SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Greg Inglis of the Rabbitohs shows his emotion during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

As we get ready to farewell 2020, we begin to look forward on the horizon to next year, and all the ups and downs that are tied to it.

We prepare for some normality in and outside rugby league, and while even Nostradamus couldn't have predicted what 2020 would deliver, I'll give 2021 it a crack.

From the winner to last place, the highs and lows and everything between, here's Blythy's 50 Fearless Predictions ahead of the 2021 NRL season.

Click here for Part 2 of our 50 Fearless Predictions for 2021 (40-31)
Click here for Part 3 of our 50 Fearless Predictions for 2021 (30-21)

50. One in, one out

Usually we see multiple teams drop out of the ladder each year, but in 2021 we'll see just the one - Cronulla Sharks out, Gold Coast Titans in. Manly, Canterbury and the Warriors will rise, but not enough.

49. Salary cap attack on Grand Finalists

They were far and away the best sides in 2020, but Penrith and Melbourne will feel the pinch, as clubs throw big dollars at their youngsters. Penrith have already lost Matt Burton, while many are sniffing around Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith.

NRL Rd 19 - Storm v Sea Eagles
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Cameron Smith (c) of the Storm (R) talks with Brandon Smith of the Storm during the round 19 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Sea Eagles at AAMI Park on July 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

48. Room for one more?

The NRL will finally announce their plans to expand within the NRL, adding Queensland Cup side Redcliffe Dolphins to the competition in 2023. Their first signings? Wayne Bennett as head coach, and Cameron Smith his assistant.

47. NRL's Super Investment

A year after there were fears the NRL would go bankrupt, the competition will buy a stake in the Super League to ensure it remains on the right track. While the NRL is a far superior comp, they need the Super League to maintain the game's global growth.

46. Madge's failed reunions

Michael Maguire debuted a lot of talent in his time at South Sydney, and despite good relationships, will fail in his bid to reunite with two of them. Cameron McInnes and Angus Crichton, both members of the 2020 NSW squad, are high on his recruitment list, but the club will be used as a pawn as both re-sign for more money with their current clubs.

45. Warriors wrestle spinal issues

Many are tipping the Warriors to make the eight in 2021, and with the recruitment of Addin Fonua-Blake, Ben Murdoch-Masilla, Euan Aitken, Bailey Sironen and more, it's easy to see why. But the club will struggle in the spine aside from captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and that'll be their downfall.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 20: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck of the Warriors looks on during the round 6 NRL match between the Warriors and the Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium on April 20, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

44. G.I. Go as Inglis leaves on his own terms

Not many expected when Greg Inglis walked off the field late in a game at Wollongong in early 2019, it'd be the last we see of the superstar. Inglis will only last the season in the Super League before hanging up the boots, but it'll be long enough to show the former Rabbitoh hasn't missed a beat as he crosses the stripe over ten times in 2021.

43. Kangaroos keep the cup

Despite early fears the World Cup in England may be postponed due to COVID, the tournament will be a smash success. With the rise of Pacific Nations like Tonga and Samoa, it'll be a tight affair though it will be Australia who hold the cup aloft for the third straight tournament. Youngsters Harry Grant, Nathan Cleary, Angus Crichton and AJ Brimson will all debut during the six week affair.

42. Blood in the water for Morris

Cronulla won't start 2021 well, with Shaun Johnson out for a good chunk of the season with an Achilles injury, and the likes of Andrew Fifita and Matt Moylan on injury-based declines. John Morris will be the man to pay for it, with premiership winning coach Paul Green to be at the helm by Round 10.

Cronulla Sharks Training Session
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 02: Sharks coach John Morris watches on during a Cronulla Sharks NRL training session at PointsBet Stadium on June 02, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

41. Runway Riki a smash success

The loss of David Fifita is massive for Brisbane, but there'll be a reprieve through the form of rookie Jordan Riki. The back-rower has speed to burn for a big man and though he'll most likely start the year behind Tevita Pangai Jnr, Alex Glenn, Corey Oates and John Asiata for an edge role, Riki will start at least ten games and cross the stripe 6+ times in 2021 as he begins to forge a career at Red Hill.

Click here for Part 2 of our 50 Fearless Predictions for 2021 (40-31)
Click here for Part 3 of our 50 Fearless Predictions for 2021 (30-21)

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Hey Blythy.
    How do multiple teams ‘drop out of the ladder’?
    On the salary cap & losing players. It’s fair enough if a team loses some players, when they’re not players that the club has actually produced themselves. If a club has produced players through their pathways programs or are local juniors. Why should they just lose those players, Due to others clubs just splashing around sponsors money. It’s totally unfair & clubs wishing to buy those players, should have to also pay the club directly for the honour of buying any of those players. The clubs who produce those players should also be given leeway in their own cap , to hold onto their own players. Or exactly what is the point of spending so much time & effort in producing your own players?

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