NRL Rd 10  - Tigers v Broncos
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: The Broncos look dejected during the round 10 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Brisbane Broncos at Leichhardt Oval on July 17, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

While many fans gauge their sights to who will win the 2021 NRL Premiership as the season rolls closer, the tight battle at the top might just be as enticing as the scrap to avoid the wooden spoon.

Brisbane *won* the 18th-placed trophy last season for the first time in their history following a nightmare season both on and off the field whilst in a tussle with Canterbury for finishing second last.

The Bulldogs will enter the new season by kickstarting a fresh era under coach Trent Barrett, who has arrived at Belmore alongside a number of key signings.

Both the Bulldogs and Broncos ended the 2020 season with three wins from 20 matches and will look to vastly improve on their disappointing campaigns.

While the two sides both stand a strong chance to avoid the wooden spoon, one of the 18 clubs must claim the league’s most unwanted honour.

We take a look at the leading contenders for the heralded wooden spoon award for 2021 and get the best odds with BET BIND.

Brisbane Broncos

It’s very hard to rule out a side for the wooden spoon having finished dead last the year prior, so here we are.

The boys from Red Hill and their fans endured one of the more disastrous seasons of the modern era, with off-field incidents mirroring their efforts on the pitch.

NRL Rd 12 - Broncos v Sharks
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 31: Kotoni Staggs and Xavier Coates of the Broncos look dejected looks dejected after their team loses the round 12 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Cronulla Sharks on July 31, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Moving forward to 2021 under new coach Kevin Walters, there looks to be some level of excitement in their young crop, but with Kotoni Staggs set to be sidelined for more than half and season and Payne Haas’ return to the field under a cloud.

The Broncos haven’t looked to gain much firepower ahead of the new season and instead have seen David Fifita, Darius Boyd and Jack Bird depart Red Hill.

Canterbury Bulldogs

As aforementioned, the Bulldogs were just as close to the wooden spoon as the Broncos were until their miraculous victory over the Rabbitohs in their penultimate match of the season.

If it wasn’t for that 26-16 win, the club’s current compass would be pointing a lot closer to a wooden spoon for 2021 as well as last year.

While the arrival of Barrett is a key stepping stone to moving up the ladder, it has been the several new faces to the playing squad that have Bulldogs fans licking their lips for 2021 and beyond.

Kyle Flanagan, Corey Allan, Nick Cotric and Jack Hetherington will be viable additions for Barrett, but will it be enough?

NRL Rd 16 - Roosters v Broncos
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 28: Kyle Flanagan of the Roosters makes a break during the round 16 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos at the Sydney Cricket Ground on August 28, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The club will welcome Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton the year after, but their delayed arrivals will do very little in their chances of avoiding the spoon.

St George Illawarra Dragons

The Red V haven’t added a wooden spoon to their trophy cabinet under their current name, with the club’s last bottom-placed finish coming under the name of the Illawarra Steelers in 1989.

If the Dragons are keen to keep that run alive, they’ll need plenty to go their way in 2021.

Another club under new management, with Anthony Griffin taking over the reigns at Kogarah at the end of 2020, the Saints will hope the change in hierarchy will turn the tide for the Dragons.

NRL Rd 18 - Dragons v Raiders
WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 12: Cody Ramsey of the Dragons celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round 18 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium on September 12, 2020 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

A 12th-placed finish in 2020 was no ugly effort for St George Illawarra, but there were clear signs of decline, as several clubs around them look to be on the up.

Wests Tigers

Unfortunately, the Tigers are closer to winning their first ever wooden spoon than they are breaking their finals drought.

Wests posted seven wins in 2020 and will enter the new season without their star playmaker Harry Grant, who has returned from loan to the Storm.

NRL Rd 5 - Tigers v Raiders
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 13: Harry Grant of the Tigers looks dejected during the round five NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Canberra Raiders at Campbelltown Stadium on June 13, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The void will certainly look a lot greater once the season gets underway and it could spell danger for Michael Maguire early into their campaign.

With little leadership and direction from their incumbent veterans, a young Wests squad faces the chances of spiraling into the cellar.