NRL Rd 9 - Cowboys v Roosters
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 09: James Tedesco of the Roosters runs the ball during the round nine NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Sydney Roosters at QCB Stadium on July 09, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The 2022 NRL season is rapidly approaching, with pre-season training underway, trials just weeks away, and off-field discussions around contracts and COVID continuing.

What has become clear over the past couple of weeks is that it’s going to be a very different looking season.

COVID is already wreaking havoc on the pre-season with players and staff being forced into isolation, and with cases only picking up, that’s going to create an intriguing situation for the NRL and ARLC to deal with.

Nonetheless, the show must go on, as it has for the last two years in various bubbles and hubs, but this time around, it’ll be, at times, with different players who a vast majority will have never heard of.

In more directly on-field action, the Penrith Panthers will look to go back-to-back, the South Sydney Rabbitohs will aim to go a step better, and clubs at the bottom will look to rise to the top on the back of big off-season recruitment surges.

In the State of Origin arena, the New South Wales Blues will look to repeat their dose of 2021s medicine against the Queenslanders, who are now set to be coached by Billy Slater, while there is also the rather large matter of a Rugby League World Cup at the end of the year.

Off the field, the contract circus will continue, with the Dolphins likely to be in the news every other day as they attempt to build their squad out towards a full 30.

In no particular order, here are the ten headlines you’re going to read in 2022.

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10. Bulldogs bark as late-season surge sees finals footy

The Canterbury Bulldogs have been on a large-scale off-season recruitment raid, with Phil Gould and Trent Barrett making their mark felt strongly on the club.

Canterbury have brought in a long list of players for 2022, led by Matt Burton and Tevita Pangai Junior, but also including Matt Dufty, Josh Addo-Carr, Brent Naden, Joshua Cook, Paul Vaughan, Braidon Burns and Max King.

The complete roster overhaul has been well and truly designed to move the club on from a long stint of bottom-four finishes, something they have simply been able to avoid as they attempted to fix their salary cap mess.

Canterbury are going to take some time to gel - that is almost a given with so many new players.

That means it’s going to take a late-season surge, but so long as they can stay fit, they will do just that. They have an excellent squad and play the Knights, Cowboys, Warriors and Sharks during the last six rounds, which, on paper at least, seem winnable games.

NRL Rd 18 - Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: Bailey Biondi-Odo of the Bulldogs celebrates a try during the round 18 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Cbus Super Stadium, on July 18, 2021, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
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7 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for your efforts here Scotty. The other site is rally missing your contributions.

    In no particular order.
    1, Roosters, plenty are saying the same but I’m not so sure. Panthers and Storm as standard.
    2, Parra, lucky to make finals as is their trend.
    3, Reyno to be the buy of the year. Not only account for Souths (sans Mitchell helps) but playing in Sept 6th-7th finish. Kevvie gets his extension.
    4, Not so sure about Dogs. Plenty of good recruits but lacking in key positions. Add Mahoney and Kikau and 2023 will be better for Sept.
    5, NRL will start past this covid wave and V’landys will have option B,C and D lined up to keep the games played. The summer sports are victims of timing.
    6, SoO will be significantly tighter than this year. NSW tend to forget Qld were missing plenty of talent and/or really under done. I said it in 2020, Qld have better pack, better halves and better coaches.
    7,Aust team will still be stacked with NSW because, much like the NSW team, the squad is picked on individuals.
    8, Hard to argue with Tommy going back to back but how many players have had a year like that 2yrs in a row.
    9, Payten is trying too hard to be a tactician. He has talent, youth and experience but not allowing them to play to their strengths. Bennett would have this team competitive every week.
    10, I was expecting a big Saints call. No faith in Woodsy and Mbye to change their fortunes? 😉

    Cheers

  2. Amazing all the media barracking for the rorters. How about another Storm vs Rorters GF for the next 20 years. NRL and Channel 9 would love that. Any way not going to happen.

    Dragons will struggle while ever Griffin is coach, expect another low placed finish.
    Cronulla are the sleeper club for this year. I don’t rate Barrett who has achieved exactly ZERO as a first grade coach. Can’t see the Eels improving at all, won’t be a top 4 this year.

  3. I can see Penrith and Melbourne both just falling every so slightly off the wagon this year… Although haven’t we been saying that about Melbourne for a long time?

    Brisbane in September – agree.

    Reckon the only competition to Tommy for Dally M could be Teddy.

    And I’m not making any call on Saints… Could be a long year, or, if the young talent finds its way, a very good year. No idea.

  4. For mine I reckon Souths will be the sliders. If they are to maintain anywhere near the last few seasons Mitchell will have to challenge Turbo for Dally M. I can see Storm and Panthers sliding in 2023 but unlike Souths they’ve maintained most of their squads for this season. Munster has been playing with the attitude of a park footy player, if he stays sober and away from the punt look out.

  5. Coaster; given Souths made the 2021 GF it is a pretty much a given that they will slide this year. They have lost their coach and their half back. Latrell Mitchell is a loose cannon. Wayne could handle him, but the new guy will struggle.

    I’ll put my neck on the line and say Souths will not make the eight, Latrell will squabble with the manager and his manager will have him out of there at the end of the season. Dolphins-bound maybe ? Just remember where you read it first!

  6. Cynic I reckon Bennett would have him in a heartbeat. Not so sure they’ll miss the finals but I wouldn’t miss them if they did, 🙂

Comments are closed.