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The National Rugby League, the world’s finest domestic rugby league competition, kicks off on Thursday and the futures bet of the season is Wests Tigers to post more than seven and a half wins at odds of 67/100 1.67 -149 0.67 -1.49 0.67 with BetVictor and SkyBet.
Wests Tigers has the National Rugby League Round One match that every team wanted – away to Gold Coast. Crisis club is an overused term in sport but it is the only way to describe Gold Coast, which has had to stand down many of its stars, including State of Origin players Greg Bird and Dave Taylor, because of the cocaine scandal that is engulfing the Titans.
Gold Coast was uncompetitive in many of its National Rugby League games last season so the portents are not good for how the Titans will fare without several of its regular starters. Gold Coast’s spine – fullback, five-eighth, halfback and hooker – rates as one of the weakest in the National Rugby League and the Titans have one of the least impressive interchange benches as well. Only the possibility of another National Rugby League side being ripped apart by an off-field scandal is stopping one stepping into the short odds on offer about Gold Coast collecting the wooden spoon.
A safer long-term play is backing Wests Tigers to win more than seven and half National Rugby League matches. New Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has to be an improvement on former boss Mick Potter, who spent much of last term fending off rumours about player angst. Taylor, who has National Rugby League coaching experience having led Parramatta and South Sydney previously, is placing his faith in youth and Wests Tigers have some seriously talented youngsters, including fullback James Tedesco, five-eighth Mitchell Moses and halfback Luke Brooks. New South Wales hooker Robbie Farah captains Wests Tigers and he will be there to provide his youthful teammates in key positions with guidance as they learn their trade in the National Rugby League. Wests Tigers won 10 of its 24 National Rugby League games last season and one would be surprised to see the Tigers go backwards, not least because they have an excellent competition schedule.
The National Rugby League draw is compromised because the 16 sides do not play each other on a home-and-away basis, plus the State of Origin series means that each team receives two byes but not necessarily in the same rounds. Wests Tigers is drawn to play the following nine National Rugby League sides twice – Canberra, Canterbury, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Parramatta, St George Illawarra, South Sydney, Sydney and the Warriors – and one would rate just four of them as legitimate title contenders. Also – and this is really important – Wests Tigers will host North Queensland, Parramatta and South Sydney in National Rugby League rounds in which teams have to play without their State of Origin stars. While Wests Tigers is likely to lose Aaron Woods and Farah for those three National Rugby League rounds, North Queensland is 99.99 per cent certain to lose its influential five-eighth Johnathan Thurston and South Sydney is likely to be without some of its regular starters, including fullback Greg Inglis, centre Dylan Walker and halfback Adam Reynolds. The National Rugby League draw could not have been much kinder to Wests Tigers, hence one’s interest in the bet.
Only three times in the history of Wests Tigers has it not gone over seven and a half National Rugby League wins. One likes a strike rate of 12 out of 15 and, even though some punters got in early and backed the odds down to 67/100 1.67 -149 0.67 -1.49 0.67 , one has no doubt that the option still represents good value.