It’s the most wonderful time of year for footy fans, or at least that statement is true for supporters of the eight clubs remaining in the NRL Premiership race.
All the cheques written in the pre-season are about to be cashed, so it’s too late to change your mind if you made any bold declarations about the clubs still in the hunt.
Those are the rules – we didn’t make them up, but that’s just how it goes.
Let’s take a look at the latest NRL futures odds at Sportsbet.com.au – one of Australia’s top online bookmakers.
Roosters surge ahead in NRL Premiership betting
As we sit one week out from the NRL Finals, the Sydney Roosters are the team to beat at a short $2.75.
In the era of the salary cap, winning a third title in a row would be the greatest achievement in the history of the sport.
Dragons fans from the ’50s and ’60s will come from the hills when they read that, but it was much easier to sustain dominance when there were no equalisation measures.
After the resumption, the Chooks looked a million bucks and were blowing teams out of the water until injuries to a number of key players began to set in.
For a period of eight weeks they had several key players missing on any given week and were forced to hand debuts to guys like Freddy Lussick, Max Bailey, Christian Tuipulotu and Daniel Fifita.
Perhaps this year they’ve had their depth tested more than any other season, and if Trent Robinson guides the Tricolours to glory once more, he will move even further into the pantheon of the game’s elite.
Can the Panthers do the double?
In any other season, the Penrith Panthers would be the unbackable favourites to win the premiership.
A run of 14 wins in a row is nothing to sneeze at, but one criticism they’ve had in recent weeks is their so-called ‘soft schedule’.
While they haven’t faced the Roosters since round one, it is important to remember they actually beat them.
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Penrith also beat the Storm in round six and thrashed Parramatta in round 18.
They have been up to every challenge thrown at them, but it won’t stop someone saying, “Well the Roosters win was six months ago, they are a different proposition now.”
That is very true, but at some point we need to put a measure of value and respect on 14 wins in a row. There is currency is knowing how to win and consistently beating whoever is in front of you.
At $3.75, the Panthers are still a good price in the NRL Grand Final betting as the competition is cut in half.
Sill room for movement in NRL top four
It will be interesting to see who finishes fourth and what their first match will be.
Should the Roosters rest everyone against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who can still earn a home final, they risk falling to fourth in the end-of-season standings.
That would significantly increase the possibility of a Panthers vs Roosters grand final, which is an important note for all your NRL quinella bets.
If the Roosters finish third, the latest Sydney and Penrith can meet is the preliminary final, leaving the Melbourne Storm as the heavyweights on the other side of the draw.
Koroisau looms large in Clive Churchill Medal odds
Now is a good time to start looking seriously at this year’s Clive Churchill Medal betting, and we will put forward a compelling argument for Apisai Koroisau.
In both 1991 and 2003, Penrith were minor premiers and went on to win the NRL Grand Final.
The Panthers’ hookers were instrumental in both of those victories, as Luke Priddis produced the greatest performance by a Clive Churchill Medal winner and Royce Simmons scored a double in his farewell from rugby league.
If you believe history will repeat in 2020, the $21 for Koroisau to win the Clive Churchill Medal is a sensational price.
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