Whilst most of the headlines tend to focus on the potential winners of the NRL season, there is always a battle going on at the other end of the table to avoid the wooden spoon.
Last season, in a season like no other, Brisbane came out ‘on top’ of the bottom pile after a close-fought tussle with Canterbury – the first time in their history they had finished bottom of the pack.
Both teams finished with the same record W3 L17, however, it was a terrible points record that sent the Broncos to the bottom of the pile, ending the season with -356 points compared to just -222 for the Bulldogs.
This season, both teams will be looking for vast improvements on their record of just three wins across a 20 game season. We take a closer look at the leading contenders for the wooden spoon for 2021 and you can get all the latest odds with Betway for the upcoming season.
After finishing second to bottom in 2020, the Bulldogs will be hoping for a much better season this time around and following the arrival of a new coach and several new signings, there is hope amongst the Bully fans that they can turn things around this season.
It’s five long years since the Bulldogs last competed in the finals and there is work to do for new head coach, Trent Barrett, especially in the offensive area where the Bulldogs only managed 282 points last season at an average of 14.1 points per game.
There were some glimmers of hope for Bulldogs fans last year. Despite losing 17 games across the season, seven of those games were lost by six points or less. If those games had gone the other way, it could have been a different season for the Bulldogs and it will be down to Barrett to turn that mentality around.
Betway still has the Bulldogs as the rank outsiders to lift and win the Grand Final next season so the pressure will be on the coach and his new players to deliver. Odds: 41.00
Another club with a new coach, the Dragons welcome Anthony Griffin to the dugout in 2021, hoping to turn around the fortunes of a side that last won the Premiership in 2010. Last season they returned a 7-13 record which led them to a 12th place finish, however, Betway already has them as the second to last outsider for the Grand Final in 2021. Expectations externally are not that high, especially following a 48-16 humbling in the Charity Shield against city rivals, South Sydney.
As well as new coach Griffin, the Red V will also feature an entirely new on-field leadership team following the departure of captain Cameron McInnes to Cronulla as well as Tyson Frizell and James Graham, returning to his native, St Helens. That presents an opportunity for players to step up and star playmaker Ben Hunt has been selected as captain for the upcoming season.
There is definitely hope for Dragons fans in 2021 despite their long odds. They have some of the best young players in the NRL, including teen playmaker Jayden Sullivan and fullback Tyrell Sloan. The big question is whether they can handle the step up and perform week in, week out in the gruelling NRL. Odds: 34.00
It may seem strange that a team that finished in a comfortable mid-table 11th last season should be amongst the leading contenders for the wooden spoon in 2021, however, there have been some significant changes at the Wests Tigers and a new era will begin under Michael Maguire.
That new era will begin without two club legends: Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence, who departed at the end of last season along with 12 other squad changes ahead of the new campaign.
As well as the loss of Marshall and Lawrence, star playmaker from last season, Harry Grant, has returned to Melbourne following his season-long loan, leaving a load of gaping holes, especially down the spine of the team.
The Tigers are one of five teams who are currently positioned as 29.00 to win the Grand Final, along with the Cowboys, Warriors, Sharks and Broncos. It is more than likely that one of these teams will at least be scrapping it out down the bottom of the table come the end of the season. Wests Tigers will be hoping they have enough in their pack to avoid the spoon. Odds: 29.00
A new season provides new opportunities for all of these clubs and whilst their odds of winning the Grand Final may be long right now, you can never tell how things are going to pan out across a long season. Make sure you check out the full 2021 NRL Draw and tune in for the opening weekend of the season starting on 11 March.
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
Apr 22, 2021 0