelong Penrith Panthers fan, Ben has finally seen some rewards for his years of loyal support, with the Panthers chasing a fourth straight NRL Premiership in 2024.

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