Troy Dodds delivers his fearless NRL predictions for 2024

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I admit to feeling the pressure writing this column after a handful of my rather ‘out there’ predictions actually came true in 2023. But here we go, my fearless predictions for the NRL season ahead…

The Roosters miss the Finals

The Sydney Roosters may be on the third line of Premiership betting, but I’m calling it – they won’t make the Finals this year.

Call me crazy all you like, just like those who wanted me locked up for suggesting the Eels and Rabbitohs wouldn’t make the eight last year did.
I’ve got concerns over an ageing James Tedesco (who had a really poor year in 2023) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who I feel probably is going on a year too long.

I feel this is a bit of a gap year for the Roosters ahead of a new chapter in 2025, and I’ve got Trent Robinson’s side missing out.

Pressure mounts on Brad Arthur

If there’s a coach given his marching orders in 2024, I’m of the belief it’ll be Parramatta’s Brad Arthur.

The Eels missed the Finals last year and have only added Kelma Tuilagi and Morgan Harper to their roster.

It’s possible the Eels thought 2023 would come easy after making the 2022 Grand Final so we could see a resurgence, but I’m far from convinced.

If the Eels are on track to miss the Finals, don’t be surprised if Arthur is under enormous pressure to keep his job, despite having a contract until the end of 2025.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur. Photo: Megan Dunn

Panthers make the top four

Despite the losses of Stephen Crichton and Spencer Leniu, I’m confident Penrith continue to march on in 2024.

You’ve still got Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Dylan Edwards and Isaah Yeo as the backbone; and some pretty solid depth.

I’m not going as far as to say the Panthers win the Minor Premiership again or even that they do produce a fourth straight NRL title, but I’m confident they’ll give themselves a shot by making the top four.

The Blues sweep Origin

Under new coach Michael Maguire I’m tipping New South Wales surge back to State of Origin supremacy and win the series 3-0.

Maguire may also usher in a new era in terms of the playing squad with nobody safe and form to rule the selection process.

The Blues were horrible last year, but did lay the platform for a bright future with an impressive win in Origin III.

Also working in New South Wales’ favour, the opening game of the series is in Sydney and the second is at the MCG. There’s no daunting trip to Suncorp Stadium until the third game.

By then, I’m tipping the Blues have got the job done.

New Blues coach Michael Maguire. Photo: NRL Photos.

Dolphins get the spoon

St George-Illawarra is widely tipped to get the wooden spoon this year but I actually think they’ll have a better season than many expect.

I just can’t see side with Ben Hunt leading it around that finishes last. He seems to be fairly settled now despite asking for a release last year.
Shane Flanagan will also bring a tougher edge to the side in his first year as coach.

After a debut season that surprised many last year, I actually think the Dolphins will struggle most this season and will claim the dreaded wooden spoon.

There’s just too much distraction at the club, especially with Wayne Bennett in his final year as head coach.

Plus the euphoria of “firsts” is done now and the reality of the week-to-week struggle of the competition will set in.

Herbie Farnworth and Thomas Flegler are excellent additions to their team, but I’ve got the Dolphins as the bottom feeders of the 2024 competition.

Vegas gives NRL cold feet

I’m predicting that once the dust settles on the Las Vegas games, there will be some cold feet about continuing the concept in the years ahead and concerns from clubs about being involved.

The NRL is determined to push ahead with a long-term strategy and there’s no doubt the lucrative US gambling market is a key component to the plans.

But once the novelty of this coming weekend wears off, you wonder if it’ll still have the same glitz about it in 2025 and beyond.

The launch of the season feels a little disjointed with the first games of the year being on Sunday. It robs a bit of the excitement around the start of the year.

The NRL may well be in Las Vegas again in 2025, but all smooth sailing? I highly doubt it.

Titans make the eight under Des

Des Hasler’s appointment as Gold Coast coach was one of the surprises of last year, but the off-season has been pretty quiet in terms of expectation and publicity.

In the background, Hasler would have been working through his ways to give the Titans a tougher edge and ensure they’re the real deal in 2024.

The concern is definitely how quiet they’ve been in the player market, but if Hasler can tighten up the side’s often leaky defence, I’m confident he can build some strong momentum this season.

You heard it here first: The Titans will play Finals football in 2024.

Gold Coast coach Des Hasler. Photo: NRL Photos.

Predicted top eight

Brisbane, Warriors, Penrith, Souths, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Manly, Newcastle.

Troy Dodds

Troy Dodds is the Weekender's Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia's leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.

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