Its an age old question in Rugby League. How does the week off effect NRL clubs who win in the first week of the finals series. Is it always a good thing? Does it hurt a clubs momentum?
If you have a look at betting sites the best bookies tend to think that teams taking the week off heading into the preliminary finals are always the favourites to go on and play in the Grand Final.
The week off allows teams to freshen up in the hardest part of the season. It gives an extra week for players to get over injuries. There is also something to be said for sitting back and watching your two potential opponents next week smash each other as they try to earn the right to take you on in the preliminary final.
The Melbourne Storm have been here before many times and it has been interesting to see how they have approached the week off over the years. At some points the Storm have been concerned by it. We have seen them have hard training sessions to try and simulate game conditions to keep their form and fitness up.These days they seem to be a little more relaxed about it.
Most other clubs are just happy to get so far into the finals that they earn the week off. It is rare we have seen the week off hurt a teams form in the penultimate game of the season, but there is always the possibility that the week off sees a team relax just enough that a more battle hardened team overwhelms them the following week.
The Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers are a great example of two teams that will probably be better for playing the extra game. Both have had attacking issues, their cohesion hasn’t been great over the second half of the year, and the more football booth sides can play as a stable lineup at this point, the better.
Funnily enough both sides are battling it out to face the Storm in the preliminary final.
On the other side of the draw the South Sydney Rabbitohs earned the week off, and once again, they will be happy to sit back and have the week off. They have the far easier draw.
The two opponents the South Sydney Rabbitohs will watch play one another this weekend, the Sydney Rooster and the Manly Sea Eagles, both have their flaws. The Roosters look like a team that is just done. They are out on their feet after a season that has seen the club decimated by injury. The Sea Eagles meanwhile have always felt to me like a team that was over-achieving. They’ve done well this season, but it is hard to see them beating the top sides in the competition.
So what is the best part of a team earning a week off? For me is that we never know how it will effect those teams until they run out on the field.
Sometimes they come out breathing fire, refreshed and ready to go. Other times they look sluggish. You know the week off has effected them and they are in q bit of trouble.
It is what makes this years NRL finals series so intriguing. There are a lot of dynamics at play.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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