2017 NRL Season - Who Wins?

The 2017 season is nearly upon us, and the excitement is building. Which teams had a good off season, which teams are doomed to failure, and most importantly who will come out on top?

The bookies markets for the minor premiership have a few obvious teams up there, and perhaps a few surprises (odds at 17 February)?

So what does TipBetPro predict?

For those that follow TBP you will know that the main determinant of our match predictions is the difference in the players who take to the park for each team………well obviously you say! Well yes, but we believe that the influence of the players selected (or not as the case may be) is understated by the betting markets.

We assign every player a “TBP player rating” which basically measures a player’s influence on the result; the player rating of all 17 players in each team is summed, and the difference between the teams gives us the margin. The predicted margin is also influenced by other factors (i.e. ladder position, team form, location) but player ratings is the most influential factor.

So our method is not best suited to long term predictions, because we don’t know who will play each week yet. Injuries, signings and the “Origin” impact will vary dramatically by each team and clearly influence the final outcomes.

But let’s not such issues get in the way of doing some statistical analysis and having a crack anyway.

Squad analysis

We should say that our player ratings system is heavily influenced by experience and form. As form develops over the season this becomes more of a factor but at the start of the season experience can tend to dominate. This means we have the likes of Thurston, Smith and Gallen as the top 3 ranked players. All superstars and all very “experienced”.

By squads we have the following current rankings:

What does all this mean? Well our old favourites the Sharks have the best squad still (we had them as the best last year too). They have 12 of their starting 17 with over 100 caps and have an entire team of 17 in the top 200 players in the NRL.

So by team what has changed since last year?

Broncos

The Broncos are one of the competitions power houses and last season we certainly had them as one of the main contenders. Their round one team was rated as the third best in the comp last year, albeit nearly a converted try difference behind the Cowboys. By the end of 2016 their form and player ratings had suffered a bit but they managed to stay in touch with the best ranked teams.

So has our opinion changed?

The retirement of Corey Parker is huge, and he was the Bronco’s number one rated player at the end of last year. Wallace to the Titans is also likely to be a loss which will be felt.

The recruitment of David Mead is solid and he provides some quality cover. Benji Marshall is a bit of a surprise recruit although we can see it been a sound one, as he brings experience and nouse. In a winning team he will also be able to show case his undoubted flair too.

Overall it’s probably a weaker Broncos this year, but still a top 4 contender.

Raiders

The Raiders were a bit of a surprise package last year….well for everyone but TBP who had then as premiership roughies, and our 4th highest rank team in round one 2016, a position they continued to enjoy come season end.

Ricky has managed to maintain a similar squad, with Sam Williams and Paul Vaughan missing from the team which finished the season off (albeit as cover). Jordan Turner has 229 super league caps and joins from St Helens, and it will be interesting to see if he adapts to the NRL.

All up not much of a change and surely contenders again.

Bulldogs

We had the Bulldogs in the 8 last year but not by much. Their loss of Curtis Rona is very much the Western Force’s gain (we hope!) and Sam Perrett hanging up the boots leaves a hole too.

They have not really done much in the recruitment market, have shed some deadwood, and overall look, well, uninspiring.

Sharks

The premiers were one of our favoured teams from the off last year and they just continued to climb, finishing the season as the number one ranked team.

But the retirement of Ennis and Ben Barba’s off field issues have punched a couple of holes in their armour. They still retain quality throughout, and in Williams (from Bulldogs), Latimore (Panthers) and Mortimer (Titans) have picked up some experienced players, but nothing which improves the team in our opinion.

Will still be one of the teams to beat and our tip for a punt on the minor!

Titans

One of the surprise packages of 2016 and a TBP favourite team. They started the year outside our top 8, and indeed few could have predicted their rise, or the arrival of the Hayne Plane (which could have actually been a detriment).

They welcome England international Dan Sarginson, Jarrod Wallace from the Broncos and the dependable Kevin Proctor from the Storm, but they have lost a fair bit. Friend, Macdonald, Hoffman, Bird and Mortimer amongst others.

All up, it will no longer be a surprise if they make the 8, indeed quite the reverse.

Sea Eagles

The Sea Eagles started last year outside the 8 and maintained that sort of form, despite winning us some memorable games.

Roll on 2017, and talk about a clear out – geez they were carrying some deadwood and despite the cull, they still are!

We can’t see them challenging.

Storm

It would be fair to say the Storm were better than we thought they’d be at the season start last year. We had them in the 8 and with a decent squad thought they could challenge but they exceeded our expectations and by year end were up there with the best.

They’ve lost a few over the off season, with Koroibete and Green in particular, as well as Proctor to the Titans, acting to weaken the squad in our opinion.

Of course they should get Slater back from injury and Josh Addo-Carr can also provide much excitement.

They will challenge once again.

Knights

Bless them, the Knights tried hard last year and were able to (forced to) play plenty of youngsters which will only be good for the club in the long run.

We had them as the clear spoon contenders in 2016 and not a lot has changed we are sorry to say. That said, a lot of the players have that extra year under their belts and Buhrer and Sio look useful pick ups.

A long season beckons.

Cowboys

They started 2016 as our highest ranked team in round 1, well it was the previous seasons GF team, and whilst the player rankings dropped over the season they still stayed within our top couple of teams.

We always thought they’d be contenders last year albeit their squad depth was an area we had some concerns (as shown when ravaged by Origin).

The loss of Tamou is big and whilst they are still a force to be reckoned with we can’t see them winning this year’s premiership.

Top 8 surely – Top 4 likely.

Eels

Last season saw us tipping Norman and Foran to provide the impetus for an Eels challenge. Then they lost players, points, and a few games, although to be fair they never lost their desire to try, and credit should be given for how they conducted themselves on field. Off field is another matter.

Norman has now left, as has Gordon, and they have replaced the later with Hoffman from the Titans, which all up is potentially a win for the Eels.

A solid if unspectacular team (Bevan the exception – he’s looking pretty spectacular again).

Panthers

The Panthers were a bit of an enigma last year. They certainly performed above expectations with much of it coming from less experienced players. Experience is a major variable in our player ratings and as such we often ranked the Panthers lower than they should have been.

The arrival of Tamou is huge, and the likes on Rein and Oldfield also add something to a squad which is going places.

Are they good enough to win the premiership? For us, not quite, although they will be a threat and should easily make the 8 and maybe even the 4.

Rabbitohs

The Bunnies really didn’t do us proud last year. We consistently thought they were better than they were (well actually no – they consistently were inconsistent).

The arrival of the Rob’s (Farah and Rochow) should hopefully lead to a bit more consistency, especially in defense. One less Burgess may also be an advantage.

Can’t see them returning to the top end of the table.

Dragons

Whilst we consistently underrated the Panthers due to their relative lack of experience, we did the opposite with the Dragons! Ranking them 6th best team in round 1 2016! Yes we know….

They have finally shed some of the experience, with Benji, Rein and Cooper leaving and Creagh retiring.

The players coming in look ok, with Vaughan in particular looking like a handy pick-up.

However, we can’t see them challenging for the 8, and a long season is in store for the Dragon fans.

Roosters

Round 1 2016 saw a rather depleted Roosters take to the field, with the Pearce dog shagging scandal still causing a whiff around the club. As their stars returned over the season their player ratings improved and the discovery of Mitchell as a genuine match winner had the Roosters fans looking forward to 2017.

The arrival of Gordon will keep Mitchell honest and no doubt help him develop.

We can’t see them returning to the top 4 again for a while but could be around the 8. Just.

Warriors

Round one 2016 had TBP, and others, talking about the Warriors making the 4 and being genuine challengers. In Roger Tuivasa-Sheck they had our number one rated player and things looked rosy.

And we all know what happened. The coach was always a question mark and this change has now been made along with the one signing of Kieran Foran! Genius move or more problems for a squad which has it all?

Time will tell, but surely they have to make the 8 and should be aiming higher. Much higher.

Tigers

Last season’s bolters in terms of TBP ratings. We had them in front of the Knights in round 1 last year and that was it. We are glad we were wrong as they were one of our favourite teams, with value bets a plenty.

Last season saw them push out Farah, which at the time seemed questionable. They have shed a few players and lost the influential Halatau to retirement. Recruitment has been modest, very, and they will rely heavily on their stars once again.

A top 8 finish would be a major achievement.


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