Stock up on your favourite toilet paper, strap on an NRL face mask and go into lockdown for the long season (actually 3 seasons) ahead. Commencing in autumn, going all through winter and for those lucky enough, continuing into spring, the NRL is one of the toughest battles a professional can face. It’s a true mental and physical contest, culminating in the ultimate final on Sunday, October 4th, with only 1 winner left standing. And I’m talking about the punters, not the players! So without further ado, let’s get stuck right into the much-anticipated opening round of NRL season 2020.
Each week I will be updating this list, highlighting any big movers (up and down) with a keen eye on the Grand Final ahead and any further potential season bets. The current investment on NRL futures is 15 units with a very high degree of confidence in achieving a profit at the end of Round 25. Markdown 6pm Sunday, September 6th in your calendar, I guarantee it will have been worth the wait to collect.
As discussed in the NRL Season Preview, current Power Rankings are as follows:
- Canberra Raiders
- Melbourne Storm
- Sydney Roosters
- Manly Sea Eagles
- South Sydney Rabbitohs
- Parramatta Eels
- North Qld Cowboys
- Brisbane Broncos
- Newcastle Knights
- Cronulla Sharks
- Canterbury Bulldogs
- Wests Tigers
- Penrith Panthers
- St.George/Illawarra Dragons
- NZ Warriors
- Gold Coast Titans
This is where the real fun begins. Every round I will rate each match by running a complex algorithm, utilising both my statistical database and the many intangible factors associated with NRL matches, to calculate my assessed line. This line will then be fine-tuned based on the team lists announced Tuesday night and bets will be suggested accordingly. Most of the potential team changes later in the week can be speculated early and I will factor that into my confidence levels accordingly. Despite the potential downside of unforeseen late player withdrawals, I’m a big believer that luck always evens out in the long run, and these will go our way just as often as not.
Parramatta Eels vs Bulldogs
Assessed Line: Parramatta -10.0
Ladbrokes: Parramatta -10.5
Traditional rivals go at it in a cracking NRL opener. The Eels look strong all over the park, covering the Bulldogs in most areas, aided by what should be a huge crowd and the biggest home ground advantage in the NRL, they will be extremely hard to beat at “Fortress Parra”. With 2 Bulldogs players dropped on the eve of the match for recent indiscretions, hard to see an upset here.
Canberra Raiders vs Gold Coast Titans
Assessed Line: Canberra -10.0
Ladbrokes: Canberra -9.5
If this game was played at the back end of last year the line would have been closer to 16.5 but this should be a closer affair early in the season. Much will depend on both halfbacks, will the Raiders UK import settle in quickly and will Ash Taylor produce what he is potentially capable of? A few unknowns but against a depleted Gold Coast, hard to go past the Raiders at home.
Nth Qld Cowboys vs Brisbane Broncos
Assessed Line: Nth Qld -3.5
Ladbrokes: Nth Qld -3.5
Two of last year’s most disappointing teams who I think will both improve this year, particularly the Cowboys. They square off in one of the great NRL Derbys, and after numerous close and thrilling contests, Brisbane holds the edge. However, in recent times the Cowboys have dominated at home and I think they will have the advantage again here playing their first game at their new stadium.
Newcastle Knights vs NZ Warriors
Assessed Line: Newcastle -6.5
Ladbrokes: Newcastle -6.5
After a substandard 2019, the Knights will be looking for a big improvement first up at home under their new coach. They come up against the enigmatic Warriors who look to be definite wooden spoon contenders this year. This feels like a real trap match, as it would be no shock to see Newcastle win by 20 OR the Warriors win. My assessed line is spot on with the market, so VERY happy to not bet here.
South Sydney vs Cronulla Sharks
Assessed Line: Souths -6.0
Ladbrokes: Souths -5.5
The Rabbitohs are the genuine mystery package of 2020. There is no doubting their talent in the backline, and if they can fire in the forwards after losing some key players upfront, they are definitely capable of winning the comp. Their 1,6,7,9 are special and with the Wayne Bennett polish they should be too strong for an already injury-depleted Sharks, who I think will struggle all year.
Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters
Assessed Line: Roosters -3.5
Ladbrokes: Roosters -6.5
A bit of a grudge match this one in which Penrith seem to play their best. Two teams that I think will underachieve in 2020, but fresh in the year and at home, the Panthers will have no better opportunity of an upset against last year’s Premiers. With Cordner rested, the possibility of some rain around, I definitely think the plus is too big in this one and represents great VALUE.
Manly Sea Eagles vs Melbourne Storm
Assessed Line: Manly -1.5
Ladbrokes: Melbourne -2.5
Now, this one is definitely a grudge match, with some brutal battles between these teams in recent times. Manly relish the underdog tag and they would love to knock off The Storm at Brookie. With two of the shrewdest (and angriest) coaches in the business, this one should go right down to the wire. But both Trbojevic brothers now playing, I have Manly as favourites to win. VALUE.
St.George/Illawarra vs Wests Tigers
Assessed Line: Saints -5.5
Ladbrokes: Saints -1.5
Another potential trap match here with St.George looking so good on paper last year (littered with Origin players) but performing so dismally. Once again, they look strong on paper (even without Widdop), add some new coaching assistance plus an opening home game at WIN, I have assessed their line much shorter. Despite the lack of confidence, the value here is just too big NOT to bet.
5 units Penrith Panthers +6.5 @$1.90 vs Roosters
5 units Manly Sea Eagles +2.5 @$1.90 vs Melbourne
3 units St.George/Illawarra Dragons win @$1.80 vs Wests
3 units Parramatta/Canberra/Souths win multi @$2.65
Total outlay: 16 units
Good luck and great punting,