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NRL Expert Tips | Free Pre-Season Table Forecast 2024

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Experienced pro MrG aka Gerard Condon provides expert NRL tips and content each week for our Reading The Play followers and subscribers.

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NRL Pre-Season Table Forecast 2024

Last years Grand Finalist each have multiple key player losses in to this new season and for mine that brings each back a few levels and I expect a very competitive and close top 6 on the table. I have the Panthers and Roosters sitting top two and each rated on near similar spots; next then the Storm and Broncos also close together. I then have the Warriors, Sharks and Eagles take up my top 7 spots.

Expect that one of the Rabbits, Cowboys or Knights then round out the top 8. After these top 10 at this stage (pre season) found it hard to see where the list, defence and overall improvement is with all of those below. I was against the Eels to make the finals last season (and again), but am also happy to be against and risk the Rabbits to perform at their best all season long and make them a strong chance of missing the finals and top 8.

My top 8 changes are Sea Eagles in and Raiders and Knights out.

Panthers
Roosters
Storm
Broncos
Warriors
Sharks
Sea Eagles

then

Rabbits, Cowboys, Knights

then

Eels
Dolphins

Titans
Raiders
Bulldogs

Dragons, Tigers

Panthers

4 outs, but most notably Crichton, Leniu and Cogger. Have obviously won 3 back to back titles, outstanding coach and system and Nathan is elite, but have them coming back a few ratings points and a tougher year ahead. That is three quality outs.

Draw: Two of their byes are prior to last two State Of Origin. Tough start to season with UK trip then Storm (Melbourne) archrivals Eels then Grand Final re match v Broncos. Outstanding home ground advantage. Have outstanding long term Home record, and again last season only dropped two losses at Penrith Park.

Roosters

Had them rated top two last year and then a slow start and season riddled with key injury outs they struggled to build wins and momentum, yet their best on occasions was very good and still played finals. Their top 20 looks very strong, like many their halves need to get the job done but a sharp coach and are always well prepared.

Draw: Tough opening 4 games to season with LA then Brookvale then Rabbits then Panthers; but do get 14 games v bottom9 teams from last season. Building a very good Home record at new Moore Park stadium winning 6 of 8 there last season.

Storm

Bellamy’s final year, expect he learnt a lot out of last year that improves them this season, and all but very little list change. Pappy back, looks in outstanding condition, best spine in the comp, great home and travel record. They will be good again.

Draw: 12 games v last season’s top8 and 12 v the bottom9, but do also play twice top of table contenders Panthers, Broncos, Warriors, Knights, Roosters, Rabbitohs and Eels. Have quality long-term winning record at Home, won 9 straight at AAMI Park last season.

Broncos

4 outs with Farnworth and Flegler significant, have depth but does it measure up all season long missing such rep players? Walsh and Mam are high quality, need an aging Reynolds to hold up and play 80% of their games, huge improvement to away record last year and have a gift home draw as always. Still have them back a few levels on last year.

Draw: 7 of their first 12 games at Home, plus 18 x 7 day turn around (or more) during the season. They play just three of last year’s top8 teams twice and have three consecutive home games to finish the season. Huge improvement in their Away / road record last season (11 and 1) saw them just miss minor premiership and make Grand Final.

Warriors

Sharp coach, great home record, should have built some further belief off last season and then add RTS being back! The quality of their defence (top 3) flew under the radar last year; and they have a good draw.

Draw: 18 games with 7 day or more turn around will help with their travel commitments, they also get 13 games v last season’s bottom9. They made their long awaited return to Mt Smart Stadium last season a huge plus winning 8 of 10.

Sharks

Softest draw of the comp on paper, it helped the Raiders (leaking 26 a week last yr and a negative differential) fall in to the finals, Sharks were already top 4 last yr so expect a soft draw also takes them a long way this season. Smart coach, quality at #7, 6 and 1 and can hurt you down each edge.

Draw: Looks a soft draw, highest number of any in playing 15 games vs last season’s bottom9 plus play twice v Bulldogs and Dragons. Add to this 18 x 7 day or more turn arounds for a team who finished top 4 last season it again looks a very winnable edge.

Sea Eagles

Brooks a very good get, Turbo back, list balance and some depth all look positives, look no excuses to start the season and they will hurt many with their attack. I have them on the up and improving and top 6, but also very dependent on (clearly) on Turbo staying healthy. Lets hope so.

Draw: Looks a fair draw with no significant advantage or disadvantage, have an even split of 24 games against last season’s top8 and bottom9. Generally, their best is at Home (Brookvale) won 6 of 10 last season but were poor with distant travel losing 4.

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Rabbitohs

As suggested happy to risk, their best could win the comp but also hard to trust through the wear and tear of a long season. Last yr by mid-year looked a real contender yet then it all fell off the rails? When the going gets tough are they all on the same page?

Draw: 7 games vs last season’s top4, plus a few distant games in LA, Melbourne and 3 trips to Brisbane. Also get Panthers, Storm and Broncos twice. Surprisingly were poor at Home last season with a 4 and 8 record.

Cowboys

Very much the Jekyll and Hyde mob for mine, their best is good yet within weeks it can all disappear, Drinkwater the key, thin through the middle and defensive issues on their outside edges? Hard to catch.

Draw: Positive run home at end of season with 6 of last 8 games in Townsville plus byes in Rds 19 and 25. This season they have also do not have distant travel legs to Melbourne, Auckland or Newcastle and only 7 interstate / away games. Longer term Home has been a key advantage, but very much a mixed bag last season with a lot of inconsistency.

Knights

Finished very strongly last year and most notably had their defence in order (top 4) then Ponga caught fire and the rest is history. Cogger looks a very good get, quality home ground advantage (9 and 3 last year). Something similar performance wise to last season and they are top 8, I marked them 7 to 10.

Draw: Get Panthers, Storm and Warriors twice but also 13 against the bottom9 of last season. Play the most games (7) of any team vs last seasons top 5. Should have near full house and significant home advantage for all 12 home games in Newcastle. Won 9 at Home last season and did improve on the road with 5 wins.

Eels

Was against them last year and they missed the finals, not sure where all the improvement comes for that to now change given no significant or major list upgrades? Clearly like many will need the best from their two quality halves most weeks; no sure on the depth or outside edges or the quality of form to play top 6 let alone play finals.

Draw: Play Panthers, Broncos and Storm twice throughout the year, and then every top 4 team from last season in their run home through the final seven rounds. Still questionable road record when away from home (Comm Bank Stadium), lost 8 of 13 last season. Play 5 games vs teams fresh off a Bye.

Dolphins

Some quality recruitment in Farnworth, Flegler and Averillo but Gillbert now a key season out and significant loss. Took us all by surprise last year, typical Bennett they dig in each week and are building very nicely for the next few years ahead. Depth and a long arduous season caught them out in the end, suspect it might be the same again.

Draw: 7 of opening 11 games in Brisbane, also have their 3 byes prior to Rd18, but over all a tough draw. Play 3 games prior to Origin without their rep players, and in addition to interstate travel schedule (Sydney, Melbourne, etc) they also have 4 distant road games in Darwin, Auckland and Perth. 6 of last season’s win came at Home (Redcliffe or Suncorp)

Titans

Big challenge for Hasler, getting their fitness, mental toughness and defence right. No doubt his record, and the Titans attacking footy can be very entertaining, but it might take the coach a season to work it all out and get the right pieces in place for success.

Draw: Look advantaged with a soft opening to the season, bye Rd2 and only play 1 top 8 team of last season in the opening 7 weeks. Would need to improve Home record significantly off only winning 5 last season.

Raiders

Wighton a significant loss, questions and or quality over #6 and the spine quality and experience (and combinations). They have a quality forward line up and some back 5 strike but defensively have lacked consistency off leaking 26 a week last season. Their best can mix it with the best, we just don’t seem to see it consistently for months long periods through the last few seasons.

Draw: Get two of last season’s bottom3 teams twice in Tigers and Bulldogs, get 12 games v last season’s bottom9. Poor overall Home record last season winning only 6 of 11. Their draw vs teams twice looks helpful with only the Warriors out of last season’s top4.

Bulldogs

Crichton very significant signing, high player turn over but still look short on a marquee halves combination and quality and depth through the middle? Majority of their signings come from good clubs and have solid first grade grounding that should provide an overall base of improvement but still look a year or two away from being a real contender.

Draw: Only team with no 5 day turn arounds, also only play Panthers, Broncos and Storm just once each and of last seasons top 4 only play the one team Warriors twice. Have 4 distant road games through the final weeks of the season. Off only 7 wins last season and 15th spot can only be upside, 4 of the 7 wins came when Home (Belmore, Accor).

Dragons

New coach will make a significant difference but it’s going to be a work in progress through the first few years as he tries to get the list, attitude and moving pieces right. They will be very fit and will show resolve, their best 17 can compete but the overall depth and a few key injuries could really test it all. Have a favourable draw but looks green shoots and two years away.

Draw: No excuse early with just one v last season top8 side in opening 6 weeks. Play Panthers and Broncos who will be without rep players through Origin period. Play 4 home games in final 5 rounds to finish the season. Their out of Sydney and Away record is horrendous (0 from 12 and has been for many seasons) and their 5 wins last season all came when at Home.

Tigers

Rookie coach off back to back wooden spoons and doubt on a quality halves combination looks to make it all seem a big ask. Looks a lot of work and a few more hard years (and some quality youth) for a slow turn around.

Draw: Play out of Sydney from Rd9 to Rd13; play 13 games v bottom9 teams from last season plus in now playing more (10 games) at Leichhardt and Campbelltown should be a helpful advantage. Away last season just 1 from 12.

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Having coached at a senior level for 16 years including 3 years on the coaching staff of an NRL club Gerard Condon is a long term avid student of the game. He’s coached sides to win titles at a senior level, run the football arm of a successful district club, managed professional players and worked in various development roles, so it’s fair to say the game of Rugby League is certainly in his blood and supports an experienced and unique offering.

Mr G’s NRL previews and betting tips combine this knowledge and ‘read’ of the current weekly form with a statistical and betting analysis to provide his followers with a unique and successful approach. He spends hours each week watching and reviewing each and every game assessing the strengths and weakness of the form to then weigh against that of the betting markets. His previews and betting tips have been published on the internet via two sports forums for 7 years prior to his public offering through Reading The Play.

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