Seibolds Mid Season Report card

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BOZO

Journey Man
Tipping Member

Mid-season NRL report card: Every team graded in depth as three sides get an ‘A’​


Some have excelled beyond expectations, others have performed as expected, others have struggled while some have failed entirely.
Here foxsports.com.au runs through our mid-season report card, grading each team based on their performance over the first half of the 2024 season.
Note: Part 1 runs through the report card for the NRL’s top 8 sides, with teams 9-17 to follow. Also, the ladder position listed is as of the beginning of Round 15.
MELBOURNE STORM

Ladder:
1st

Grade: A

Season so far: The Storm have somewhat flown under the radar this season, but still manage to be a consistent force under Craig Bellamy. Jahrome Hughes has been on fire, while the return of Ryan Papenhuyzen has been a huge bonus, albeit he has been sidelined recently due to an ankle issue. Elsewhere, Eli Katoa has been strong in the backrow. What’s more is the Storm could have avoided almost all three of their losses so far this season. They went down to the Knights, Sea Eagles and Sharks in games that were all decided by less than eight points. As it stands, the Storm once again loom as a premiership threat and will be desperate to welcome back Cameron Munster at the back-end of the season.

Biggest issue: The Storm’s middle forwards still do lack punch, and their depth has been tested at times this season with Nelson Asofa-Solomona missing the start of the season. Josh King, Tui Kamikamica, Christian Welch and Trent Loeiro have all been solid, however they could do with reinforcements in case of injuries, like that to Asofa-Solomona.


Standout player: Jahrome Hughes. The Storm playmaker has been simply excellent so far this season and has cemented himself among the game’s elite halfbacks. It’s not just his ability to put the Melbourne outfit in strong positions with his kicking game, his running game has been electric too. He has the 10th most kicking metres, four tries, nine try assists and has recorded all of that in only nine games. The Kiwi international also has the 32nd most line breaks, while wearing the No.7 jersey, a position traditionally know for putting their teammates in a position to break through the line. Speaking of line break assists, Hughes also has nine, the 19th most of any player to go with 20 total try involvements. An impressive output for a player who has been without star five-eighth Cameron Munster, who has been his right-hand man in seasons gone by. A special mention also goes to Tyran Wishart who has been impressive in the halves this season since taking over from Munster following his Magic Round groin injury.

Who needs to lift: Their middles. As mentioned above, the Storm’s middle men have failed to dominate games and overpower their opponents on multiple occasions. So much so, the Fox Sports Lab has the Storm running for the 14th most metres this season. The fact they’re first under such circumstances is remarkable. As the old rugby league adage goes, the forwards decide who wins, the backs decides how much. Melbourne’s middle men need to lift and give their all-star spine every chance of guiding them to victories over the back half of the season.
CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS

Ladder:
2nd

Grade: A-

Season so far: The Sharks went on a barnstorming winning streak, and it looked like Craig Fitzgibbon’s side were proving they were true premiership contenders. They beat the Roosters, Cowboys, Storm and Raiders during their seven-game run, but it all came crashing down against the Panthers in Round 12. They went down 42-0 in a game that proves to be a huge wake-up call for the Sharks, proving they need to improve should they want to compete for a title. But they couldn’t muster a response against the Eels in Round 13, albeit without Cameron McInnes and Nicho Hynes, two of their most important players. So after leading the competition for several weeks, Fitzgibbon has been forced to go back to the drawing board and plot a way to beat the elite teams in the NRL.

Biggest issue: Performances against the top sides. Craig Fitzgibbon’s Cronulla have been consistently been plagued by one major Achilles heel in recent years: their performances against top eight sides. This season has been no different. For every 25-18 win over Melbourne there is a 42-0 loss to Penrith. Everyone knows Cronulla are talented enough and gritty enough to beat the NRL’s elite sides, they just have to show it on a consistent basis.

Standout player: Nicho Hynes has been excellent so far this season and rightfully earnt himself a spot in the NSW line-up in the No.7 jersey. But another representative star has led the way for Cronulla in Cameron McInnes. In the No.13 jersey, the former Dragons hooker has been immense and epitomises exactly what Fitzgibbon wants from his players, delivering pure grit and toughness each time he steps on the field. McInnes has made the 13th most tackles so far in 2024 and consistently ends games with cuts and bruises. The 30-year-old has also delivered three 80-minute performances at lock and hooker this year, proving he’s a versatile forward. The fact he can play at dummy-half and in the halves at a push played a significant part in his Blues selection under Michael Maguire.


Who needs to lift: Will Kennedy. The Sharks fullback has been unusually quiet so far this season, having only tallied three line breaks. That’s two less than prop Tom Hazelton, while he’s also only scored three tries in his 12 appearances.
PENRITH PANTHERS

Ladder:
3rd


Grade: A-

Season so far: The Panthers are once again one of the NRL’s most dominant forces, but with several injuries to key players, including Nathan Cleary, Ivan Cleary’s men’s campaign hasn’t been without hiccups. They’ve won eight of their 12 games and currently sit in third, however they’ve lost some games they’d be considered heavy favourites in. Their loss to the Warriors, without a whole host of their best players, at Magic Round came as a massive shock, while they also went down to the Dragons during Round 13. However, if there’s one thing rugby league fans have learnt over the past few seasons, it’s to never doubt this Panthers outfit and they will almost definitely be humming come finals time.

Biggest issue: Nathan Cleary’s fitness. The superstar No.7 is absolutely pivotal to Penrith’s title charge and he has been sidelined for a lengthy period so far this season, only featuring in five games so far this season. He first suffered his injury in Round 3 against the Broncos, and returning in Round 8 before being rested in Round 9 and re-injuring it in Round 10 on the stroke of halftime against the Bulldogs. Between now and the finals, Panthers medicos will be doing everything they can to make sure he is fit and firing. They need to reduce the risk of flaring up the hamstring to zero before he returns to the field, otherwise they risk him sitting out of the entire finals period. While Jarome Luai’s been strong filling in at halfback, Jack Cole is untried in finals football and Cleary’s experience will be vital to lifting a fourth-straight premiership trophy.



Standout player: Dylan Edwards. If it hadn’t been for a shock quad injury, the gun fullback was set to make his Origin debut for the Blues in the 2024 series opener. He’s been in such fine form, the 28-year-old beat out incumbent fullback and captain James Tedesco to wear the No.1 and his tireless and consistent performers didn’t go unnoticed. Across his 11 appearances he’s broken the third most tackles of any player, while also tallying the most running metres with a staggering 2229. He’s also got the 16th most linebreaks and the ninth most points, putting together one of rugby league’s most complete seasons for the Panthers. When voting went behind closed doors for the Dally M Medal after Round 12, Edwards was also sitting atop the leaderboard with 31 points, being trailed by Nicho Hynes on 30 and Daly Cherry-Evans on 27. Meanwhile, Isaah Yeo has also been consistently impressive and earnt himself 24 Dally M votes to sit in fourth.

Who needs to lift: Penrith’s bench forwards. While it’s a tough task to follow suit after James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota lay down the gauntlet to their opposition as the NRL’s best front row pairing, Ivan Cleary’s bench forwards need to stand up to fill the void left by Spencer Leniu. He joined the Roosters this season, and would consistently make a dent in defensive lines, and the Panthers have been missing his go-forward while one of Fisher-Harris or Leota are sidelined. Liam Henry, Lindsay Smith and Matt Eisenhuth have all been solid, but one of these men need to run the ball with vigour that matches that of Leniu to keen their opponents on the backfoot.
DOLPHINS

Ladder:
4th

Grade: B+

Season so far: Getting to mid-season inside the top four must undoubtedly have the fan base feeling satisfied and optimistic. The Phins’ one-point loss to the Raiders in Round 13, deep into golden point, was the first time the club has lost two straight, with the bye coming at a good time. At eight wins and five losses so far, the Redcliffe side has avoided any alarming flat patches that have lingered multiple weeks. Their 66+ points differential, from all 13 matches combined, paints the picture well – that’s sixth-best in the competition. Unsurpringly, Wayne Bennett’s side is playing a consistent brand of footy and they’re hard to put away.

Biggest issue: Prior to Thursday’s win over the Sharks, the Dolphins had only beaten one team in the top eight this season. Two of their seven wins were the embattled Tigers and their other wins were the Dragons, Titans, Eels and Cowboys. Their premiership credentials will continue being queried until they pick up a win or two against a needle-moving side. For a side formed so recently, combining so many spare parts and re-treads, it’s impressive they’re in the mix. But are they a genuine title threat? It’s hard to form that conclusion based on results so far.

Standout player: Isaiya Katoa. He’s been the starting halfback in all seven of the Dolphins wins this season. Katoa extended his contract in March through to the end of 2028, and proceeded to take another step forward – a sign the former Panther is showing maturity and composure well beyond his years as a 20-year-old. Hooker Jeremy Marshall-King could’ve also claimed this honour, having been a steadying presence around the ruck. The pair continue to build an enviable hooker-half combination that holds the side in good stead moving forward.


Who needs to lift: Kristian Woolf. The Dolphins embarked on a succession plan from the word go, but as we’ve just seen with Souths, they don’t always work. Wayne Bennett will return to the Rabbitohs next year, clearing the stage for Assistant Coach Kristian Woolf. He’ll need to overcome a ‘curse’ of sorts as well, given the challenge that coaches face taking over from the master. If this first 12-game sample has taught us anything, the Phins roster is capable of competing for silverware – is the coach-in-waiting timing his run, and rising responsibilities, accordingly?

Canberra Raiders
Ladder: 5th

Grade: B+

Season so far: Canberra entered 2024 with lowered expectations. For the first time in a decade they would be without South Sydney-bound Jack Wighton and the retired Jarrod Croker. After creeping into the top eight last season, many expected Canberra to fall back a little bit this season. Yet, they haven’t. Canberra have been largely excellent so far in 2024, winning seven and losing five - with two byes. As has been the case in recent years, the Raiders have mastered the grind. They may now blow teams away, but they’ll almost always remain in the fight, sometimes pulling wins out of nowhere - as was the case against the Bulldogs in Magic Round. Even more impressive is the adversity the Raiders have dealt with this year, notably losing influential halfback to a bicep injury after seven rounds, while veteran Jordan Rapana also spent a brief spell on the sidelines. Yet this hasn’t seemed to phase a youthful Canberra outfit, who’ve found ways to consistently keep themselves within touching distance of victory - and often winning.




Biggest issue: Performances against top sides. In six games against sides in last year’s top eight, Canberra have won just once - against Newcastle in Round 1. The remaining five games have all been losses, with Canberra losing by an average margin of 22.8 points.

The worst of these performances came in Round 8 against Cronulla, when the Sharks beat the Raiders 40-0. It was a limp performance which showcased this Raiders side’s floor.

So open is the NRL this season that just about every team is genuinely in the fight for the top eight. For Canberra to improve their chances of consecutive finals appearances, their record against the competition’s best sides must improve.

Standout player: Ethan Strange. Earlier in the season, halfback Jamal Fogarty would have had this award sewn up. A Round 7 bicep injury means we just can’t award it to the former Titan, despite his brilliance in the opening rounds. Instead, the honour of being Canberra’s standout player goes to rookie five-eighth Ethan Strange, who’s impressed immeasurably in his debut NRL campaign. Acting as Jack Wighton’s success is no task for anyone, regardless of experience or talent, but Strange has taken the burden of being Canberra’s No. 6 in his stride.

In 12 games this season, Strange has crossed for one try, created eight tries and broken 41 tackles, with his powerful ball-running quickly becoming a hallmark of his game. In defence, the 19-year-old makes 19 tackles per game - with 2.5 misses - at an efficiency of 84%.




Who needs to lift: Joseph Tapine. This isn’t to suggest Joseph Tapine is having a poor year. He’s averaging more runs than any other year in his career, the second-most metres of his career, and boasts a 91.2% tackle efficiency. His performances have been incredible this season, and will improve over the back half of the year, as has been the case in recent years. But, it’s as a leader that Tapine needs to step up. Canberra’s side are incredibly inexperienced. If they are to continue the good times in 2024, they’ll need Tapine and their other older guys to step up and offer their young halves, Strange and Kaeo Weekes, guidance when necessary.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS

Ladder:
6th


Grade: B+

Season so far: The Roosters kicked their feet up in Round 14, sitting just inside the top eight. Compared to plenty of other years that featured generous portions of hope and expectation, eighth isn’t too bad. Trent Robinson’s Chooks teams tend to gain steam as the year unfolds – and strong foundations have been laid for a September tilt. In what’s been a particularly positive aspect of the Roosters campaign so far, the group has clicked in attack, having comfortably scored the most total points (386) so far this season. Sam Walker has grown into a better player than he’s ever looked, Brandon Smith is looking more like the attacking threat they forked out for and the side has more than enough threats out wide to convert plenty of half-chances.



Biggestissue: Consistency. To go along with their league-leading attacking output, the Roosters also have the best points differential in the comp (+133). So why are they eighth? At seven wins and six losses, the Chooks haven’t yet strung together a big month, or even a full 80 minutes. And the consequence is the team’s middling ladder position. The Roosters need to get more clutch and more ruthless.

Standout player: Angus Crichton. What a story he’s been. If the NRL handed out a Comeback Player of the Year award, like in the NFL, Crichton would be hard to beat. He started the year in reserve grade and 12 weeks later he was named to start for the Blues in Origin. The backrower has averaged 79 minutes across his past eight games, plus has amassed six tries in that stretch, too. The defensive workrate is back as well, making him one of the most complete edge forwards in rugby league right now.

Who needs to lift: Lindsay Collins. The 28-year-old Origin front-rower is in the prime of his playing days and has the rare ability to offer high impact across big minutes. And yet, his 2024 numbers have dropped off quite jarringly. He’s averaging 48 minutes (vs. 56 in 2023), 27.7 tackles (vs. 32 in 2023) and 88 run metres (vs. 113 in 2023). Third-year middle forward Terrell May looks more like the alpha in the pack, as the club transitions to life without enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves by season’s end.
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS

Ladder:
7th

Grade: B+

Season so far: After an incredibly poor 2023 and a recruitment drive criticised by many for being utility-heavy, there were fears of history repeating itself for Cameron Ciraldo this season. Except, it hasn’t. His Bulldogs side have been largely brilliant this season, well in the hunt for a first top eight berth in many years, and a defensive system that’s only bettered by the Panthers. Yes, the Bulldogs miss more tackles than any other side, but that’s not a problem. While their defence has been exceptional, as showcased when they held the Newcastle Knights to just two points in Round 13 despite having two players binned, their attack has steadily improved week-to-week, particularly following Toby Sexton’s Round 12 elevation into the starting side. All this has been achieved with a relatively undersized pack expected by many to be bullied consistently, with the likes of Bailey Hayward, Kurt Mann and Jaeman Salmon punching well above their weight in the middle.

Biggest issue: Icing games. If, in the final analysis of 2024, the Bulldogs fail to qualify for the top eight, fans of the Belmore outfit will point to three winnable games the club failed to gain two points from - Good Friday against the Rabbitohs, Round Six against Melbourne and Magic Round against Canberra. In each of these games, Canterbury found themselves in a winnable position and in each of these games their match control failed them. This skill is one developed through experience, and as the season has progressed the Bulldogs have found greater match control, particularly through the boots of Matt Burton and Reed Mahoney.


Their defence is good enough to keep them in games against the competitions top sides, as shown against Melbourne and against Penrith in Round 10, but it’ll be their composure and match control that’ll dictate how many games they’ll win from here.



Standout player: Matt Burton. There have been countless standouts for Canterbury this season, among them Viliame Kikau, Josh Curran, Reed Mahoney and Jacob Kiraz. Yet, their most influential performer this season has been five-eighth Matt Burton. Entering the season there were question marks about Burton’s suitability for the halves, with many arguing his best position is in the centres. Over the course of 2024, Burton has proved beyond doubt that he is a leading five-eighth in this competition. Alongside eight tries - the most among NRL halves - Burton has five try assists, while he’s running for more metres per game than at any other point in his Canterbury career. On top of this, the former Panther’s kicking game has been exceptionally mature this year, with his two 40/20s this season exemplifying this fact.



Who needs to lift?: Their forward pack. Almost everyone who has donned the Blue and White this season has lifted their game to new heights. There have been no passengers this campaign, no player riding on the back of their teammates’ successes. Everyone works incredibly hard for each other - this is why their season progressed so impressively.

Yet, in a competition as fiercely competitive as the NRL in 2024, these levels will need to be maintained, if not lifted, over the remainder of the year if the Bulldogs are to achieve what many feel they can and qualify for the top eight. This is particularly true for members of their forward pack. As mentioned, Salmon, Mann, and Hayward have all punched well above their weight, while Curran, Kikau, Max King, and Jacob Preston have performed brilliantly.


Their challenge over the remainder of 2024 is incredibly difficult and important. Should they continue laying a solid platform for their backs and defending brilliantly, it will go a long way to inspiring a first Bulldogs finals berth since 2016.
BRISBANE BRONCOS

Ladder:
8th

Grade: B-


Season so far: 2024 has been a mixed bag for the Brisbane Broncos. In some games, they’ve been excellent. In others, they’ve been mediocre. Take their Round 12 loss to the Titans, when they failed to exert match control with victory in their hands and allowed the Titans to score three tries in eight minutes to steal the two points. Kevin Walters’ side is arguably the competition’s most talented, and they play like it in most games. It’s in the games where they forget how good they are and allow silly errors and ill discipline to creep into their game that they let themselves down. Injuries haven’t helped, with Adam Reynolds and Reece Walsh spending plenty of time on the sidelines this season. But still, this Broncos side has enough depth to win some of the games they’ve been losing.

Biggest issue: Consistency.Errors are also a problem for Brisbane, no side has made more this season. But they were also error-riddled in 2023 and it didn’t seem to impact them too heavily. In 2024, their consistency has been a major issue. They’ve only been able to piece together consecutive wins twice this season, between Rounds 6-8 and Rounds 10-11. Having not won since mid-May, Brisbane find themselves on the fringes of the top eight, with plenty of sides breathing down their neck for a finals berth if the Broncos fail to piece together a good month of footy.

Standout player: Selwyn Cobbo. Many doubted whether the young outside back could shift seamlessly into the centres. But hasn’t he done just that, looking electric every time he’s taken the field and caused nightmares for defenders almost every time he’s touched the ball this season. Across 12 games this season, Cobbo has five tries and averages 128 run metres and five tackle breaks per game. The Origin representative has been a handful.



Who needs to lift: Everyone. It’s hard to pinpoint one particular player who’s had a poor season and needs to lift over the back half of the season. Brisbane’s big name players have either performed well this year (Carrigan, Haas, Cobbo and Mam) or been injured (Reynolds, Walsh). When everyone is fit and firing, there will be no excuses for the Broncos. They’ll need to perform.




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BOZO

Journey Man
Tipping Member
ST. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

Ladder:
9th

Grade: B+

Season so far: It’s fair to the Dragons have so far exceeded expectations and some in 2024. New coach Shane Flanagan has certainly got the most out of this roster, with many players, young and old, enjoying career years. The Dragons are just outside the eight, having won seven wins from 13 games and are only one win behind the fourth placed Dolphins. Unsure whether they have the team to be there at the business end of the season, but if you were to offer this first half of the year to Dragons fans before a ball was kicked in 2024, they’d take it without hesitation.

Biggest issue: They can fall in a heap. While they’ve had some great wins against some good sides, the Dragons have also handed in some shockers. There have been times this season where they just haven’t responded well when placed under pressure and in turn, have quickly become easy fodder for their opposition, namely against the Roosters (conceded 60 points), Bulldogs (conceded 44), Cowboys (conceded 48). In all three of those games, the Dragons let in a quick flurry of points. Lapses of that magnitude just can’t happen if they want to threaten for a top eight spot.

Standout player: Zac Lomax. Even though halfback Ben Hunt leads the NRL in try assists, Lomax is the obvious choice here. What a season he’s had! His name has been in the headlines much of the year, firstly when new coach Shane Flanagan made the decision to shift him from the centres to the wing. That call upset Lomax, who then negotiated an early release from his Dragons deal to sign with Parramatta from next season. As it has turned out, Flanagan’s decision was a masterstroke, with Lomax’s play on the wing earning him a debut Blues jersey.


Who needs to lift: Jacob Liddle. The Dragons hooker is having a pretty solid season, but it hasn’t stopped Flanagan searching for his replacement with it being reported this week that St. George-Illawarra have tabled a contract offer to Souths star Damien Cook from next year. If he wants to hold onto the Dragons No. 9 jersey next season, Liddle will need to raise his game in the back half of 2024.

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Ladder:
10th

Grade: C+

Biggest issue: A month ago their biggest issue would’ve been everything. Now, with form on their side, the biggest issue for Andrew Webster over the back half of the season is ensuring the gutsy playstyle that’s revived their season is maintained when Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck return. If this can be achieved then anything is possible for the Warriors, given how talented their squad are and how close the competition is.




Standout player: In recent weeks Te Maire Martin has put the Warriors on his back in Shaun Johnson’s absence but there can be no doubt their standout player this season has been Addin Fonua-Blake. Yes, he was stood down for Round 12’s win over the Dolphins, but it’s hard to ignore his immense impact on the side. AFB’s run for the most metres of any Warrior this season, broke the line on seven occassions and scored six tries - the second most in the side. In his last year at the club, AFB has been at his best, leading NRL props in metres gained and consistently laying a fantastic foundation for his halves and creative players to build upon. Special mention goes to Jackson Ford, who’s been reliable as ever in 2024, and Wayde Egan, who has grown into a deceptively brilliant hooker this season.

Who needs to lift: Shaun Johnson.Granted injuries have plagued the Warriors halfback this season but when he’s played he’s been largely below par. Given Andrew Webster’s side has won as many games with Johnson (three) as without, the pressure will be on for their No. 7 to seamlessly slip back into this Warriors side and ensure the team’s performances maintain, if not improve, over the end of the season.
SEA EAGLES

Ladder:
11th

Grade: B-

Biggest issue: Round 4. The Sea Eagles got out-muscled, out-enthused and outplayed against a mediocre Dragons side that undid a solid start to the campaign. It was a representation of what this team can be in matches they should win – a let-down. They were also run down when leading 20-0 at home against the Raiders, in wet conditions, in Round 9. Genuine title contenders wouldn’t let that happen.

Standout player: Tolutau Koula. Clearly Daly Cherry-Evans has been his classy best, while Haumole Olakau’atu has also a game-breaker – but those things were kind of no-brainers. Koula has taken his game to a new level this season, only failing to register three figures for run metres twice. He’s gone above 200m twice, including his effort at fullback in Round 11.

Who needs to lift: Taniela Paseka. It feels like the 26-year-old front-rower has been on the cusp of going up a gear for three years now. And just when you think he’s about to explode, the output remains flatlined. He’s still realising how big and bruising he is, but it’s nearing now-or-never o’clock for the seventh-year middle forward.


NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

Ladder:
12th

Grade: C+

Biggest issue:
Defence. The Cowboys have allowed the third-most points in the competition so far. Even though they won the game, coach Todd Payten wasn’t too impressed with the 28 points they allowed to the struggling Tigers in Round 12. It was an improved effort against the Roosters, keeping them to zero in the second half but those issues came to the fore again in their most recent performance versus the Warriors. Simply put, they are far too inconsistent on defence, which is a shame because they can be world-beaters with ball in hand.

Standout player: Tom Dearden. Tough-as-nails playmaker with a heart the size of Phar Lap. Dearden can never be accused of lacking effort when the Cowboys lose. He pops up everywhere and is such a danger when taking the line on as extremely hard to put down considering his smaller stature. Recalled into the Maroons side after Cam Munster’s injury and again proved he belonged in the Origin arena.

Who needs to lift: Val Holmes.He’s a class act and perhaps this is a little unfair, as he has been quite potent on that left edge with ball in hand, but defensively he has been quite poor. In addition, he’s made some uncharacteristic errors this season that have been costly. For the Cowboys to be a genuine premiership threat, Holmes has to be much better.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

Ladder:
13th

Grade: C+

Season so far:
They are one of the glut of nine teams with either six or seven wins, so it’s hard to be too critical, especially with fullback Kalyn Ponga sidelined for most of the season. The were able to win four on the bounce after Ponga went down to move into the eight but have dropped their last two games. At the moment, Newcastle just don’t really have the strike power to put fear into their opposition, and there is a real chance they start to drop out of contention over the next few weeks unless they turn their form around.

Biggest issue: Consistency from the halves. Newcastle haven’t been able to lock down a halves partnership that the team can be comfortable with. Jackson Hastings, Tyson Gamble and Jack Cogger have taken rotated amongst the two halves spots for mixed results. Hastings and Gamble have had some good moments while Panthers recruit Cogger has been a tad disappointing and yet to show his best form at his new club.

Standout player: We’ve been impressed by the play of the versatile Dylan Lucas in what is just his second year of first grade. Lucas, who won the club’s Rookie of the Year award in 2023, has played in the centres and back row this season. He’s proven quite a handful for opposition defences in either position and is a sure defender. Last week against Melbourne, Lucas played at centre and ran for 180 metres. For the season, he’s scored four tries and averaged 108 running metres and three tackle busts a game. In a team of many solid performers this season, the promising Lucas has been on of Newcastle’s best.

Who needs to lift: Greg Marzhew. He was terrific last season, scoring 22 tries in 22 games but the bruising winger hasn’t gone close to reaching those heights so far in 2024. Marzhew just hasn’t had the same opportunities and has only scored two (!) tries. He’s also well, well down on line breaks and tackle busts. As a winger, your form largely depends on the service you get from your teammates, but the Knights would have been hoping for a little more input from Marzhew considering star winger Dom Young departed the club in the off-season.

PARRAMATTA EELS
Ladder:
14th

Grade: D

Standout player:
Blaize Talagi. There have been very few for the Eels this season, but one player who can hold his head high is the 19-year-old Parramatta junior. Talagi has been required to play several positions since debuting in Round 3. Playing left centre, he burst onto the scene against Manly that day with a try and a performance that showed he belonged in first grade. Since, he has been asked to play in the halves and at fullback as well. He was super impressive at fullback in particular, filling in for Clint Gutherson who missed a few weeks with a knee injury. In eight games, Talagi has scored five tries, recorded seven line breaks, five line break assists and 29 tackle busts.
Who needs to lift: Reagan Campbell-Gillard. The prop just hasn’t had the same impact this season as he has had in previous campaigns for Parramatta. Campbell-Gillard is averaging just 101 run metres per game, well down on the 130 he averaged last season and the 133 metres per game in 2022. The Eels forwards have as a whole have been mostly underwhelming, and there have been games this season where they’ve been dominated by rival packs.
GOLD COAST TITANS

Ladder:
15th

Grade: C-

Biggest issue:
Halfback. It was their biggest concern heading into the 2024 season and three months later, it still is. Tanah Boyd has had several chances to prove he’s the guy, but he isn’t the solution. Tom Weaver is mostly untested and is still on an upward spiral as a footballer. He tries hard and is tough, but there are still more questions than answers. The Titans have probably played better in attack this season when Kieran Foran has been commandeering the side around at halfback, but he’s obviously in the home straight of his career and he’s had to deal with a couple of niggling injuries this season.

Standout player: David Fifita. The glaringly obvious, but when Fifita’s been on this season, he’s been near unstoppable. The second rower was playing as well as any in his position over the months of April and May after missing the first three games through injury. Just how big an impact he has on this team was evident when he returned in Round 4. The Titans lost their first three games when Fifita and had a points differential of -72. When Fifita’s been in the line-up this season, the Titans have won three from nine. Four of those losses though were decided by only four points or less. The barnstorming forward is averaging a career high in run metres (131 per game) and is averaging 5.5 tackle busts a match.


Who needs to lift: Keenan Palasia. The 27-year-old forward joined the Titans in the off-season after a career year at the Broncos in 2023. He was arguably one of the best forwards on the field in the grand final loss to Penrith, so Titans fans would have been expecting Palasia to be a key part of a talented forward pack this season. Unfortunately, due to injuries, Palasia has only featured in five games thus far and when he has been on the park; his form hasn’t been good enough to crack the starting side.
South Sydney Rabbitohs

Ladder:
16th


Grade: D

Biggest issue: Defence. No side has conceded more than South Sydney’s 386 points this season. The Rabbitohs have conceded 50+ points once, 40+ points twice and more than 30 points three times. Even their win over Parramatta, where they scored 42 points, saw South Sydney concede 26. No one doubts their attack, especially with the talent they possess, but if they’ll only cause serious headaches over the back half of the year, it’ll be through a tightened defence.

Standout player: Jack Wighton. Whether it be at centre or five-eighth, Jack Wighton has been a handful for defences to deal with this season. Everyone knows how good a footballer the former Canberra man. There are few ball runners as destructive as Wighton, with his ability to bust past defenders an incredible asset for his side. Despite the Rabbitohs struggling around him, there can be no doubt Wighton’s season has been strong.

Who needs to lift: Any club in a rut calls upon it’s senior players to elevate it. South Sydney are no difference. Mitchell, Cook, Walker, Wighton and Murray in particular need to step up and perform consistently at the levels we’ve become accustomed to in recent seasons, both as individuals and collectively.

Wests Tigers

Ladder:
17th

Grade: F

Biggest issue: Ill-discipline. As mentioned above, no side has had more players sin binned this season than the Tigers’ nine. Outside of a handful of clubs, sin bins are incredibly difficult to handle, with teams often conceding when down to 12. If the Tigers are to salvage any respect from their season, they’ll need to clean their discipline up, keep 13 on the park as often as possible and give themselves every chance to win their remaining games.

Standout player: Lachlan Galvin has been one of the shining lights of the Tigers season. Despite recent drama surrounding the young five-eighth reportedly wanting out of the club, few can argue he has been the Tigers best this season. While not scoring yet this season, the young five-eighth has six try assists, the second-most at the club, while his running game has been a constant threat down the Tigers’ left edge.

Who needs to lift: Aiden Sezer. Every side needs their halfback to steer the ship around. In this inexperienced Tigers side, Aiden Sezer needs to lift, be the No. 7 everyone knows he can be and guide Benji Marshall’s side around the park. So far this season, he’s failed to do that on a consistent basis. Alongside hooker Api Koroisau, the burden of steering this struggling Tigers ship across the back half of the season falls upon Sezer’s experienced shoulders.
 

BOZO

Journey Man
Tipping Member
Manly have both the NSW and QLD origin captains in our side, yet we sit 11th on the ladder. It’s simply not good enough.
We have speed to burn in the back line
We have experience in the halves
We have a Big Pack
We have a top 8 Roster
and Seibold has our Team out of the top 8
We are also very Proud and Passionate Manly People with Great Manly standards
and We will Always Stand up against the ones that dont Live up to expectations and Deliver
This is Called Keeping the Bastards honest and Keeping up our Great Manly Standards

Lower our Legendary clubs Great Standards and We Stand for Nothing Great
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BOZO

Journey Man
Tipping Member
We all Want Every one at Manly to Succeed and Manly to be a Success and this quote Says it Best
Being held accountable is an act of generosity and compassion.
It is a gift that someone gives us to correct our wrongs, unlearn, and do better for the sake of our own growth . It might be uncomfortable, but it is worth the discomfort.
- Minaa B.

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Last edited:

Damien2812

Bencher
If Manly continues the losing ways, Seibold will be out the door hopefully soon rather than later. If the club is really looking at moving on from Seibold than Brad Arthur needs to be signed up quick before the Tigers decide to throw offers his way.
 

BOZO

Journey Man
Tipping Member
If Manly continues the losing ways, Seibold will be out the door hopefully soon rather than later. If the club is really looking at moving on from Seibold than Brad Arthur needs to be signed up quick before the Tigers decide to throw offers his way.
On the other hand . if Manly keeps winning and soars into the top of the table
Seibold keeps the Manly fans happy and he keeps his job

The moral of the story ..
Everything is for Everyone to keep or lose
We are all in the same boat and we either sink of swim
No excuses
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