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Opinion

Revisiting my five fearless predictions for the 2021 NRL season

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Expert
5th October, 2021
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2629 Reads

“What goes up, must come down.”

I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet Sir Isaac Newton, but I think he played in the centres for the Newcastle Knights in the ’80s or something.

He must have been a pretty good player to be Knighted, but anyway, one paragraph in, and I’m already way off topic.

The point is that Newton knew what he was talking about: you can’t stay up forever, despite what the makers of Viagra may want you to believe.

After years of having a brilliant strike rate on my fearless predictions – I believe I got 17 out of 15 right at one stage, which is as mathematically impossible as it is impressive – things have come thundering back to earth this season.

C’est la vie!

(The apt French saying, not the banging track by B*Witched.)

Alright, let’s just rip this off like a Band-Aid and receive the deserved ridicule from the Roarers. I’m ready for it, and most of it will be warranted…

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY ORIGINAL PREDICTIONS PIECE

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1. Penrith win the minor premiership, make the grand final, and… lose again
This is about as close as you can get to a correct prediction, without actually getting it correct. However, we don’t hand out points for ‘close’ around here. Well, we do, to be honest, but not this time.

The Panthers finished on equal points with the Melbourne Storm at the top of the ladder, but points differential – and a fair difference at that – relegated them to second spot. Then they went on to win the grand final over the South Sydney Rabbitohs by a mere two points.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Close, but no cigar, O’Connell. Or correct prediction either, you battler.

2. Jack Wighton goes back-to-back and wins the Dally M Medal… again
Holy hell, this might be the worst prediction I’ve ever made.

I can’t even find Wighton’s name on any of the Dally M leaderboards, so far off the pace was he.

I thought the Raider would back-up his (somewhat surprise) Dally M-winning season with an even better year, but much like Canberra, he never really got going in 2021.

This is such a bad prediction, I feel like giving myself a minus-2 for it.

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I won’t, but let’s just move along swiftly.

3. Queensland win State of Origin… again
NSW’s loss in 2020 was one of the worst I’ve seen, and trust me, there’s a lot of competition for that ‘accolade’. It was the quintessential Queensland win: they were smarter, tougher and tried harder than the Blues, even though the talent gulf between the teams – on paper – was as vast as we’ve seen in Origin.

The Blues were a combination of complacent and clueless, and the embarrassing loss ensured that – for the first time in my life – I actually started to believe the Queensland rhetoric that they have more passion, and ‘get’ Origin more than NSW.

As such I wasn’t very confident of a Blues win in 2021, because Queensland would also have a return of talent, after the injury-depleted team they had to field in 2020.

Thankfully, I was wrong. The scoreboards in Game 1 and 2 were a fair reflection of the difference between the two sides, and I’ve rarely been happier to get a prediction incorrect, because it meant all the Queensland BS I was starting to swallow was just that: BS.

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4. The Bulldogs miss out on the finals… again, but in the last round of the season
Well, technically, this prediction is right.

The Bulldogs did miss out on the finals. And given the Delta variant of COVID was ravaging Australia, there’s every chance some teams may have had to pull out of the finals series if their players contacted the disease, and therefore teams below them on the ladder would have been promoted into the top eight. So, the Dogs were technically alive until the last round of the season.

What? What are you looking at me like that for?

Jake Averillo passes the ball

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

I’m right. Correct prediction. One point. Leave me alone.

5. The Wests Tigers ‘win’ the wooden spoon
The Bulldogs won the wooden spoon, and won it decisively. You never want to leave a season without something for the trophy cabinet, so congratulations Doggies!

I’m not going to make the case that the Tigers were the real wooden spooners; that’s too stupid, even for me. Yet did any team finish the season ‘lower’ than the Tigers?

They lost 38-0 to the Dogs in the last round, one of only three wins for Canterbury for the season. They missed out on the finals, again. The threatened to fire their coach, again. Their recruitment was lambasted, again. They were labelled the “worst run club in the competition”, again.

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Look, it doesn’t make my prediction right. However, it does make me feel better. And that’s all that really matters here.

Summary
One out of five. And even the one is dodgier than a Cameron Munster kick-on session.

Thankfully, I somewhat redeemed myself with my predicted ladder finish below. Where the teams actually finished is in parentheses, and the only real shockers are Manly and the Bulldogs.

Bonus prediction – the ladder
1. Panthers (2nd)
2. Storm (1st)
3. Rabbitohs (3rd)
4. Roosters (5th)
5. Raiders (10th)
6. Knights (7th)
7. Eels (6th)
8. Titans (8th)

9. Bulldogs (16th)
10. Sharks (9th)
11. Broncos (14th)
12. Sea Eagles (4th)
13. Warriors (12th)
14. Cowboys (15th)
15. Dragons (11th)
16. Tigers (13th)

Enjoy the off-season, guys, and remember, put the phones away!

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