In 2015, the NRL was graced with an all-Queensland final that pitted the Brisbane Broncos against the North Queensland Cowboys. The Cowboys had fought intense battles throughout the season with their star player Johnathan Thurston leading the team to NRL glory. While there is no clear-cut favourite, the NRL betting odds should favour these top 5 teams in the 2016 season.
North Queensland Cowboys.
The Cowboys entered the final as underdogs and went on to defeat the Brisbane Broncos in the final, a team who they had lost to only a few weeks earlier on their home turf at Suncorp stadium. The Cowboys should retain most of the team that they had who won the premiership last season, along with some new signings including Shaun Hudson and Jahrome Hughes from the Townsville Blackhawks.
Under the watchful eye of Wayne Bennett, the Brisbane Broncos are always a force to be reckoned with. Since the club’s inception, they have won the premiership six times and they have been runners up once. Wayne Bennett is a coach that knows how to select and train the best talent to win premierships. The 2015 season saw the Broncos finish their season with faultless discipline. Their focused attitude saw the team have the fewest penalties conceded in the league, the second fewest missed tackles and the second highest completion rate of sets. With star player Sam Thaiday set to return in the 2016 season, expect the Broncos to make their presence felt early on.
Fox Sports have claimed that if there is a rugby league god, that he won’t let down the Panthers in 2016. The Panthers have had a strong pool of talented players, however they have been let down by injury affecting their team. Several players that have been earmarked for NRL glory form a part of the squad including 24 year old Matt Moyland, Peta Hiku and Josh Mansour. The Panthers have already gone into preseason training to get the team fitter for the 2016 season. The 2015 Holden Cup ladder saw Penrith take out the title in the under 20 competition. Promotions of players to the senior team should see them improve their premiership chances in 2016.
Although they don’t hail from a traditional rugby league state, the Melbourne storm can be the dark horse of the NRL competition. Many doubters consider their line-up as ‘aged’. While young rookies are being introduced to many other teams, teams such as the Storm who boast a roster of experienced players could create the opportunity for the team to contend for the grand final. Retirement beckons for their star players Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, however if coach Craig Bellamy gets his team in order, they may come out as the underdogs of the 2016 competition.
Although the Sydney Roosters finished the 2015 season as minor premiers, their campaign was ended by the Brisbane Broncos who eventually went on to become runners up. One of the threats to their campaign is that their season could peak too early. The Roosters have the opportunity to improve, however they also have the threats such as rumours circulating around star player Michael Jennings move to rivals Parramatta. Although it is speculation, it appears as though the squad is still unsettled somewhat.
On a positive note, former Newcastle coach Rick Stone had joined the Sydney Roosters in a coaching role where he would identify and nurture upcoming talent along the central coast. With this combination, the Roosters should be in serious contention. For their sake, they should avoid running out of steam too early.
The contention in the 2016 NRL competition will be a close one. The five teams presented only make up a handful of the other contenders and dark horse teams that could also contend for the 2016 premiership title. Last year’s finalists should be favoured to be in the top 2 again, but really it could be anyone’s game.