On Thursday, Harry Ramage ran his eye over the bottom four teams of the 2021 NRL season, and predicted how they will fare in 2022. Today I’m charged with Part 2 of the four-part series that we’ll pick up early next week.
You may have noticed some of your friends and colleagues starting to get on one of the following NRL trains, and people who were on a different locomotive in the pre-season are now switching trains.
Platform 1: St George Illawarra Dragons line, departing on time
Relax everyone, sometimes things just work. Haven’t they made it look effortlessPlatform 2: New Zealand Warriors line, could leave anytime
Blake Green and the meditative breathing exercise focussed side are surprising everyone. Can it continue down a pathway of structure and settled football that rolls relentlessly over the top of whatever weak point they sense in their opponent? It feels dangerous. But I hope so.
Buy a ticket, buy some chips, buy a Warriors jumper. Breathe in and out. Breathe in and out. Now run to Platform 2 and get on this train. If it derails, no refunds.
Platform 3: Penrith Panthers line, get onboard if you can
It was a Nathan Cleary-based platform, but here is James Maloney – a bargain, a great footballer, and hard to bet against. There is also growth and some devastation that can burst out anytime.
They can build a compelling underdog narrative, especially as they start to come up against these big sides who are underperforming currently, who everyone says have to start winning sometime, right? Keep telling yourself that, but it just might not be against the Panthers.
Liking Phil Gould is not a pre-requisite, so please get on the Penrith train in an orderly fashion and try not to swear too much once you’re onboard.
Platform 4: Wests Tigers line, Toot toot! All aboard!
It’s Benji Marshall’s ‘Redemption Express’. It feels like 1969, or 2005 on Platform 4. As long as it’s not feeling like 1988 or 1989, I’m getting on this train.
This is the best ride for battlers, so grab a singlet and start practicing your air boxing. The ‘little three’ who left the ‘big four’ will be very sad if it means missing out on a premiership.
You might notice some of the other trains have residual benefit from Ivan Cleary, but this train has him now. The opposite of a Fat Controller, Cleary has got this side working together and that isn’t happening for the underperformers – they don’t feel cohesive, while the Tigers do.
My recommendation to get the most out of this season is to get on a train now, because no one likes people who jump on bandwagons.