With the ‘hit and giggle’ trail matches and the arduous pre-season training regimes now behind each team, fans, coaches, and players alike have set their sights on the real deal – Round 1.
For some clubs, the pre-season period could not have panned out better, whilst the unlucky remainder will be counting the cost of their campaigns.
Although there were a myriad of positives to be taken from the summer months, all teams will be striving to improve on their trail match form and learn from the lessons dealt out across them.
With the first spin of the Steeden within touching distance, we raise the big question that face each of the NRL’s 16 clubs.
Should the tag of favourites apply?
Despite falling desperately short of the ultimate prize in 2019 and tripping at the penultimate hurdle last season, the Canberra Raiders Premiership window is still well and truly ajar.
Although they enter 2021 minus John Bateman and Nick Cotric, the Green Machine will welcome the return of their retooled rake Josh Hodgson after spending a prolonged period on the sideline.
'Josh Hodgson has eclipsed Cameron Smith to become the best'https://t.co/nFL6GONw2J
— Hull KR News 🔴⚪️ (@hdmhullkr) June 1, 2020
Will the return of their co-captain allow for progression to a Premiership in the nation’s capital? Some pundits believe so.
Despite their strong coaching group, fortress like home ground, rabid fanbase and a playing roster that is experienced, talented, and familiar with one another, most bookies still have Ricky Stuart’s men at double figure odds to hoist the Provan-Summons trophy.
If you’re a punter looking for value, you could do a lost worse than backing these current Raiders to land the club’s fourth title and their first since Mal Maninga’s farewell in 1994.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.