This is the second instalment of the series where we run our eye over the nudie run, one of rugby league’s greatest traditions.
For the bottom eight teams the competition still feels very much alive – after all, last place is still only four wins outside the top eight and there are eight games left. So anything is possible, right?
Unfortunately for those on the wrong side of the ladder, recent history is very much stacked against them when it comes to making the finals. And when it comes to not just making the finals – but doing well – the stats are even worse.
In the last five years, at this stage in the competition only four teams who were outside the top eight made it into the finals – one in each year from 2014-17.
The lowest ranked team to climb back into the finals was the North Queensland Cowboys, who were 13th on the ladder at this stage in 2014. The Cowboys also astonishingly made it into fifth place at the end of the regular season, winning seven of their last nine games – the NRL had 26 rounds in 2014 compared to the current 25.
In the last five years none of the teams that managed to make it back into the top eight won more than one game in the finals.
In fact, since the NRL era began, only one team that was outside of the top eight at this stage went on to win the premiership – the Wests Tigers in 2005. The last time a team outside the top eight at this stage made a grand final was in 2011 with the New Zealand Warriors.
Unfortunately for Tigers and Warriors fans, recent history is much less kind to them. From this stage on The Warriors have dropped out of the top eight three times in the last five years – the most of any team. Surely their fans will be hoping it is time for a change of fortunes.
Changes in the NRL ladder after Round 17
2018 – Ladder set after 17 rounds.
2017 – Dragons drop out, Panthers come in. Panthers were four points outside of the eight – in ninth place – and won only one game in the finals.
2016 – Warriors drop out, Titans come in. Titans were two points outside of the eight – in tenth place – and didn’t win a single game in the finals.
2015 – Warriors drop out, Sharks come in. Sharks were two points outside of the eight – in tenth place – and won only one game in the finals.
2014 – Warriors drop out, Cowboys come in. Cowboys were four points outside of the eight – in 13th place – and won only one game in the finals.