SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: Ashley Taylor of the Titans kicks the ball in the warm up during the round 11 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Gold Coast Titans at Lottoland on May 24, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

This is the week. After five agonising months, rugby league is back this Thursday, so why not dive in, and predict one of the most unpredictable seasons so far?

Here is Part 2 of our 50 fearless predictions for 2022.


40 - Ash a smash

After some inconsistent years, Ashley Taylor will finally stand tall, getting his chance to partner Shaun Johnson midway through the season, and grab the opportunity with both hands. Despite his form, Taylor will fly the coup and join Redcliffe, reuniting with the man that debuted him nearly seven years ago.

39 - Samoa star on world stage

It was Tonga at the last World Cup, but in 2022, Samoa will again prove that there's more to international rugby league than the big three. Snaring the likes of Jarome Luai, Junior Paulo and Josh Papalii, Samoa have the skill and the strength to cause a splash at this year's tournament, falling narrowly short of making the final.

38 - Latrell suspension free

After being labelled a thug for the past few months, Latrell won't curb his aggression, but he'll learn how to channel it. Akin to Sam Burgess in 2014, Latrell will go the entire season suspension free as he takes a leadership role with the club. Despite his form, the club will fall short of another grand final appearance, leaving Latrell wondering what could have been.

NRL Rd 16 - Eels v Rabbitohs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs looks on during the round 16 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium on August 27, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

37 - Oh Mam, he can play

There's genuinely a five-horse race to see who will partner Adam Reynolds in the halves at Red Hill this season, and while Billy Walters is the favourite, there's no doubt Ezra Mam is the club's future.

An electric teenager, Mam is raw but will get his opportunity in first-grade this season, and show the rugby league world how prominent he'll be in the game in a few years. While he'll only play a handful of games, the kid will score on debut, and leave fans wanting more.

36 - Four on the trot

It's not the boldest pick, but St. Helens aren't going to be toppled this year in their battle for a fourth consecutive premiership. They've had a few personnel changes, losing stars like Kevin Naiqama yet replacing them with talent like Konrad Hurrell. They've elevated themselves into a dynasty and there's no brake on that train - they're simply a class above.

35 - Three-quarters the centre of Penrith problems

They'll still be a premiership threat as they have been the last two seasons, but the Panthers will start finding some chinks in their armour this season, namely in the centres. Stephen Crichton and Izack Tago will start the season there, however they're only one backline injury away from having to throw the likes of a Robert Jennings or Christian Crichton into their backline. Having lost Matt Burton, Paul Momirovski and Kurt Capewell, it's going to be a massive test for the Panthers.

34 - Fogarty fires Raiders attack

He'll miss a large chunk of the season, but Fogarty's return will show Canberra fans what could have been. Youngster Brad Schneider is set to get the seven jersey early in the season, and while the kid is good, their attack will be stunted without Jamal. His mid-season return will reignite their offence, but their season will be too far gone to recover from.

NRL Trial Match - Sea Eagles v Raiders
GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 25: Jamal Fogarty of the Raiders looks on during the NRL Trial Match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Canberra Raiders at Central Coast Stadium on February 25, 2022 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

33 - COVID causes headaches as stars race the clock

We've already seen a glimpse this week with Adam Reynolds and Kobe Hetherington, but COVID will cause absolute havoc in 2022, with the NRL already increasing the weekly team list Tuesday lists from 21 players to 23, and expect to see the same in State of Origin. Not only will players be forced to miss anywhere between one to three weeks when they contract it, it could signal the end of 'roommates' for players on away games, with the threat of giving it to another player too high. Let's pray it isn't a lingering worry come finals time.

32 - Canterbury climb the ladder, escaping bottom four

Slow and steady wins the race, and while it isn't a finals berth, finishing between 10th and 12th is a win for Bulldogs fans. They're missing a top shelf halfback and hooker which will stop them from being competitive, and Trent Barrett mightn't make it out with a job still, but the Dogs will rise, and leave themselves in the good stead for a finals push in 2023.

31 - Cody get passed the pass

Cody Walker will shrug off that grand final pass and enjoy another stellar season as he slowly takes more and more control of the side, taking pressure off young Lachlan Ilias. He won't garner a mention come Origin time but the enigmatic five-eighth will snare a maiden Kangaroos jersey at the World Cup, playing second fiddle to Cameron Munster. Expect another 20 plus try assist season from the All Star.