The 2023 NRL Close To Mid-Season Report Card
Talofa lava NRL footy fans. As we are approaching round 13 of the 2023 NRL Premiership and a couple weeks off the halfway point as well as being on the eve of the announcement of the State of Origin teams, I thought it was a good time to give out some report cards for our current top 8 teams and assess how they are travelling.
by Simon Amani I 21 May 2023
Before we do, let's step back and appreciate just how awesome the competition has been thus far. Crowds and Television viewers are on the up and games have been a lot closer, evidence being the two points separating the 3rd placed Panthers and the (surprisingly) 10 th placed Roosters.
This time last year it was Panthers 1st, with a bit of daylight than the rest of the competition. This year has seen the Broncos, Panthers, and Rabbitohs look like genuine premiership contenders at different times as well as big improvements from teams like the Warriors, Titans, and Knights. The rise of the Dolphins who were written off by a lot of people before a ball was kicked off has added so much to the competition this year and given Brisbane a real buzz. Disappointments of the season so far would have to be Cowboys, Roosters, Sea Eagles, and Eels. Teams whose rosters suggest they should be further up the table than where they currently sit outside the top eight.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
The form team of the competition at the moment. Top 2 in tries, try assists, line breaks, and post-contact meters, they have the attack and superstars to beat anyone on their day which is scary considering they are 11th in completion rate. Will lose a couple of stars to Origin but will definitely be there come finals.
Best start to the year for the Bronx as they have bullied the lesser teams but also have been beaten by the Raiders, Rabbitohs, and Storm. Heavily reliant on Reynolds, Haas, and Carrigan, a lot sits on their shoulders. With the addition of Walsh, they have firepower all over the park with athletic young backs and an improved defence. Depending on injuries, are capable of remaining top four prospects come finals time.
The champion team started the year slow out of the gates. There is a noticeable difference without Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau lost to the West Tigers and Bulldogs respectively, and have been lacking that killer line speed on defence as well as Api’s dummy half smarts. The Panthers will be depleted at Origin time but will have enough class and experience to have a real crack at a 3-peat come finals footy.
Mixed bag in general by the sharks so far who have started to hit their straps in the last couple of weeks. A well-coached team with a solid pack driven around the park by reigning Dally M winner Nicho Hynes. The Sharks will be there come finals time but have so far lacked the consistency to really cement a top-four prediction.
The nature of the competition this year has seen the usually dependable Storm losing 4 out of 10 games so far. Injuries have affected them this year but with one of the best spines in the competition and hopefully getting Papenhuyzen before finals as well as keeping big Nelson Asofa - Solomona on the field, the Storm are still very capable of making a run at the premiership.
Rating : C+
Surprise team of the competition so far with a few upsets under their belt. With an experienced dependable pack and the ability to arm wrestle teams and play tough finals-style footy, they have the ingredients to make the top eight depending on injuries. Without a real out-and-out superstar, it's hard to see them being real title contenders.
Rating : A+
Slow start to the season but surprisingly have won their last 4 games following the news of losing their best player Jack Whiton. Well coached and have a forward pack to match anyone. Will be in a pack of teams battling for a place in the Top 8.
Great start to the season and a definite difference this year with high completions and improved defence from last year. The performance of Shaun Johnson has also had a lot to do with the rejuvenated Warriors. Their season sits on the shoulders of Fonua-Blake, Tohu-Harris, and Johnson. If these 3 men can stay on the field for the majority of their games then they have a real chance of making the Top eight. Will be part of a pack of teams vying for the last 2 or 3 spots in the top eight.
TITANS / ROOSTERS / KNIGHTS / SEA-EAGLES / COWBOYS
Along with the Dolphins, Raiders, and Warriors, all these teams will fight out a close battle for spots 6-8. Underperforming but still with quality rosters, I believe Roosters and the Cowboys can make their way into the top eight.
Ratings: Roosters and Cowboys get a D, everyone else a C –
EELS / BULLDOGS / DRAGONS / WEST-TIGERS
No chance, it’s over, come back next year
Rating: F’s all round
Been an awesome year so far, bring on Origin!! Going to be a good fight for spots in the top eight. Let’s see which teams are contenders or pretenders.