NRL is back tonight!
The 2017 premiership season kicks off with reigning premiers Cronulla taking on the Broncos, then continues with a Friday night double header: the Bulldogs versus the Storm and the Rabbitohs taking on Wests.
Our league guru Steve Green has completed his previews on the opening three games.
Sharks v Broncos
It’s not often that the current premiers, playing at home, are installed as underdogs in round one of the next season. But with Barba, Ennis and now Holmes all missing, I don’t blame the bookies for making such a call. The Sharks’ two best players last year were Ennis and Barba and heading into this season, Holmes at fullback was shaping up as their secret strike weapon.
Although the Sharks’ replacement hooker is the very talented youngster Jayden Brailey and Beale will be able to handle the custodian role, this is a Sharks team that is very beatable.
As for the Broncos, although their trip to UK was unsuccessful, they do come into this match with a pretty settled line up. Their 2016 spine is intact and still one of the most impressive in the NRL. Despite missing Parker in 2017, their forward pack is still choc-full of internationals and talented youngsters. Out wide, they have beefed up their depth with experienced recruits like Mead and Moga, so all in all, the Broncos are deserved favourites in this one.
Although the home crowd is an advantage, this Sharks team is missing too much experience in key positions.
I think that the Broncos deserve to be bigger favourites in this one.
Prediction: Broncos by 6.
Bulldogs v Storm
This match is actually match of the round in my opinion. The Doggies at Belmore are always hard to beat and in 2017, they are a team I am picking to surge back into heavyweight contention. As for the Storm, their squad in 2017 is as strong as I have seen it nearly a decade, which is saying something considering their run of Grand Final appearances over that time. If Slater can get back to anywhere near his best and Munster settles in at 6, then only an injury crisis will stop the Storm from making another Grand Final.
As I outlined in my season preview, I expect to see a much more fluent Doggies attack this year. I think this will start with the running game of Lichaa. Without a dominant hooker, a team’s attack will always be dominant and I am happy to hear that Lichaa has been working on this part of his game. Furthermore, the Morris boys are injury free and the Doggies massive pack is the trimmest they have been in years.
The Storm head into this match with Slater missing and more importantly, Tohu Harris out with a serious injury. When you throw in the fact that they have lost Proctor to the Titans, then the Storm’s powerhouse second rowers will be a massive absence to overcome.
Although the likes of Finucane and Kenny Bromwich wont let anyone down, I think the Doggies at home offer value here.
Lets hope Brenko Lee bags a double and Holland kicks some goals to get his points tally going.
Prediction: Dogs by 4.
Rabbitohs v Wests
It’s only round one and already this game has been turned on its head through injury. With Reynolds out, my model was initially screaming that Wests was a solid bet… but then since that news came out, Moses and Brooks have both come under an injury cloud. Although both are likely to take their places, it’s enough of a concern to make me think this match is too much of a lottery.
For Wests, when Tedesco plays they are a chance. He is in the top 5 players in the NRL on my ratings and from an attacking perspective, he is number 1 by a mile. When you throw in Woods, Moses and Brooks, the Tigers have their own Big-4 combination that I think is hard to overcome. But as mentioned above, too much uncertainty for me to get keen on the Tigers here.
As for the Bunnies, I am not sure who is going to replace Reynolds, but whoever it is, he will be is a massive loss. Reynolds’ kicking game is second-to-none and although Luke Kelly is a competitive number 7, during his time at the Eels he often struggled at the top grade.
Prediction: All in all, this one is anyone’s for the taking – but with so much uncertainty, I don’t like to speculate on these matches and so will save my bankroll for better opportunities later in the round.
Subscribers to our NRL package receive these previews for every game of the season, along with all of Steve’s recommended bets – complete with the advised stake and the price to take. All you have to do is place your bets and enjoy the game!
Last season Steve produced over $3,200 in profit (at $100 per unit) at 12% profit on turnover.