AS origin fever engulfs us once again its also the halfway mark of the 2022 NRL season.
Like most of you, I wasn’t that keen on receiving my mid and end of year report card off my teachers at school.
So I’m going to be the teacher in this scenario and give every team in the competition a grade (out of 10) and tell you what has been good and what has been bad about every team in this season’s competition, as well as highlighting each team’s best player after 13 rounds.
Let’s start at the top and work our way down.
Just WOW! I didn’t envisage such a season after winning the competition last year. Scarily for other teams in the comp they seem to be going even better than they were last year.
So many positives with not one negative I can find. Depth is the Panthers biggest strength with the ‘next man up’ mantra working exceptionally proficiently for Ivan Cleary’s mountain men. Back to back premierships looks excitingly ominous. 9.5/10 Best player Isaah Yeo.
While humming along in 2nd spot the Storm are still the Panthers biggest obstacle of the elusive back to back premierships. They have shown glimpses of enterprise, especially from Cam Munster, but overall the Storm just haven’t been the Storm thus far this season. Which I suppose for the other teams in the comp you just know they’re gearing for something special in the second half of this season. 8/10 Best player Cameron Munster.
How many of you reading this right now thought the Cowboys would be in 3rd position after 13 rounds? No-one? Thought so. Me either. I actually had them finishing last this year which I’m now lamenting bigtime. But gee they’ve been a breath of fresh air. Players who have come out of nowhere like Nanai, Cotter, Tualagi, and Lumi, have captivated the competition. How far can they go? All the way if you ask them! 9/10 Best player Jeramiah Nanai.
Read what I just wrote for the Cowboys but put the Broncos name in instead of the Cowboys and it’s a carbon copy! North Queensland and the Brisbane Broncos in the top 4 after 13 rounds! The Broncos are experiencing a rebirth on the back of many facets, the main one being Adam Reynolds’ arrival. Couple that with Selwyn Cobbo blasting from out of space to land on the wing for QLD, Payne Haas getting better (and bigger) every game, and a team of youngsters with so much self-belief its palpable. One of the real success stories of this season, can they hold on? That’s the $64,000 question. 8.5/10 Best player Katoni Staggs.
The Eels always seem to be there or abouts as far as competition heavyweights go. Their main Achilles heel is their consistency. On their day they are one of, if not the best team in the comp, unfortunately for Parra fans it doesn’t happen anywhere near enough. With the prized scalps of both the Panthers and Storm this year they are most definitely capable, finding a way to put 4 or 5 great performances seems to be where they fall. Dylan Brown has been epic for them this season as has their Best player Mitch Moses.
The Sharks are just a better footy team than they’ve been in a while. Everything looks fresher in the shire. Nicho Hynes has been great, Matt Moylan is back to his vintage self, Talakai has been a revelation and their new coach Craig Fitzgibbon is one cool calculated customer. A bit like Parra their great performances this season have been spasmodic with a fair bit of room between them and the top teams in the competition. But its all good news for the Sharks, no matter where they end up this season it will be an improvement. Sharkie fans have a team to cheer loud and proud for this season, at last! 7/10. Best player Nicho Hynes.
Its really hard to get a gauge on the Roosters this season with one week seeing them look like they could beat anybody to other weeks looking like a bottom 8 team. They definitely have the cattle to cause major upsets in this competition but I think a top 4 spot is unlikely. The stunning emergence of Joseph Suualii is a major positive as is the continual growth of gun teenager Sam Walker. But it’s in the engine room where most concern lays, with their big boys looking sluggish at times whilst not having a recognized number 9 has hurt them. 6.5/10 Best player Joseph Manu.
From last year’s grand finalists to just clinging on to 8th spot after 13 rounds this season. The Rabbitohs are obviously missing coach Wayne Bennett and Captain Adam Reynolds from last season’s team and Latrell’s injury is also a headache, but the mojo shown last year from Cody Walker and co has vanished. They still have Damien Cook and Cam Murray and Latrell to come back, but you feel they need more. Only time will tell. 6.5/10. Best player Damien Cook.
The Dragons have definitely started to come good after a horrendous end to their 2021 campaign which saw them obliterated from the ‘BBQ Gate” scandal. Its been a steady climb back to some sort of normality but alas they still have a long, long way to go until they’re considered a powerhouse in the competition once again. Keeping hold of their young emerging talent should be their main objective and finding players to help out inspiring skipper Ben Hunt, who is also leading the Dally M’s at the halfway mark and is far and away their best Player.
Sea Eagles 10th
No Tommy Turbo no way. The Sea Eagles probably like no other team in the comp really rely on one player to be fit and healthy for them to prevail on the field. So when their best player Tom Trbojevic did his shoulder recently against the Eels requiring season ending surgey that’s when Manly’s hope faded. Don’t get me wrong, they are far from a one man team but without the Turbo for the rest of the season the Sea Eagles chances for glory have plummeted. 6/10. Best Player Haumole Olakau’atu
The Raiders are starting to gather momentum after a disastrous start to the year having both their new recruit and halfback Jamal Fogarty injuring his knee pre-season only coming back this past fortnight, along with losing their international hooker Josh Hodgson in the first game of the season. But things are starting to change for the better for Ricky Stuart’s men, in fact I feel out of all the teams currently out of the top 8 the Raiders are the ones who can make a late charge. 6/10. Best Player Joseph Tapine.
Knights. A lot was promised from the Novacastrians this year but little has been delivered. One of the most inconsistent teams in the comp started the year with back to back victories but little has gone their way since then. Star player Kayln Ponga’s contract negotiations derailed their season for an 8 week period but one thing that is on their side is time. There is still 13 rounds of footy remaining, and with Mitch Barnett back firing after a lengthy suspension who knows what lays ahead for the Newcastle Knights. 5/10. Best Player Tyson Frizelle.
What a week for Tigers fans. Some will be glad, some will be sad but the fact is their coach Michael Macguire has been sacked effective last Tuesday, making him one of two coaches sacked in Origin 1 week (great timing…NOT!) There’s not much to say about the besieged Tigers except every single one of them both on and off the field must lift! 4/10. Best Player Jackson Hastings.
The other team to have off-loaded their coach this week continuing the frustrating coaching merry-go-round of coaches. I feel for the Warriors. They have been away from their home for 2 and a half years thus rendering them with no real ‘home town’ advantage from their fans, friends, and extended families. They look like a team that wants to go home. As quick as they’re back playing games out of NZ the better. 3/10. Best Player Reece Walsh.
For mine the most underperforming team of the competition. From going from one pass of the football putting them into the 2nd week of finals footy with what would have been a stirring victory over the Roosters last season to languishing at the bottom of the table in 2nd last position this year has for mine been a major shock. Already the drums have started beating for coach Justin Holbrooks head. Something unfathomable 6 months ago! 2/10. Best player. Tino.
Ground Hog Day continues for the hapless Bulldogs. Quite frankly its been a year for them to forget. Hold on. We said the exact same thing last October!! 1/10. Best Player Matt Burton.