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The Game 2024 Draw - venues, home game allocations etc

Perth Red

Post Whore
Messages
65,719
Quote from their website

The venues for two Dolphins home games – against the Sea Eagles on Thursday May 9 and the Raiders on Saturday June 1 – remain to be confirmed, due to the finalisation of dates for weekend track works on the Queensland Rail network. One of these two games will be at Suncorp Stadium and one will be at Kayo Stadium
So no sunshine coast game, that lasted long lol
 

Last Week

Bench
Messages
3,646
Tally of matches each team has where their opponent had the bye the week prior.

Bulldogs 6 (3 times in a row between rnds 11, 12, 13) (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Cowboys 6 (2 of which also had bye the week prior) (every game they play between rounds 14 - 21 is against teams coming off byes...)
Eels 6 (1 of which also had bye the week prior) (3 in 4 weeks between rounds 15 and 18, then another 3 between rounds 24 - 27)
Storm 4 (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Penrith 4 (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Broncos 3
Canberra 3 (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Souths 3 (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Tigers 2
Sharks 2
Dolphins 2
Titans 2 (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Knights 2 (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Roosters 2 (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Warriors 2 (1 of which also had bye the week prior)
Dragons 1
Manly 0

To the journos who will use the above for their article, it's spelt 'Last Week.' Not hyphenated,. Pronounced the usual way. It's Swedish.
 
Last edited:

Chimp

Juniors
Messages
2,496
Couldn’t really be happier with the Sharks draw - avoided playing the teams you’d expect to be challengers twice, nice spread of byes, good draws around Origin and a relatively smooth run in to end of season.
If they’re a serious footy team, they’ve got everything in place to have a red hot crack… chances are they choke again at the business end though.
 

sheepbender

Juniors
Messages
502

This would be the reason if the NRL expanded to the USA the west coast has by far the best time slots.
Friday night at 6.30 Vegas time equals Saturday 12.30 pm Sydney time ( sea eagles v rabbits )
Friday night 8.30 pm Vegas time equals Saturday 2.30 Pm Sydney Time ( Roosters v broncos)
then 2 games
Eels v bulldogs at 5.30pm Sydney time and
Titans v Dragons 7.30pm Sydney time
Super Saturday
Again if west coast expansion happened you could have 3 Saturday games Californian time, which translate to Sunday afternoon Sydney time.
Are you suggesting the NRL expands to California..? LA and San Francisco..? Why not Seattle and Vancouver mmm. Hawaii maybe.. Yea nah.

I'm all for RL in the USA but not in the NRL.
 

Canard

Immortal
Messages
34,361

This would be the reason if the NRL expanded to the USA the west coast has by far the best time slots.
Friday night at 6.30 Vegas time equals Saturday 12.30 pm Sydney time ( sea eagles v rabbits )
Friday night 8.30 pm Vegas time equals Saturday 2.30 Pm Sydney Time ( Roosters v broncos)
then 2 games
Eels v bulldogs at 5.30pm Sydney time and
Titans v Dragons 7.30pm Sydney time
Super Saturday
Again if west coast expansion happened you could have 3 Saturday games Californian time, which translate to Sunday afternoon Sydney time.
Don't think this is a pressing concern for the NRL.
 

jim_57

Moderator
Staff member
Messages
4,359
Less ‘bush’ games than last year. Wagga, Mudgee, Sunny Coast & Cairns games gone, maybe more? Didn’t notice any new ones on a glance through.

Gosford gets 2 instead of just one last year, Perth gets one at HBF instead of the double header.

In NZ the Warriors have one game outside Auckland (Christchurch) and no other team has taken a home game there. Last year Napier, Wellington (Warriors) & Hamilton (Tigers) all got a game.


Without the stadium interruptions and less games at smaller venues it could top the record again for crowds if the momentum from last year continues. Weather dependant as always.
 

gerg

Juniors
Messages
2,267
Less ‘bush’ games than last year. Wagga, Mudgee, Sunny Coast & Cairns games gone, maybe more? Didn’t notice any new ones on a glance through.

Gosford gets 2 instead of just one last year, Perth gets one at HBF instead of the double header.

In NZ the Warriors have one game outside Auckland (Christchurch) and no other team has taken a home game there. Last year Napier, Wellington (Warriors) & Hamilton (Tigers) all got a game.


Without the stadium interruptions and less games at smaller venues it could top the record again for crowds if the momentum from last year continues. Weather dependant as always.

Can understand why there are less regional games in NZ. The absolute plonks constantly running onto the field. Probably the same idiots who will now whinge about the lack of big games in their cities.
 

Vee

First Grade
Messages
5,149
Posting a few analyses of the draw for discussion...


The 2024 NRL draw has been released

The Broncos will get a huge leg-up in their bid to go one better and win the title in 2024, while the Sharks are looking at a soft draw.

Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs have copped arguably the toughest fixtures list as they aim to bounce back into the finals.

Fox Sports Lab have broken down just how difficult each team’s draw is using the strength of the schedule based off the Lab Predictor’s ratings for each team, which also factors in how teams have historically gone at scheduled venues.

SHARKS (1st *easiest draw)

Games played against

Top eight
: 9

Top four: 5

Bottom nine: 15

Bottom four: 8

Who they play twice: Raiders, Bulldogs, Titans, Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Dragons, Warriors, Tigers

Analysis: The Sharks have the easiest draw in the NRL in 2024 according to Fox Sports Lab. It’s a cushy start for Cronulla with games against the Bulldogs, Tigers and Raiders within the first four weeks after opening their season against the Warriors in New Zealand. The Sharks play 15 games against teams who didn’t make the top eight in 2023, meaning they possess the softest strength of schedule in the league. In addition, they have a date with what may be a depleted Broncos side just three days after State of Origin Game I.

ROOSTERS (2nd)

Games played against

Top eight
: 10

Top four: 6

Bottom nine: 14

Bottom four: 6

Who they play twice: Broncos, Raiders, Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Storm, Eels, Rabbitohs, Dragons

Analysis: The Roosters begin the season with a tough month including the Broncos in Vegas as well as the Rabbits and Panthers at home. They enjoy a fairly soft draw after the Panthers clash in Round 4, with 12 games out of their remaining 20 coming against 2023 bottom eight sides. The Roosters will play the Storm and Broncos on two occasions but will be licking their lips when they take on two of last season’s cellar dwellers in the Bulldogs and Dragons twice.

KNIGHTS (3rd)

Games played against

Top eight
: 11

Top four: 7

Bottom nine: 13

Bottom four: 7

Who they play twice: Raiders, Bulldogs, Dolphins, Titans, Storm, Panthers, Warriors, Tigers

Analysis: The Knights face off with the team they knocked out of the finals in an extra time classic in the Raiders to open their 2024 campaign, in another potential sell-out at McDonald Jones Stadium. Newcastle enjoy four home games in the first six rounds including the Storm (Round 3), Dragons (Round 5) and Roosters (Round 6). The Knights have 11 games against the top eight from last year and 13 against bottom eight opposition. Queensland hopefuls Kalyn Ponga and Reece Walsh will hopefully go head-to-head just three days after the final State of Origin game in a potential battle for a Kangaroos jersey. Old Boy’s day sees the Knights host the Dolphins and former coach Wayne Bennett in the final round.

COWBOYS (4th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 12

Top four: 6

Bottom nine: 12

Bottom four: 7

Who they play twice: Broncos, Raiders, Bulldogs, Sharks, Dolphins, Titans, Panthers, Tigers

Analysis: The Cowboys have a horror start to the year in terms of travel with five away trips in the first seven rounds. However, they do have six of their last eight games at home to even that out. Importantly, they avoid road trips to Auckland, Melbourne and Newcastle (Pretty happy about this, makes sense), while they play just once before an Origin game, which well help given their number of rep stars. The Cowboys’ Round 4 derby against arch rivals the Broncos is one to circle in the calendar.

WARRIORS (5th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 11

Top four: 4

Bottom nine: 13

Bottom four: 6

Who they play twice: Raiders, Bulldogs, Sharks, Dolphins, Titans, Sea Eagles, Storm, Knights

Analysis: The Warriors will be tested early in 2024 and be made to prove that last season’s top four finish was no fluke. They play top eight teams Cronulla, Melbourne, Canberra and Newcastle in the first four rounds, but all bar one of those (Storm) will be played in New Zealand. The Wahs will play four weeks straight (rounds 9-12) on the road which will test their resolve, however they’ve managed much worse during Covid-hit seasons. They have the bye in the final round.

RAIDERS (6th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 11

Top four: 5

Bottom nine: 13

Bottom four: 6

Who they play twice: Bulldogs, Sharks, Sea Eagles, Knights, Cowboys, Roosters, Warriors, Tigers

Analysis: Ricky’s Raiders have wound up with a pretty good draw once again, as they’ll only play the Storm, Broncos and Panthers once. They do have a tough first couple of months of the season, so if they can manage at least four wins in the opening eight rounds, the Raiders will be in great stead. Canberra will welcome back a favourite son in Jack Wighton in Round 21 when the Rabbitohs comes to town.

DRAGONS (7th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 11

Top four: 5

Bottom nine: 13

Bottom four: 6

Who they play twice: Bulldogs, Sharks, Dolphins, Titans, Sea Eagles, Panthers, Roosters, Tigers

Analysis: The Dragons have a tough double road trip to start the season against the Titans and Dolphins. However, they get a good chance to pick up points in the Origin period facing the Panthers and Broncos without their Origin stars. Shane Flanagan’s side face the Panthers just once at full strength, while they only play top four teams the Storm and Warriors once in 2024. The Dragons will be boosted by just one five-day turnaround early in their campaign and enjoy four home games in the last five rounds to finish the season. Unfortunately, they won’t feature in Magic Round, while they face the Panthers and Storm after their last bye in a tough run home. Flanagan’s clash against his old club and the Dragons’ arch rivals the Sharks in Round 9 is one to circle on the calendar.

SEA EAGLES (8th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 12

Top four: 6

Bottom nine: 12

Bottom four: 6

Who they play twice: Raiders, Titans, Eels, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Dragons, Roosters, Warriors

Analysis: Pretty even draw for Manly, with half of their games coming against top eight sides from last season. For the second straight year, the Sea Eagles will use a ‘home’ game against the Broncos during Magic Round in Brisbane, which is sure to annoy the Manly faithful. New recruit Luke Brooks will no doubt circle Round 25 on his draw as that is when he’ll take on the Tigers, his former club.
 

Vee

First Grade
Messages
5,149
TIGERS (9th) (Ironic that!)

Games played against

Top eight
: 11
Top four: 4
Bottom nine: 13
Bottom four: 4

Who they play twice: Raiders, Sharks, Dolphins, Knights, Cowboys, Eels, Rabbitohs, Dragons

Analysis: The Tigers enjoy the bye to start the season, but the back-end of the year will be far less easy with one of the most difficult runs home in the competition. Amongst the bye in Round 26, Benji Marshall’s outfit will face the Knights (A), Rabbitohs (H), Sea Eagles (H) and Eels (H). Meanwhile, Luke Brooks will face off against his old club in Round 25, returning to Leichhardt after making the switch to the Sea Eagles. They also face the Dolphins and Dragons twice, whilst only playing four premiership contenders in the Panthers, Broncos, Storm and Roosters a singular time.

BRONCOS (10th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 10
Top four: 5
Bottom nine: 14
Bottom four: 5

Who they play twice: Dolphins, Titans, Storm, Cowboys, Eels, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Roosters

Analysis: The Broncos have a favourable draw to start the season with seven of their first 12 games at Suncorp Stadium. Brisbane face just three of last year’s top eight teams twice. They also have three home games to finish the season, which could be a huge advantage in the race for the minor premiership. The Broncos have a long stint before their first bye, but then have three in the second half of the draw after Round 13, so they should be well rested for a tilt at going one better than their 2023 Grand Final finish. However, the Broncos will face the defending premiers Penrith twice. Their Round 6 clash with arch rivals the Dolphins featuring former stars Tom Flegler and Herbie Farnworth will be one to circle on the calendar.

ELS (11th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 12
Top four: 7
Bottom nine: 12
Bottom four: 6

Who they play twice: Broncos, Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Storm, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Tigers

Analysis: The Eels have a favourable start to the season facing just two of last year’s top eight teams in the Panthers in Round 2 and the Raiders in Round 5. However, the Eels will need to win often early because their draw gets far more challenging later in their campaign. Parramatta face heavyweights the Panthers, Broncos and Storm twice each. Their run home looks treacherous so early wins will be paramount and they also have four five-day turnarounds to navigate. Their Round 2 clash with arch rivals the Panthers is one to circle on the calendar.

DOLPHINS (12th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 12
Top four: 7
Bottom nine: 12
Bottom four: 7

Who they play twice: Broncos, Titans, Storm, Knights, Cowboys, Dragons, Warriors, Tigers

Analysis: The Dolphins have arguably one of the worst draws in the NRL as they are the only team to play before all three Origin games without their representative stars. They also travel to Darwin, Auckland, Bundaberg and Perth for away games. However, they have a cushy start to the season with seven of their first 11 games either at Suncorp or Kayo Stadium. They will also get a chance to rest players to avoid injuries and fatigue with three byes in the first 18 rounds, which could address the depth issues that plagued them in their inaugural campaign. Their clash with the Broncos that will see Thomas Flegler and Herbie Farnworth return to face their old club at Suncorp should be a belter.

PANTHERS (13th)

Games played against


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Top eight: 10
Top four: 5
Bottom nine: 14
Bottom four: 5

Who they play twice: Broncos, Sea Eagles, Storm, Knights, Cowboys, Eels, Rabbitohs, Dragons

Analysis: The Panthers have a horror start to the year against Round 1 specialists the Storm and then they face their bogey team the Eels and last year’s grand finalists the Broncos. However, they have timely byes before the last two State of Origin games, which could be a huge advantage if as many of their players feature in the series as the last couple of seasons. Penrith face last year’s top four teams in the Storm and Broncos early in the season and then not again until later in their campaign, while they face the Warriors just once in Magic Round. However, Penrith have three five-day turnarounds in Rounds 8, 17 and 23. The Panthers will do well to win another minor premiership given their challenging draw.

STORM (14th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 12
Top four: 6
Bottom nine: 12
Bottom four: 4

Who they play twice: Broncos, Dolphins, Knights, Eels, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Warriors

Analysis: Tough, tough draw. Melbourne kick-off their season with a doozy against the defending champs and will have to play top eight sides in each of their first four games. The Storm are slated to face Brisbane, Warriors and Penrith twice throughout the season, so if they can manufacture a top four finish once again, it will be some sort of effort from Craig Bellamy’s men.

BULLDOGS (15th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 13
Top four: 5
Bottom nine: 11
Bottom four: 4

Who they play twice: Raiders, Sharks, Knights, Cowboys, Eels, Dragons, Roosters, Warriors

Analysis: The Bulldogs get a real chance to climb up the ladder from their 14th place finish with no five-day turnarounds at all in 2024. Cameron Ciraldo’s side also face last year’s top four teams the Panthers, Broncos and Storm just once, while they face the Warriors in Rounds 14 and 25 in the back half of the year. Unfortunately, they don’t have the cruisy finish to the season they enjoyed last year with tough road trips to the Cowboys and Broncos in Rounds 20 and 21. They then face the Dolphins in Bundaberg in Round 24 and the Warriors in New Zealand in Round 25. Their clash with the Panthers in Round 10 should be a cracker with Stephen Crichton one of several former Penrith players up against his old club.

TITANS (16th)

Games played against

Top eight
: 12
Top four: 6
Bottom nine: 12
Bottom four: 4

Who they play twice: Broncos, Sharks, Dolphins, Sea Eagles, Knights, Cowboys, Dragons, Warriors

Analysis: The Titans have a cushy start to the season facing just one of last year’s top eight teams in the first seven rounds and will want to make hay while the sun shines early. They face the Dragons, Bulldogs and Dolphins to go with a bye in the first month. However, the Titans use up all their byes by Round 17 and will play 10 straight games to finish the year culminating in a Round 27 clash with Penrith, so keeping fresh for a finals charge will be key. Hasler’s Round 7 clash with old club Manly should be mouth-watering, particularly if both clubs are travelling well.

RABBITOHS (17th *toughest draw)

Games played against

Top eight
: 13
Top four: 7
Bottom nine: 11
Bottom four: 5

Who they play twice: Broncos, Sharks, Sea Eagles, Storm, Eels, Panthers, Roosters, Tigers

Analysis: The Rabbitohs have the worst draw in the NRL according to Fox Sports Lab, with a whopping 13 games against 2023 finalists. Like the other three Vegas teams, Souths have to face a tough draw early in the season, taking on the Broncos and Roosters in Rounds 2 and 3. They’ll again finish the regular season against the Roosters like they did in 2023. In addition to playing the Tricolours twice, they are slated to face last season’s top three finishing teams in the Panthers, Broncos and Storm twice. On the bright side, Jason Demetriou’s men will play the back-to-back wooden spooners (Tigers) twice, but they face a huge task to break back into the finals.
 

Vee

First Grade
Messages
5,149

A rival NRL club boss says the Brisbane Broncos have a “rails run’’ that should ensure they are again a lock for a top four spot next season.
The chief executive says it is a draw in name only, and resembles more of a TV schedule that Channel Nine designs to ensure the Broncos remain an NRL powerhouse every year.

The club boss, speaking on the condition of anonymity on Monday afternoon, declared: “They get the rails run every year. It’s all about TV. It is unbelievable.

“Good luck to the Broncos. But it is Channel Nine that does it. Not the Broncos … they should be in the top four every year.”

It comes after the NRL 2024 draw released on Monday revealed the Broncos were again among the big winners in the build-up to next season, although the Sharks, Bulldogs, Dragons and Warriors all have every right to be cheering as well.

The biggest losers appear to be the Melbourne Storm, while Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins have also been dudded during the State of Origin period.

Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs and Eels will also have no excuses after their shock finals absence this season, with the Panthers, Roosters, Raiders, Sea Eagles and Knights also faring well.

But once again, it was the Broncos who had rival club bosses choking on their Cornflakes on Monday morning when the draw was released after being allocated another dream run.

It includes:


• Only ONE five-day turnaround (against the Storm);
• FOUR games with a six-day turnaround;
• EIGHTEEN games with more than a seven-day turnaround (only the Rabbitohs have more with 19);
• TWELVE primetime Thursday/Friday night kickoffs (four on Thursday and eight on Friday), the Storm are next with10;
• FOURTEEN games at Suncorp Stadium and 16 all up in Queensland; and
• Astonishingly, the Broncos also don’t leave Queensland for their final seven rounds of the season.

It’s little wonder the Broncos are $4.50 second favourites for the premiership behind three-time defending champions Penrith ($4).

In fact, the only noticeable blemish on their draw are the teams they play twice, which are either Queensland rivals or fellow powerhouses.

Those include the Roosters, Panthers, Storm, Rabbitohs, Eels, Cowboys, Dolphins and Titans.

As the chief executive chuckled: “Mate, it is not just me. It is other CEOs as well, we laugh about it.

“They get the rails run every year. It’s all about TV.

“Channel Nine has so much power and when the Broncos are winning in Brisbane, the ratings are through the roof.

“That is what it purely comes down to.”

Many believe the only way to make the draw fair would be to have every team play each other once in a shortened season.

Asked if that can ever be the reality, the CEO responded: “No, not realistically.

“And in the Broncos’ defence, it is not their fault. Brisbane is a big market.

“But all I say is this: With all those resources, with the draw that is such an advantage to them, with the massive nursery they have got, a massive sponsorship base, and no one really wants to leave the Broncos, it is very hard to lose a player. They should be in the top four every year.”

While no game is easy for the Tigers on their recent history, they have also gained a relatively friendly start to the season but a horror run home.

But Cameron Ciraldo will be given every opportunity to turn things around after the Bulldogs emerged as one of the big winners.

With Ciraldo certain to enter the new year as arguably the coach under the most pressure, the Dogs have been handed a more than favourable head start with no five-day turnarounds across the entire season.

They also have a great run against the top four teams, only playing the Panthers, Broncos and Storm once.

The big boost for the Dragons will come during the Origin period when they face the Panthers and Broncos without their biggest stars.

Some of the big matches to look forward to include new Sea Eagle Luke Brooks’ round 25 return to Leichhardt, while Titans coach Des Hasler gets his chance for revenge against Manly in round seven on the Gold Coast.

For the Roosters only 10 of their 24 games will be against top eight opposition from this year.

The Eels and Rabbitohs are two other clubs with their destiny well and truly in their own hands after their shock omission from the top eight this season.

Parramatta’s draw overall is probably better than last year although the do face top four teams the Panthers, Broncos and Storm twice.

One club with a reason to feel short-changed is the Storm who face their toughest test to keep their 23-year round one winning record intact when they face the Panthers.

While their backend of the season is also arguably the toughest of any club with four away games in their final five fixtures in a run against the Rabbitohs (A), Panthers (A), Dolphins (H), Cowboys (A) and Broncos (A).

The Dolphins have been dealt a draw blow as the only team to play every pre-Origin round in 2024.

They face the Raiders (R13), Storm (R16) and Rabbitohs (R19) before each Origin match and could be without Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Tom Gilbert, Tom Flegler and potentially Felise Kaufusi from a roster that suffered from a lack of depth in 2023.
 

Vee

First Grade
Messages
5,149

BRONCOS

Luck of the draw:Another cracking draw with the Broncos playing seven of their first 12 games at Suncorp Stadium. They play just three of last year’s top-eight teams twice and have three consecutive home games to finish the season. They have three byes after round 13. In other words, no excuses.

Banana peel: The Broncos will face their grand-final nemesis, the Panthers, twice. Their long haul to America to kick-off the season in Las Vegas will impose some early fatigue.

Can’t-miss match: Round six versus the Dolphins, when defectors Herbie Farnworth and Tom Flegler will face their former Broncos teammates at Suncorp on Friday, April 12.

Byes: R13, R16, R24

Play once: Wests Tigers, Dragons, Bulldogs, Knights, Warriors, Sharks, Raiders and Sea Eagles.
Play twice: Roosters, Panthers and Storm, Rabbitohs, Eels, Cowboys, Dolphins and Titans.


Turnarounds:
5 days:
1 game
6 days: 4 games
7+ days: 18 games

Verdict: A brilliant draw, even better than last season. Top-four certainties if they stay fit.

Grade: A

PANTHERS

Luck of the draw: The defending premiers have a bye ahead of the last two State of Origin games, which will be a huge advantage if they supply as many representatives as they have in the past. They face the Storm and Broncos early in the season and then not again until later in the year, as well as the Warriors just once in Magic Round. They also have three five-day turnarounds, in rounds 8, 17 and 23, the last of which leads into their clash with Parramatta.

Banana peel: They have the most difficult start to the season possible for the three-time champions, facing Storm who have won 19 straight round one fixtures dating back to 2005, down in Melbourne. They then back it up by facing arch rivals Parramatta (who beat them twice in 2023) followed by a grand final rematch against the Broncos, both at home at Bluebet Stadium.

Can’t-miss match: R3 v Broncos, the grand final rematch. This shapes as another classic match up after they faced off in one of the all-time great grand finals.

Byes: R6, R16, R19

Play Once: Bulldogs, Roosters, Wests Tigers, Warriors, Sharks, Dolphins Raiders and Titans
Play Twice: Broncos, Storm, Eels, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Dragons and Knights

Turnarounds:
5 days:
3 games
6 days: 4 games
7+ days: 16 games

Verdict: They’re the best team in the competition but they’ve been thrown as many challenges as possible.

Grade: B

EELS

Luck of the draw: The Eels have a promising start to the season, facing just two top eight teams from 2023, Penrith in round 2 and Canberra in round 5. They’ll need to start fast because things get difficult later in the year.

Banana peel: They face the Panthers, Broncos and Storm twice throughout the year, and then every top four team from 2023 in the final seven rounds of the season. It’ll be a brutal finish to the year and they’ll need to bank wins early so they’re not fighting for a finals finish in the last two months of the season. They also have four five-day turnarounds throughout the year to manage.

Can’t-miss match: R2 v Panthers,: The Eels beat the three-time premiers twice in 2023 and Ivan Cleary’s team will be hellbent on getting one back early on Parra.

Byes: R9, R16, R20

Play once: Raiders, Cowboys, Warriors, Titans, Dolphins, Sharks, Knights and Dragons
Play twice: Panthers, Broncos, Storm, Tigers, Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Roosters

Turnarounds:
5 days:
3 games
6 days: 6 games
7+ days: 14 games

Verdict: They need to take every opportunity to start the season fast.

Grade: C

BULLDOGS

Luck of the draw: The struggling Bulldogs have been given every chance to improve with no five-day turnarounds across their season. They also face the Panthers, Broncos and Storm just once each throughout the season, with the Warriors the only top four side they play twice (rounds 14 and 25).

Banana peel: They have a tough end of season when it comes to road trips. They have a fortnight in Queensland when they face Cowboys followed by the Broncos away in rounds 20-21, and then they take a home game against the Dolphins to Bundaberg in round 24, followed by a trip to New Zealand to face the Warriors six days later.

Can’t-miss match: Round 10 v Panthers when former Penrith centre Stephen Crichton will face his old teammates and is expected to have the No.1 on his back for Canterbury.

Byes: R8, R15, R19

Play Once: Panthers, Broncos at Brisbane, Titans, Rabbitohs, Tigers, Sea Eagles, Storm and Dolphins
Play Twice: Sharks, Roosters, Knights, Raiders, Warriors, Eels, Dragons and Cowboys

Turnarounds:
5 days:
0 games
6 days: 8 games
7+ days: 15 games

Verdict: A fair draw they should take advantage of.

Grade: A

DRAGONS

Luck of the draw: The Dragons have a big boost during the Origin period, facing the Panthers and the Broncos without all their representative stars. They then face the Panthers just once more, as well as top four teams Storm and Warriors once throughout the season. Only one five-day turnaround early in the season helps too, as well as four home games in the last five rounds.

Banana peel: It’s a tough start to the year with two away games in Queensland against Des Hasler’s Gold Coast followed by the Dolphins, and they miss out on Magic Round too. A brutal fortnight against Panthers and Storm after their last bye will start their ride into the finals too.

Can’t-miss match: R9 v Sharks. Shane Flanagan faces the team he coached to a premiership for the first time as an opponent.

Byes: R11, R16, R20

Play once:Cowboys, Warriors, Knights, Broncos, Storm, Raiders, Rabbitohs and Eels
Play twice: Roosters, Sharks and Panthers, Titans, Dolphins, Tigers, Sea Eagles and Bulldogs

Turnarounds:
5 days:
1 game
6 days: 8 games
7+ days: 14 games

Verdict: The Dragons can see big improvement with this draw.

Grade: B+

DOLPHINS

Luck of the draw: It’s vital the Dolphins start well with seven home games at Kayo or Suncorp in the opening 11 rounds. They also have three byes in the first 18 rounds to advance up the ladder if they can build momentum.

Banana peel: The Dolphins won’t be happy with the NRL mad scientists who put together the season draw. It’s arguably the worst schedule in the NRL. They are the only club to play before all three Origin games - without their rep stars. They also travel to Darwin, Auckland, Bundaberg and Perth for away games.

Can’t-miss match: Round six versus the Broncos, when their big-gun recruits Herbie Farnworth and Tom Flegler face their former Broncos teammates at Suncorp on Friday, April 12.

Byes: R3, R14, R18

Play once: Panthers, Raiders, Eels, Sea Eagles, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Bulldogs and Roosters
Play twice: Broncos, Storm, Warriors, Dragons, Tigers, Knights, Cowboys and Titans

Turnarounds:
5 days:
2 games
6 days: 4 games
7+ days: 17 games

Verdict: Overall, it’s the rough end of the pineapple. Wayne Bennett has his work cut out.

Grade: E

COWBOYS

Luck of the draw: The Cowboys have six of their last eight games at home, plus byes in round 19 and 25, so they could come charging home. They also avoid going to Auckland, Melbourne and Newcastle, three of their four toughest road trips. They are one of just five teams to play only once before the three Origin games.

Banana peel: The Cowboys have five away trips in the first seven rounds, including a tough Good Friday visit to Suncorp to face last year’s grand finalists the Broncos.

Can’t-miss match: Nothing beats a Cowboys-Broncos derby. The Cowboys will be gunning for revenge after being towelled up by the Broncos in Townsville last year. Pencil in their round 4 clash at Suncorp on March 29.

Byes: R16, R19, R25

Play once:Warriors, Storm, Knights, Dragons, Eels, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Sea Eagles
Play twice: Broncos, Panthers, Dolphins, Titans, Tigers, Bulldogs, Sharks and Raiders

Turnarounds:
5 days:
1 game
6 days: 10 games
7+ days: 12 games

Verdict: This is a good draw with late byes and a dream run home to playoffs redemption

Grade: B
 

Vee

First Grade
Messages
5,149

TITANS

Luck of the draw: What a start to Des-neyland. The Titans face just one of last year’s top-eight teams in the first seven rounds. If they want to play finals, they should beat the Dragons, Bulldogs and the Dolphins in the opening four rounds, plus a bye in round two capping a promising first month.

Banana peel: The Titans run out of byes after round 17, so it’s a long run home, culminating in a final-round clash against premiers Penrith away from home. Ouch.

Can’t-miss match: Bring on round 7 when new Titans coach Des Hasler hosts the Manly club that sacked him on Saturday, April 20. Hasler would relish revenge in a Gold Coast belting of Anthony Seibold’s Sea Eagles.

Byes: R2, R13, R17

Play once: Panthers, Tigers, Storm, Bulldogs, Raiders, Rabbitohs, Eels and Roosters
Play twice: Dolphins, Cowboys, Broncos, Warriors, Knights, Sharks, Dragons and Sea Eagles

Turnarounds:
5 days:
1 game
6 days: 5 games
7+ days: 17 games

Verdict: A very promising start but a tricky end could bring the Titans unstuck.

Grade: C

SEA EAGLES

Luck of the draw: Have an even split of 24 games against top eight and bottom eight teams from 2023. Kick off the season against Rabbitohs in Vegas before first home game at 4Pines Stadium against the Roosters on a Sunday afternoon in round 2. That’s followed by the Eels away and the Dragons at WIN in round 4. Play the Broncos in Magic Round in a Friday night blockbuster at Suncorp.

Banana peel: Of last season’s top four teams, the Sea Eagles play premiers the Panthers and Warriors twice. They also have two games against the Rabbitohs and Eels, two teams expected to be among the big improvers in 2024.

Can’t-miss match: New Sea Eagles recruit Luke Brooks will have to wait until round 25 to take on his former club Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday, August 22. The other grudge match will be against Des Hasler’s Titans in round seven on the Gold Coast, with the return bout in round 20 when Hasler returns to Brookvale Oval for a Sunday arvo showdown.

Byes: R13, R17, R22

Play once: Dolphins, Bulldogs, Tigers, Cowboys, Broncos, Storm, Knights and Sharks
Play twice: Titans, Warriors and Raiders, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Eels, Dragons and Panthers

Turnarounds:
5 days:
0 games
6 days: 7 games
7+ days: 16 games

Verdict: On the surface this looks a fair draw for Anthony Seibold’s Sea Eagles given the evenness of the split of games between top eight and bottom eight from last season.

Grade: C

RABBITOHS

Luck of the draw: Jason Demetriou won’t have to wait long to put a summer of hard work to the test for last season’s shock top eight casualties. Take on the Sea Eagles first up in Vegas followed by a blockbuster Thursday night clash in round 2 against the Broncos at Suncorp. Also have two games against last year’s wooden spooners Wests Tigers and two against arch rivals the Roosters.

Banana peel: Of last year’s top four teams, the Rabbitohs play the Panthers, Broncos and Storm twice.

Can’t-miss match: The two most anticipated clashes for the Rabbitohs every year are against the Roosters. In 2024 they will take on the Chooks in round three at Allianz and again in the final round 27 showdown at Accor in what is always one of the games of the season leading into the finals.

Byes: R7, R13, R17

Play once: Cowboys, Titans, Dolphins, Bulldogs, Warriors, Dragons, Raiders and Knights
Play twice: Sea Eagles, Roosters, Sharks, Storm, Eels, Tigers, Panthers, Broncos

Turnarounds:
5 days:
1 game
6 days: 3 games
7+ days: 19 games

Verdict: The Rabbitohs won’t be looking for any excuses following their 2023 top eight omission, and they certainly don’t appear to have too many reasons to complain looking at this draw.

Grade: C

ROOSTERS

Luck of the draw: Have only 10 of their 24 games against top eight opponents from the 2023 season but 14 against bottom eight sides. Breaking it down further, of the reigning top four sides they take on the Broncos and Storm twice but the Panthers and Warriors once.

Also play Bulldogs and Dragons twice.

Banana peel: Will have to hit the ground running with a tough schedule over the opening month of the season. First up, it’s grand finalists the Broncos in Vegas followed by the Sea Eagles at Brookie, the Rabbitohs at home and then the reigning champs the Panthers in round four also at Allianz.

Can’t-miss match: Lock and load Thursday, March 28, for what is sure to be one of the most explosive and volatile games of the season when new Roosters recruit Spencer Leniu joins forces with his former sparring partner Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to take on the might of the Panthers. Of course, no NRL fan will forget the run-in these two had previously, but this time it will be Leniu and Waerea-Hargreaves up against James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota.

Byes: R14, R19, R23

Play once: Warriors, Cowboys, Dolphins, Panthers, Knights, Sharks, Tigers and Titans
Play twice: Rabbitohs, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Storm, Dragons, Raiders and Eels

Turnarounds:

5 days:
2 games
6 days: 4 days
7+ days: 17 games

Verdict: Shouldn’t be too many complaints here with the rub of the green going the Roosters’ way when it comes to the breakdown of the split between top eight and bottom eight teams from 2023.

Grade: B
 

Vee

First Grade
Messages
5,149

KNIGHTS

Luck of the draw: In the wake of the epic extra-time win in the first week of the finals over Canberra, the Knights will kick off the 2024 season with a rematch against the Raiders at home in round 1 in a Thursday night blockbuster at McDonald Jones Stadium.

That will be one of the four games played in Newcastle over the opening six rounds, including the Storm (R3), Dragons (R5) and Roosters (R6).

Banana peel: Kalyn Ponga v Reece Walsh has the potential to be one of the head-to-head battles of the season. Unfortunately, it is set down for July 20, just three days after the third State of Origin. Fans as well as the NRL will be hoping whoever wins the race for the Queensland No.1 jumper backs up for this one (that’s providing Ponga puts his hand up for Origin selection next year).

Can’t-miss match: Old Boys Day in Newcastle is always a special day. Next year it comes in the final round against former Knights coach Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins.

Byes: R12, R16, R21

Play once: Rabbitohs, Sharks, Dragons, Roosters, Cowboys, Eels, Sea Eagles and Broncos
Play twice: Raiders, Warriors, Panthers, Storm, Bulldogs, Dolphins, Titans and Tigers

Turnarounds:
5 days:
1 game
6 days: 4 games
7+ days: 18 games

Verdict: Have 11 games against top eight teams from 2023 but 13 against the bottom eight teams. Although that does include taking on reigning top four teams the Panthers, Storm and Warriors twice, and one game against the Broncos.

Grade: B

RAIDERS

Luck of the draw: The Raiders have the luxury of taking on consecutive wooden spooners, the Wests Tigers twice; and other cellar dwellers Canterbury twice and the Sea Eagles twice in 2024. A total of the 12 games will be against last year’s bottom eight finishers and seven of those matches will be played in front of a home crowd at GIO Stadium.

Ricky Stuart’s men have also avoided playing Penrith, Storm and Broncos twice in 2024.

Banana peel: Canberra will start their 2024 campaign with five matches in the opening two months against top eight opponents from last season including the grand finalists Brisbane in round 7. Four of those five games will be away from home but will be at GIO Stadium against the Tigers in round 2, Eels in round five and Titans in round 6. The Raiders will want to have a top eight spot sewn up before the back end of the season otherwise they’ll be forced to rely on wins against Penrith and the Roosters in rounds 25 and 26.

Can’t-miss match: Ricky Stuart was left in tears confirming that Jack Wighton was leaving the club, will he break the Raiders hearts again in round 21 when the former Raiders stalwart returns to the nation’s capital for the first time in the colours of South Sydney. Promises to be a highly anticipated, emotionally charged encounters.

Byes: 10, 14, 19

Play once: Panthers, Broncos, Eels, Titans, Dolphins, Storm, Rabbitohs and Dragons
Play twice: Sharks, Tigers, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Cowboys, Warriors, Knights and Roosters

Turnarounds:
5 days:
1 game
6 days: 5 games
7+ days: 17 games

Verdict: Will play each top four side, including the Warriors twice, but a favourable draw with 12 games against bottom eight sides

Grade: B

WARRIORS

Luck of the draw: While the Warriors will have to start their season with four straight matches against 2023 top eight opponents in the Sharks, Melbourne, Raiders and Knights, only the round 2 clash against the Storm will be played in Australia with the rest at home. They’ll get to play the Broncos at home three days after State of Origin game II, which will likely see a depleted Brisbane outfit without their representative stars.

Banana peel: The Warriors will face the Sharks, Knights, Raiders and Storm twice this year but will also have to take on bottom eight finishers from 2023 the Titans and the Sea Eagles twice. Both the Titans and the Sea Eagles are predicted to have a resurgent season and could pose some difficulty for the Warriors. Travel is inevitable for the Kiwi based team but will be on the road for four-straight weeks between rounds 9-12. Andrew Webster will want to have a finals berth sewn up before round 27 after his side drew the last round bye.

Can’t-miss match: The Warriors will have to wait until round 17 to avenge the embarrassment that the grand finalists Brisbane heaped on the side in week three of the finals when they dispatched them 42-12. This time the Warriors will have the advantage of the homeground support.

Byes: 13, 19, 27

Play once: Panthers, Broncos, Rabbitohs, Dragons, Roosters, Cowboys, Eels and Wests Tigers
Play twice: Sharks, Knights, Raiders and Storm, Sea Eagles, Dolphins and Bulldogs

Turnarounds:
5 days:
1 game
6 days: 4 games
7+ days: 18 games

Verdict: It shapes as a challenging draw, but not insurmountable. Have missed out having to play Brisbane and Penrith twice but have taken on every bottom team expected to make a surge in 2024, like the Titans and Sea Eagles.

Grade: B

SHARKS

Luck of the draw: Craig Fitzgibbon’s men have the chance to kick-start the season with winnable matches in the opening month against the Bulldogs in round 2, Tigers in round 3 and Raiders in round 4 before heading into the bye the following week.

Overall, Cronulla have a dream draw with 15 matches against sides that failed to make the finals last year including the double against bottom feeders Bulldogs and the Dragons – both who are expected to struggle again in 2024.

Will have the advantage of playing a Brisbane side that is likely to be understrength in round 14, three days after the first State of Origin clash.

Banana peel: Will have two five-day turnarounds in quick succession mid-way through the season, with only five days to prepare for the Eels in round 13 and Dolphins in round 15.

Can’t-miss match: Once a must watch local derby against the Dragons, the fixture has lost its shine in recent years. But with Shane Flanagan, the man who helped Cronulla to an inaugural title, now at the helm at the Dragons, the round 9 encounter against the Red V promises to deliver fireworks.

Byes: 5, 16, 21

Play once: Panthers, Broncos, Storm, Roosters, Eels, Sea Eagles, Knights and Dolphins
Play twice: Tigers, Bulldogs, Dragons, Warriors, Raiders, Rabbitohs, Cowboys and Titans

Turnarounds:
5 days:
2 games
6 days: 3 games
7+ days: 18 games

Verdict: Arguably one of the softest draws, it will leave Fitzgibbon’s men with no excuses in 2024.

Grade: A
 

Vee

First Grade
Messages
5,149

STORM

Luck of the draw: Tough to find too many positives but the Storm have the luxury of taking on Brisbane coming off a long turnaround in the round 4 bye.

Will come off the bye in round 19 to face the Roosters in round 20, which could be missing Origin stars like James Tedesco and Lindsay Collins.

Banana peel: The Storm won’t face a bottom eight side from last year until round 6 when they will host the Bulldogs at home. The Bulldogs shocked Melbourne last year with an unlikely win in round 2. The first month will be a challenge against Penrith, Warriors and Knights before a bye in round four, only to take on the Broncos, the Roosters and the Rabbitohs during the second month of their 2024 campaign.

Coach Craig Bellamy also has to get the job done against every top four side from last year – Brisbane, Warriors and Penrith – twice.

Can’t-miss match: The Storm are round one specialists and have been able to maintain an unbeaten streak in the season opener since 2021. But three-time premiership winners Penrith pose one a huge threat to the Storm’s remarkable record, making the round one blockbuster must see viewing.

Byes: 4, 13, 19

Play once: Sharks, Sea Eagles, Raiders, Cowboys, Wests Tigers, Dragons, Bulldogs and Titans
Play twice: Panthers, Broncos and Warriors, Knights, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Eels and Dolphins

Turnarounds:
5 days:
3 games
6 days: 4 games
7+ days: 16 days

Verdict: If this draw was handed to another side, it would be a poison chalice. It’s still one of the toughest draws in the NRL but Craig Bellamy has the experience to once again defy the odds.

Grade: E

WESTS TIGERS

Luck of the draw: Not the worst start to the season with a Round 1 bye and matches against the Raiders, Sharks, Sea Eagles, Dolphins and Dragons — the latter of whom they play twice in 2024, which could basically be four-point games when it comes to avoiding the wooden spoon. And they only play Penrith, Brisbane Melbourne and the Sydney Roosters once.

Banana peel: When you’re a wooden-spoon team, every game is a challenge. However, Wests’ run home is a shocker. Outside of a Round 26 bye, they face the Knights (A), Rabbitohs (H), Sea Eagles (H) and Eels (H). Even their pre-Origin match-ups come against the Raiders and Sharks, who aren’t prolific providers of Origin talent.

Can’t-miss match: Tigers v Sea Eagles, Round 25, Leichhardt Oval. The return of former favourite son Luke Brooks to Leichhardt, after 11 seasons and 205 games for the club. Brooks hasn’t played a career finals game and it would be ironic if a Tigers victory against the Sea Eagles could cost him that accolade again

Byes: R1, R13, R26

Play once: Panthers, Broncos, Storm, Warriors, Bulldogs, Titans, Roosters and Sea Eagles
Play twice: Knights, Eels, Dolphins, Dragons, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Raiders and Sharks

Turnarounds:
5 days:
3 games
6 days: 6 games
7+ days: 14 games

Verdict: Tough draw. Aside from a tough run home, they face another ticky patch when they are away from Sydney round 9 and don’t play again in the Harbour City until round 14.

Grade: C-
 

Vee

First Grade
Messages
5,149

Biggest 2024 grudge matches revealed in draw as big names, sacked coach face former clubs​

He spent 11 seasons and 205 games playing for the Wests Tigers, but Luke Brooks is going to have to wait until round 25 to face his former side after making the huge call to link up with the Sea Eagles for the next four years.

Brooks spoke last week for the first time in a Manly jersey and said he expected to be booed like so many former Tigers stars at Leichhardt Oval, and he’ll find out just how the faithful feel when the Sea Eagles open the round on August 22.

The showdown between Brooks and the Tigers is just one of several juicy reunions in 2024, with former fan favourite Jack Wighton to return to the nation’s capital to close out round 21.

Wighton won a Clive Churchill Medal and a Dally M with Canberra but has joined the Rabbitohs even though the Raiders were reportedly willing to pay him more than South Sydney for him to stay.

Penrith will seemingly have a grudge match with every team looking to knock off the three-time defending champions, with Brisbane the most eye-catching opponent in round 3 in the grand final rematch.

Panthers fans only have to wait another week when they come up against former wrecking ball Spencer Leniu and his new club the Roosters, while all eyes will be on round 10 when the mountain men host Canterbury.

The Bulldogs have made a habit of poaching some of Penrith’s biggest stars, and 2024 will be no different with Stephen Crichton and Jaeman Salmon joining the likes of Api Koroisau, Matt Burton and Viliame Kikau to have swapped the black jersey for the blue and white.

It’s not just the players who are bracing for potentially mouth-watering meetings, with premiership-winning coach Des Hasler set for a salivating showdown with the Sea Eagles after they sacked him last year.
Hasler can get his revenge at home in round 7 before things heat up in round 20 when the Sea Eagles legend returns to 4 Pines Park for a Sunday afternoon spectacle that will have the fans on the hill torn between club loyalties and supporting a man who did so much for the area.

There’s another premiership-winning coach looking to make a big statement against his former side, with Shane Flanagan heading back to the Shire in round 9 in a tantalising Sunday afternoon local derby.

The man who ended a 50-year premiership drought with the Sharks in 2016 is back coaching with the Dragons after a lengthy exile from the top job, with plenty of pressure on Flanagan to save a Dragons side that has won just one finals match since the 2010 premiership.
 

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