The opening round of the NRL Pre-Season Challenge has been run and done, with punters getting their first look at every team ahead of the season proper.
While the Penrith Panthers and Sydney Roosters kick-started their campaigns with impressive first-up wins, others were equally exciting as they displayed their premiership credentials.
BetDeluxe looks at the NRL premiership futures market and four teams with the silverware firmly in their sights.
I mean, we must start here, right? The back-to-back reigning champions are $4 favourites with BetDeluxe as they look to become the first team in 40 years to win three consecutive premierships. Not since the Parramatta Eels team of 1981-83 has the hat trick been achieved, and never has it occurred in the NRL era.
The Panthers got their season off to a flying start with a 22-16 victory over the Eels last week, but the first-half scoreline of 18-4 really showed they mean business.
With Ivan and Nathan Cleary leading the charge in 2023, it’s a reasonable expectation that the Panthers will be challenging at the end of the season and for their piece of history.
Is $6.50 a genuine bargain for the tri-colours? We think so.
The team most likely to cause Penrith issues this season got their year off to the perfect start with an eight-point win over the Melbourne Storm on Sunday. Most impressively for the Roosters was the fact six individual players scored tries, and none of them was named Joseph Suaalii, Daniel Tupou or James Tedesco – their three leading scorers in 2022.
Adding Brandon Smith (Storm) to the roster could be one of many winning moves this year. Trent Robinson’s men are widely expected to climb the mountain for the first time since their back-to-back premierships in 2018-19, and we’re more than happy to take $6.50 to find out.
But didn’t you say they lost? Yeah, but that was to the Roosters. And they were still pretty impressive.
The Storm will look different in 2023 after losing Brandon Smith, Felise Kaufusi, Jesse Bromwich, and Kenny Bromwich during the off-season. But if there’s one coach in this league that can make it work, it’s Craig Bellamy.
While they went down to the Roosters by eight points at GMHBA Stadium last weekend, the Storm will be buoyed by tries from Tyran Wishart, Will Warbrick, Sualauvi Faalogo and Grant Anderson.
The biggest question revolves around the health of Ryan Papenhuyzen, who continues to recover from a serious knee injury. If Pap can return and find some of his pre-injury form, the Storm will undoubtedly prove a difficult match-up for every other club this season.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
If there’s one team who would like to end the premiership-winning run of Penrith, we’re sure it’s these guys.
The Panthers have defeated the Rabbitohs in the finals for the past three seasons, including the 2021 Grand Final. They’ve been on the precipice of success for a long time yet have only secured the one premiership in 2014.
They went down to the Sea Eagles by two points in their Pre-Season Challenge match, but the game was decided after Manly posted three tries in the space of fine minutes during the first half.
Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Damien Cook have committed to the club long-term, while Alex Johnston and Cameron Murray are legitimate match-winners.