The National Rugby League is little more than a month from kicking off and now is a good time to secure the futures value before more punters focus on the competition.
National Rugby League bookmakers offer odds on both the minor premiership, which goes to the team that tops the ladder at the end of the regular season, and the major premiership, which goes to the side that wins the grand final. From a futures betting perspective, one is more interested in the National Rugby League minor premiership because wagers on it do not boil down to a sudden-death title-deciding match at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium in October.
Dutching three National Rugby League minor premiership candidates is the smartest way to approach punting on the regular season of the world’s best rugby league tournament so back Melbourne at odds of +600 with 888Sport, Canberra at odds of +900 with Betfair and Ladbrokes, and Sydney at odds of +1600 with Betfair for a bet that produces odds of +231 .
Melbourne won last season’s National Rugby League minor premiership by three points despite being missing one of its superstars for all bar the first round. Billy Slater pulled up sore after taking part in Melbourne’s 18-16 win over St George Illawarra and did not feature for the Storm again. Slater is on track to return to Melbourne’s fullback spot for the upcoming National Rugby League competition and, if the 2011 Dally M Medal recipient stays upright, it will enable Cameron Munster to partner Cooper Cronk in the Storm halves. Slater, Munster, Cronk and Cameron Smith – no other National Rugby League team has better playmakers. Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy is the National Rugby League’s master recruiter and one loves his signing of Josh Addo-Carr, who will fill the void created by Marika Koroibete’s departure.
Canberra finished last year’s National Rugby League regular season on the second rung of the NRL ladder. Canberra’s attack is the most potent in the National Rugby League but the Raiders have a suspect defence and one is not a big fan of their coach, Ricky Stuart. On paper, Canberra should be as good in 2017 as it was in 2016 and, unlike several of its National Rugby League title rivals, the Raiders may avoid losing many of its key players during the State of Origin series between New South Wales and Queensland.
Sydney is set to be the National Rugby League’s greatest improver after ending last term’s regular season one rung off the bottom of the ladder. Sydney coach Trent Robinson has acquired Michael Gordon to play somewhere in his side’s back three and, if Paul Carter channels his aggression, he will strengthen what is an already strong Roosters pack. A lot will depend on how another new recruit, Luke Keary, fares in Sydney’s halves but the Roosters are available at the right kind of odds to take a small punt on them.
What about the other National Rugby League teams? North Queensland may struggle during the National Rugby League regular season due to State of Origin commitments and the loss of James Tamou and Ben Hannant from its pack. Penrith is a legitimate National Rugby League major premiership contender but the Panthers will play at least half of the regular season without their most influential back, Josh Mansour. Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett has signed Benji Marshall and one simply cannot bet on any National Rugby League side with him in its starting line-up? Cronulla Sutherland won last year’s National Rugby League grand final but the Sharks have lost Michael Ennis, the gritty hooker whom one thinks was the final piece in their title-winning jigsaw. The Warriors are the Warriors and untrustworthy, while South Sydney, Gold Coast, Canterbury Bankstown, Parramatta, Manly Warringah, Wests Tigers, St George Illawarra and Newcastle are not worth considering.
Dutch Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney
To Win NRL Minor Premiership 2017