The resumption of the NRL season brings with it some new challenges for all involved. Last week we had a good chat with NRL expert Steve Green… here are his thoughts on some of the major issues…
Steve backed the Warriors for least season wins at $6 or better at the start of the season. They’ve shortened and are now into $5.
“Something I flagged at the start of the season was that depth was a worry for them, particularly in the forwards. Since then they’ve lost another prop forward to a long-term injury and really are at desperation stakes. There’s talk now of old players coming out of retirement for a short contract.
“A few people have said the relocation could see them bond, and bring them together. I look past these sorts of things because you just don’t really know.
“It could also be frustrating for them, they could be missing home, there could be resentment. I don’t think anybody can really assume that they’re sitting around together every night singing Kumbaya.
“You can’t really look into these things. I concentrate on things I can assess. They started poorly, losing both their games and I think we’re on a good thing there.”
“Due to the break and the uncertainty, I actually think people are overanalysing the draw.
“The main thing I’ve looked at is the venues – which teams have been gifted the ability to play at their regular home grounds?
“That’s the Cowboys at their new stadium in Townsville, the Eels at Bankwest Stadium, Wests at Campbelltown or Bankwest (either are basically a home game), the Broncos at Suncorp and the Storm at AAMI Park. They’ll have some familiarity to their home games, which is a tick for them.
“It’s a slight factor which gives them a nudge in the analysis, but not too much. I don’t think it’s a massive issue, to be honest. Players are pretty good at picking up quickly and playing at various grounds. Particularly as there are no fans, so you’re not going to have that home-ground fan advantage factored in.”
“When we’ve got a little more data I’ll definitely be doing a little more analysis on the impact of no crowds – looking at whether there’s a trend with points, or a trend at the end of games. One hypothesis that was put forward is teams might slacken off at the end of games because it’s the fans that really drive them. We didn’t really see that in Rounds 1 and 2. So it’s hard to know.
“I do think the fans have a role to play in generating 50/50 calls and marginal penalties for their team. People say ‘the home team only wins the penalty count by ½ a penalty, so there goes that theory‘… But it’s not just what you see, it’s what you don’t see. Perhaps the home team should’ve lost the penalty count significantly because they were getting away with blue murder in the ruck?
“I think people will underestimate how much it matters. I think there’s even a subconscious element where people think “this team is at home” because they’re named first. Does that feed into market mispricing because people react to it?
“I’ll now look at basic every game as being at a neutral venue. The five teams actually playing at home may have some very slight familiarity, which may change it, but only minimally.
“The home-ground advantage previously was about 6 points, so that will change.
“I actually love it when there’s this kind of randomness and uncertainty because I back myself to adjust faster than the market does to what’s happening.”