Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash
After a COVID-stricken 2020 season, the NRL is expected to be back on track in 2021. The new season is scheduled to begin on March 2021 and will last, hopefully without suspensions, until October. The teams are already shaping up ahead of the season and bookies have early lines in place already.
With less than a couple of months to go before the season kicks off, bookies have early odds for all the favorites. You can place your bets on sportsbet.io rugby league outrights right now if you believe you can tell who wins NRL’s upcoming season. Other markets are also on offer, including Top 8 and Grand Final Winner. Storm fans may have been hoping to see their favorite team in the driving seat, but minor premiers Penrith Panthers are the odds-on favorite for the title.
Panthers for the Win?
It’s safe to say that the Panthers didn’t have a lot of luck in terms of titles. After the early 90s Grand Final appearance, they went on a dry run for almost 15 years. The last title for the Penrith-based team came in 2003 when they defeated the Roosters as major underdogs. For nearly a decade, the Panthers were not very successful until last year’s appearance in the Grand Final when they lost to champions Melbourne Storm.
The Storm’s squad gave their fans hopes for a repeat, but according to bookies, 2021 will be the Panthers’ season. Sportsbet.io gives the current minor premiers the top chances to win the regular season and the GF, putting them well ahead of the Storm or other competitors.
The Panthers lost Zane Tetevano to the Leeds Rhinos, but replaced him with Jaeman Salmon. Spencer Leniu re-signed and the team lost vet Josh Winger in the final year of his contract. With the acquisition of Robert Jennings and Scott Sorensen, the Panthers have a well-rounded team that’s supposed to go a step up from last year.
They’ve put a very spirited display in the Grand Final, but ultimately fell to the Storm. Melbourne fans were optimistic ahead of the 2021 season that their team would win again, but that’s not likely to happen according to the bookies. This will largely depend on Cameron Smith’s decision. The legendary hooker is still weighing up his future and if he decides to leave, the Storm could fall furthervdown the list of favorites.
It has been a very busy offseason for many NRL teams including the premiers and minor premiers. Not counting Smith’s decision, the team snagged Reimis Smith as the main pick-up. The winger is supposed to replace Suliasu Vunivali as a finisher and he certainly has the quality. The Storm’s mastercoach Craig Bellamy can extract his full potential and make him a top-quality finisher.
When it comes to the Panthers, the top recruit this season is most likely Matt Eisenhuth. James Tamou’s departure certainly left a hole in the squad, but if anyone could fill in, that would be Eisenhuth. He’s a hard-working player who will certainly be a key addition to the squad. This is a return for Eisenhuth at his previous club where he mostly was a reserve. This time, however, he should fit right in with the first squad.
He’s been named among the top recruits ahead of the 2021 NRL season and we agree. Eisenhuth is also one of the reasons why the Panthers are flying high with the bookies as early outrights. Of course, the season is long and anything can happen, but so far, the Panthers lead all lists, and we believe they have the quality to win this year.
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