We are still a few months away from the start of the NRL season, but as we trundle through Christmas and the New Year that 14th March opener featuring Broncos and Storm looks a little closer.
Of course, a lot can happen between now and then, but it hasn’t stopped the bookmakers from preparing their odds and lines in preparation for the new season. Here’s how they view things so far:
Roosters have been made the clear favourites for 2019
Last season’s Premiers (by the skin of their teeth) and Grand Final winners are once again predicted to be back in the hunt. Madbookie, who offer free bets for NRL, have rated the Roosters at 4.50 to win the Grand Final again. That’s quite the vote of confidence in a competition that is usually tight, although the Roosters have largely kept the group together that delivered last season’s success and been boosted by acquisitions like Angus Crichton. They will be in the mix certainly, but those odds are a big call before a game has been played this season.
Brisbane, South Sydney and Melbourne also backed
Storm were simply outclassed by the Roosters in the 2018 NRL Grand Final, but they will still fancy their chances this year. 8.00 odds are offered for them to go one better in 2019, yet they are put in a bracket of teams like the Rabbitohs (9.00) and the Broncos (10.00) who will also believe they can improve on 2018’s performances. Intriguingly, the opening round of fixtures (14th– 16th March) will see the Rabbitohs face off against the Roosters and Broncos take on Storm. Will this tell us more about the credentials of future champions than the phony war of the off-season?
Bulldogs predicted to flop in 2019
Nobody really expects Canterbury to turn things around anytime soon, but they are top of one interesting market provided by Madbookie – to record the fewest wins of the regular season. 4.00 is cited for the Bulldogs to record fewer wins than any other team in NRL, with Titans and Eagles just behind at 5.00 and 5.50 respectively. If you fancy some sort of miraculous catastrophe to befall Sydney, you can get 251.00 for the Roosters to record the fewest wins.
Ponga heads intriguing Daily M Medal list
Everyone is rightly excited about Kalyn Ponga, who will undoubtedly have a stellar career ahead of him in rugby league. The 20-year-old is a clear favourite at 7.00 to win the Daily M Medal in 2019. But the winner doesn’t always go with the early consensus pick and that can lead to punters getting a bit of value, so don’t rule out the likes of a rejuvenated Ben Barba (26.00), Cameron Munster (15.00), James Maloney (41.00) or Brodie Croft (51.00).
Some predictions to finish….
One can always look a bit foolish in making predictions this far in advance, but here goes: Roosters will top the ladder at the end of the regular season, but ultimately fail in their quest for a second successive Grand Final victory. That victory will go to Melbourne, who will win after their fourth successive Grand Final. The surprise package team could well be North Queensland, who will be boosted by Ben Barba, a man who looked renewed in Super League last season. If he can bring that form back to NRL, he will join the elite group of multiple Daily M Medal winners. Broncos will disappoint and fail to finish in the Top 4.