NRL Ladder Prediction - Predicting the ladder for the 2018 NRL season

Andrew Hendrie 2 Mar 2018
  • NRL 2018 predictions
  • Where will each club finish?
North Queensland and Melbourne are set to be among the leading contenders for the 2018 NRL premiership

It promises to be another thrilling NRL season in 2018, and in the countdown to kick off next week, we’ve predicted how the ladder will turn out at the end of 25 rounds!

The way I see it, there’s three teams that are clear standouts ahead of the season launch - and that’s the Melbourne Storm, North Queensland Cowboys and Sydney Roosters.

Reigning premiers Melbourne are attempting to become the first side in over 25 years to go back-to-back, and despite the loss of Cooper Cronk, they have a fantastic chance of pulling it off. The Roosters ran second in the minor premiership last season and have recruited superbly, bringing in Cronk and James Tedesco. They will only get stronger. North Queensland meanwhile welcome back Johnathan Thurston from injury, and with the superstar halfback missing Origin this campaign, the Cowboys will surely be among the leading contenders all season long.

I think Parramatta Eels will continue to improve and put themselves in a position to challenge for the top four. Semi Radradra is a big loss, but with Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman and Jarryd Hayne all working together in the same backline, they have potential to be electrifying. Cronulla Sharks will also remain in the conversation. Their forward pack is among the best in the competition, and although they’ve lost key playmakers in James Maloney and Jack Bird, they have brought in the likes of Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan and Trent Hodkinson. They’ll be alright for a top eight spot again.

I’m loving Maloney’s move to the Penrith Panthers - the mountain men are one of those young sides that will continue to develop, and after a tough start to the season last year, they should be better equipped for a more consistent campaign in 2018.

Out of the top eight teams from last season, I see the Brisbane Broncos and Manly Sea Eagles dropping out. I think the loss of Ben Hunt for the Broncos will be bigger than they perhaps thought when they sold him - neither Anthony Milford or Jack Bird is a halfback, meaning they will rely on Kodi Nikorima for direction. I’m backing the Broncos to go backwards, while Manly were very hot-and-cold in 2017 and I just don’t see them matching some of the other more solid sides in the competition in 2018.

So who will replace them in the eight? For me, there’s three sides in contention for those two spots - and they are the Canterbury Bulldogs, Canberra Raiders and Newcastle Knights. I love Dean Pay as a coach and he will bring the old ‘Dogs of War’ back to Belmore. Moses Mbye moving back to fullback is a great move, and if he’s in the right frame of mind, Kieran Foran is the playmaker the Bulldogs have been craving for over a decade. With a fearsome forward pack still intact, led by new recruit Aaron Woods, I think Canterbury are in line for a swift return to finals football.

With the acquisition of Mitchell Pearce, I certainly think the Knights will haul themselves off the bottom of the ladder. They will surprise a lot of teams in 2018, but finals might be a step too far. Canberra meanwhile lost a lot of close games last season, and on their day, they are one of the most lethal teams in the competition. They just need a bit more discipline and luck on their side and I think they’ll be finishing in the eight.

It’ll likely be another tough season for the likes of Gold Coast Titans, Wests Tigers and the woefully inconsistent New Zealand Warriors, while I don’t see much spark surrounding South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons - although Hunt and James Graham arriving at the latter is encouraging. I’ll back the Titans to pick up the wooden spoon - unless Ash Taylor steps up and delivers on his huge potential.

NRL 2018 Ladder Prediction

1. North Queensland Cowboys
2. Sydney Roosters
3. Melbourne Storm
4. Cronulla Sharks
5. Parramatta Eels
6. Penrith Panthers
7. Canberra Raiders
8. Canterbury Bulldogs
9. Brisbane Broncos
10. Newcastle Knights
11. St George Illawarra Dragons
12. Manly Sea Eagles
13. South Sydney Rabbitohs
14. New Zealand Warriors
15. Wests Tigers
16. Gold Coast Titans

NRL 2018 premiership market (current odds: Neds)

Sydney Roosters $5.00, North Queensland Cowboys $5.50, Melbourne Storm $6.50, Brisbane Broncos $11, Parramatta Eels $11, Cronulla Sharks $13, Penrith Panthers $13, St George Illawarra Dragons $17, South Sydney Rabbitohs $17, Canberra Raiders $21, Newcastle Knights $26, Manly Sea Eagles $26, Canterbury Bulldogs $34, New Zealand Warriors $41, Wests Tigers $67, Gold Coast Titans $81

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NRL Ladder Prediction - Predicting the ladder for the 2018 NRL season

It promises to be another thrilling NRL season in 2018, and in the countdown to kick off next week, we’ve predicted how the ladder will turn out at the end of 25 rounds!

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