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NRL 2022 ladder prediction: 6-5

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Roar Guru
5th March, 2022
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The NRL is now only a small number of sleeps away and everything around the league is heating up, including my ladder prediction as we are now nearing the top four.

6. Parramatta Eels

The Parramatta Eels begin another year knowing that they hold the current longest premiership drought. A usual trend occurred in the first half of last year’s season as the Eels held a record of 12-3 after Round 15.

The Eels more than often seem like a team that shows lot of promise for parts of the season, however, fall off the rails in the long run. They commonly look like they just lose their spark and their mentality switches towards the end of the season – and I don’t mean that in a good way.

They start to play scrappy footy and not free-flowing side-to side football, which is what they’re best at. The blue and gold men showed a version of this in 2021 as after looking like a top-class team, they had a period where they lost five of seven games.

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Three of these losses had differences of at least 28 points. Despite that end phase, they had an alright finals series as they were two points short of progressing to the prelims.

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The Eels have some slight changes to their side as Blake Ferguson and Michael Oldfield were released, Keegan Hipgrave retired, and Will Smith has found a new home on the Gold Coast.

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Mitch Rein has been snagged from the Titans, however, he looks to be nowhere in the likely Round 1 line-up. The only recruited player who seems to be in Brad Arthur’s probable starting team is winger Bailey Simonsson.

I believe that the Eels will once again look hot in periods, however, they’ll end up in a spot that’s near the cusp of the finals.

5. Cronulla Sharks

The Sharks’ points differential stood in the way of them playing finals footy in 2021 as the eighth-placed Titans got the better of them in that department.

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The problem for the Sharks last season was not in attack discipline, rather it was the discipline on defence as they held the title for highest total missed tackles in the league.

The Cronulla Sharks will be one of the most exciting teams to watch in 2022. They have a re-shaped team, and the new additions will mean so much to how this team performs and their results.

Matt Ikuvalu of the Roosters looks on during the round 12 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders at Central Coast Stadium, on May 29, 2021, in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Cronulla have signed some big names, including Nicho Hynes, Cameron McInnes, Dale Finucane, and Matt Ikuvalu. I am most excited to see how Hynes performs in the halfback role alongside Matt Moylan as that’s a very interesting combination. If it works it could be very deadly.

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Plus having Will Kennedy playing fullback, who I think is one of the more underrated players in the competition. Kennedy can turn it on, and he is a superb game manager.

The addition of McInnes will be quality as they will have his strength and toughness in the 9 jersey, plus Blayke Brailey to come off the bench in the utility role.

Cameron will also be a great help to the Sharkies’ defence ,who were ranked second-last in 2021.

To add to this, Cronulla have a great forward pack and Dale Finucane will be a further upgrade to the forward group.

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I think that Cronulla will surprise a lot of people this season and I believe that they are a dark horse to make the top four.

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