Pre Season Competition

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Captain Moondog

Absolute Superstar
The NRL is set to launch its highly anticipated pre-season trials competition that rewards attacking teams and includes a bizarre way it could be forced to determine a winner.
Brent Read

The Daily Telegraph has obtained details of next month’s 2023 Pre-Season Challenge, which were sent to clubs on Wednesday.

The anticipated trial games will feature Anthony Seibold’s first outing as Manly coach, include a grand final rematch and club debuts of a host of superstars.

In a move to excite audiences, the NRL has placed an emphasis on attacking play. Teams will be rewarded for taking risks, with bonus points available for innovative football around scoring tries, linebreaks and offloads.

Anthony Seibold will coach his first game against South Sydney in the pre-season challenge. Picture: Jeremy Piper

Anthony Seibold will coach his first game against South Sydney in the pre-season challenge. Picture: Jeremy Piper
The competition will involve all 17 NRL teams plus Super League champions St Helens, who will fly to Australia next month to take part in the World Club Challenge against NRL premiers Penrith.

That fixture will form part of the pre-season challenge, which all participating teams are eligible to win.
But that’s where things get even more interesting.

Under the rules of the competition, teams will get 12 points for a win and six for a draw.

However, teams can earn up to three bonus points if they score five or more tries, make five or more linebreaks or 10 or more offloads.

The overall winner will be the team with the most points.
When: February 9-12 and February 17-19
Prizemoney: $100,000 winner takes all
Teams: All 17 NRL clubs, plus Super League champions St Helens
TV: All games live and exclusive on Fox League
  • 80-minute games
  • No extra time or golden point. A draw will be declared it scores are equal
  • Squad sizes: As many as 28 players for week-one matches and 26 for week-two matches
  • Unlimited interchange
*World Club Challenge will have 17-man squads with an 18th player for concussion protocols, and 10 interchanges
  • One referee
  • Bunker in use
Competition points
  • 12 for a win
  • Six for a draw
  • None for a loss
A bonus point available for each of the following:
  • Scoring five or more tries
  • Making five or more linebreaks
  • Making 10 or more offloads
Teams can earn a maximmum 15 points for a win, nine for a draw and three for a loss.
The overall winner will be determined by the most competition points.
  • For and against (points differential), then if still equal;
  • The greater percentage of points scored in for and against, then if still equal;
  • Most tries scored, then if still equal;
  • Most goals kicked, then if still equal;
  • Most drop goals kicked, then if still equal;
  • Least amount of penalties conceded across both games ,then if still equal;
  • The toss of a coin
Round One
Thursday, February 9
Warriors v Tigers Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland 6pm
Friday, February 10
Knights v Sharks Industree Group Stadium, Gosford 5.55pm
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles Industree Group Stadium, Gosford 8pm
Saturday, February 11
Eels v Panthers BlueBet Stadium, Penrith 6pm
Dragons v St Helens WIN Stadium, Wollongong 8.05pm
Sunday, February 12
Storm v Roosters GMHBA Stadium, Geelong 1.50pm
Raiders v Bulldogs Ack Weyman Oval, Moruya 3.55pm
Cowboys v Dolphins Barlow Park, Cairns 8.05pm
Broncos v Titans Sunshine Coast Stadium 8.05pm
Round Two
Friday, February 17
Knights v Eels Industree Group Stadium, Gosford 5.55pm
Roosters v Sea Eagles Industree Group Stadium, Gosford 8pm
Saturday, February 18
Dragons v Rabbitohs Glen Willow Stadium, Mudgee 3.30pm
Panthers v St Helens BlueBet Stadium, Penrith 6pm
Broncos v Cowboys Sunshine Coast Stadium 8.10pm
Sunday, February 19
Warriors v Storm Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch 12.50pm
Tigers v Raiders Belmore Sportsground 2.55pm
Bulldogs v Sharks Belmore Sportsground 5pm
Dolphins v Titans Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe 7.05pm

In the event of a draw, the NRL has outlined a series of tiebreakers to determine who takes home the $100,000 winner’s cheque.

For and against will be used to separate teams, and if they’re still equal, it will then be decided by who has the greater percentage of points scored, most tries scored, most goals kicked, most drop-goals kicked and then least number of penalties conceded.

If they still can’t be separated, it will come down to heads or tails.

The pre-season competition will mark Cameron Ciraldo’s first game as an NRL head coach, when Canterbury travel to Moruya on the NSW south coast to take on the Canberra Raiders.

It will also feature Seibold’s return to the NRL as Manly coach and an appetising clash with his former side, South Sydney, in Gosford.

Newcastle-bound Shark Lachlan Miller could face Cronulla if his release to the Knights goes through before then.
While grand finalists Penrith and Parramatta will face off in the first week of trials.

New Sydney Roosters signing Brandon Smith could make his club debut against former club Melbourne on February 12, a date which will also feature expansion side the Dolphins’ first competitive game, against Queensland rivals the Cowboys in Cairns


Reserve Grader
We won’t be winning it, not a friendly draw for us.
But realistically it’s still trial matches so how many teams will field full strength squads for the whole 80 minutes.
Well the good news is that we get a clue nice and early in the season where we are at with the new look coaching team and the new look team. Lots of promising young guns in there so hopefully they be given an opportunity to show their wares in top company. Looking forward to both games.


First Grader
Premium Member
I've seen plenty elsewhere getting really worked up about this and I dont get it.

Every club generally plays 2 pre season games....that remains the same.

Clubs wont alter how they approach the games so the risk of injury doesnt increase.

The NRL has just thrown some pocket change at trying to give extra interest to the games......meh, I'm fine with it

The Who

Journey Man
I think it's a welcomed initiative. At least there is something now attached to playing well in the pre-season. Previously, pre-season matches were only of interest regarding injuries to key players.


First Grader
Premium Member
The best thing I like about it is that it will be televised on Fox.
The winner could easily be wooden spooners in the NRL comp and no teams will do anything different for this payout.
WHY though do you get so many points ?
12 to Win....and bonus point for 5 linebreaks and 10 a trial likely to have these stats by half time !!

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