The 2022 NRL season appears from the outset to be an open competition, with several teams improving their chances with key signings. The salary cap is doing its job on the reigning premiers Penrith, with several key players joining other clubs. Still, they are quietly confident that they have the back-up talent to win consecutive titles.
The Broncos finally have a halfback, the Bulldogs welcome their first batch of superstar buys and the Sharks have added some key pieces to their line-up as well. The Storm may appear to be coming apart at the the seams, but everyone knows not to underestimate them. The Bunnies start a new era, while the Sea Eagles think it might just be their year.
We take a look at each of the teams lining up for the 2022 NRL season.
Home Ground: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Coach: Kevin Walters
Walters enters his second year in charge of the team with expectations high on the back of the signing of Adam Reynolds. The biggest issue facing the Broncos in recent years has been the lack of a decisive haflback with a complete all-round game. Reynolds might be nearer the end of his career than the start, but he ticks all the boxes for a quick fix at the Broncos. The club has also added some class and experience to the forwards with the signing of Kurt Capewell. Those two additions alone will set the professional bar higher for the entire squad and hopefully lead the proud Brisbane club back into the finals. With the shadow of the 2023 arrival of the Dolphins looming, they really need to reward their fan base with a more consistent, season-long performance.
1. Tesi Niu 2. Selwyn Cobbo 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Corey Oates 6. Albert Kelly 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Payne Haas 9. Jake Turpin 10. Tom Flegler 11. Jordan Riki 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Kobe Hetherington 15. Ryan James 16. Keenan Palasia 17. TC Robati
Biggest loss: Xavier Coates Biggest gain: Adam Reynolds
First five: Rabbitohs (H), Bulldogs (A), Cowboys (H), Warriors (A), Roosters (H)
Last year's finish: 14th
Predicted 2022 finish: 9th
TAB odds: Premiers $26, Top 4: $7.00, Final 8: $2.50, Miss The Top 8: $1.48, Most Losses: $15
Home ground: GIO Stadium Canberra
Coach: Ricky Stuart
The Raiders were possibly the biggest disappointments of the 2021 season, with many predicting them to challenge for the title. Ricky Stuart had some well-publicised player disputes and hopefully he has the dressing shed back under control for this year. Hooker Josh Hodgson is in his last season with the club after signing with the Eels for 2023, so it will be interesting to see how he performs. Nick Cotric will be looking for a big year after returning from an ill-fated stint with the Bulldogs, while Jamal Fogarty could be just what they needed at halfback -- but he'll miss the first couple of months with injury.
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Jordan Rapana 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Seb Kris 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Emre Guler 11. Elliott Whitehead 12. Hudson Young 13. Adam Elliott 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Corey Harawira-Naera 17. Joseph Tapine
Biggest loss: George Williams Biggest gain: Jamal Fogarty
First five: Sharks (H), Cowboys (A), Titans (H), Sea Eagles (A), Storm (H)
Last year's finish: 10th
Predicted 2022 finish: 6th
TAB odds: Premiers: $26, Top 4: $6.50, Final 8: $2.15, Miss The Top 8: $1.16, Most Losses: $17
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
Home Grounds: Accor Stadium (Olympic Stadium Homebush), CommBank Stadium Parramatta, Belmore Sports Ground.
Coach: Trent Barrett
In his second year at the helm of the Bulldogs, coach Trent Barrett takes a huge leap forward with an influx of new, high quality players. The time has come for him to prove to fans that he is the man to bring this team together and produce sadly-missed on-field results. The settling in period is well and truly over and the only way is up after finishing 2021 with the embarrassment of claiming the wooden spoon. The Bulldogs really need to be knocking down the door of the top eight this season or Barrett could find himself on some very shaky ground. They still have major question marks around the key halfback and hooker roles. If there aren't major improvements in those two positions, all the quality elsewhere could go to waste.
1. Matt Dufty 2. Braidon Burns 3. Aaron Schoupp 4. Brent Naden 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Jake Averillo 8. Luke Thompson 9. Joshua Cook 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tevita Pangai Jr 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Josh Jackson 14. Jeremy Marshall-King 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Max King
Biggest loss: Nick Meaney Biggest gain: Matt Burton
First five: Cowboys (A), Broncos (H), Sea Eagles (A), Storm (A), Panthers (H)
Last year's finish: Last
Predicted 2022 finish: 14th
TAB odds: Premiers: $26, Top 4: $7.50, Final 8: $2.75, Miss The Top 8: $1.40, Most Losses: $13
Home Ground: PointsBet Stadium (Shark Park)
Coach: Craig Fitzgibbon
The Sharks welcome a new coach and a couple of star players from the Storm as they head back to their beloved home ground in the heart of the Shire. Cronulla have spent an uncomfortable couple of years at the Kogarah, home of their mortal enemies the Dragons, whilst redevelopment work was being completed next to Shark Park. Nicho Hynes will be under enormous pressure as he makes the transition from fullback/bench player to starting in the halves for the Sharks. If Matt Moylan can stay on the field, he and Hynes could potentially be one of the league's most effective halves combinations. Forward leader Dale Finucane will combine with Toby Rudolf to give the Sharks plenty of starch up the middle in what should be a much-improved season for the club.
1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Connor Tracey 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Dale Finucane 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Wade Graham 12. Briton Nikora 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Teig Wilton 15. Toby Rudolf 16. Andrew Fifita 17. Siosifa Talakai
Biggest loss: Shaun Johnson Biggest gain: Nicho Hynes
First five: Raiders (A), Eels (H), Dragons (A), Knights (H), Tigers (H)
Last year's finish: 9th
Predicted 2022 finish: 3rd
TAB odds: Premiers: $21, Top 4: $4.25, Final 8: $1.85, Miss The Top 8: $1.85, Most Losses: $34
Gold Coast Titans
Home Ground: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Coach: Justin Holbrook
The Titans surprised a few by sneaking into last season's finals. They have been slowly but surely assembling a competitive side, but this year have cleaned out their halves and will need to start over in those key roles. The emergence of Jayden Campbell at fullback last year sees AJ Brimson move to five-eighth, partnering young gun Toby Sexton. The Titans look well stocked in the forwards, but will have to find cohesion across the park if they are to match or better last year's performance.
1. Jayden Campbell 2. Corey Thompson 3. Patrick Herbert 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami 6. AJ Brimson 7. Toby Sexton 8. Isaac Liu 9. Erin Clark 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. David Fifita 13. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 14. Tanah Boyd 15. Jarrod Wallace 16. Beau Fermor 17. Jaimin Jolliffe
Biggest loss: Ash Taylor Biggest gain: Isaac Liu
First five: Eels (A), Warriors (H), Raiders (A), Tigers (H), Eels (H)
Last year's finish: 8th
Predicted 2022 finish:13th
TAB odds: Premiers: $23, Top 4: $5.50, Final 8: $2, Miss The Top 8: $1.75, Most Losses: $21
Manly Sea Eagles
Home Ground: 4 Pines Park, Brookvale
Coach: Des Hasler
Coach Des Hasler has a knack for squeezing the best out of his Manly sides and the Sea Eagles were very impressive last year in their run to and through the finals. Possibly more than most teams, the Sea Eagles can not afford injuries to any of their big-name players, as depth in key positions often seems thin. Still, with their best squad available the Sea Eagles, with their wily halves combination, best fullback in the world and lightning-quick outside backs, are going to be very tough to beat.
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Martin Taupau 11. Haumole Olakau'atu 12. Josh Schuster 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dylan Walker 15. Karl Lawton 16. Sean Keppie 17. Josh Aloiai
Biggest loss: Moses Suli Biggest gain: Ethan Bullemor
First five: Panthers (A), Roosters (A), Bulldogs (H), Raiders (H), Knights (A)
Last year's finish: 4th
Predicted 2022 finish: 2nd
TAB odds: Premiers $9, Top 4: $1.85, Final 8: $1.16, Miss The Top 8: $4.75, Most Losses: $67
Home Ground: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Coach: Craig Bellamy
There are a lot of distractions bubbling away at the surface for the Storm as they head into 2022. Craig Bellamy's future has been mapped out away from the sidelines and his replacement is yet to be decided. Several key players have either left the club or are on their way out next season. Bellamy's ability to bring together a quality team with players performing way above expectations will be sorely tested this year. Yet it would take a brave man to predict that they will do anything other that finish near the top of the ladder as they always seem to do. After all, they still have one of the most impressive spines in the competition once Cameron Munster returns from suspension to claim the No.6 jersey, and they have added some handy backline players in Xavier Coates and Nick Meaney.
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Xavier Coates 3. Justin Olam 4. Reimis Smith 5. George Jennings 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Brandon Smith 14. Nick Meaney 15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Tom Eisenhuth
Biggest loss: Dale Finucane Biggest gain: Xavier Coates
First five: Tigers (A), Rabbitohs (H), Eels (H), Bulldogs (H). Raiders (A)
Last year's finish: 1st (Minor Premiers)
Predicted 2022 finish: 5th
TAB odds::Premiers: $5.50, Top 4: $1.60, Final 8: $1.10, Miss The Top 8: $6, Most Losses: $126
Home Ground: Macdonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Coach: Adam O'Brien
Halfback Mitchell Pearce has departed leaving the fresh combination of Jake Clifford and Adam Clune to carry the burden of moving the team around while ensuring Kalyn Ponga sees enough of the ball. Dane Gagai returns in the centres where his immense experience will be of value, although Jayden Brailey's season-ending injury is a real blow. The Knights have a nice balance of talent and experience through the forwards and the backs, and fans will be hoping for another finals appearance. If Ponga can stay on the field throughout the year, and Andrew Johns can work his magic with the halves, they just might sneak into the Top 8 again.
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Enari Tuala 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Chris Randall 10. David Klemmer 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Kurt Mann 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Brodie Jones 17. Sauaso Sue
Biggest loss: Mitchell Pearce Biggest gain: Dane Gagai
First five: Roosters (A), Tigers (H), Panthers (A), Sharks (A), Sea Eagles (H)
Last year's finish: 7th
Predicted 2022 finish: 11th
TAB odds: Premiers: $29, Top 4: $8, Final 8: $2.75, Miss The Top 8: $1.40, Most Losses: $8
New Zealand Warriors
Home Grounds: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Moreton Daily Stadium, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland(?)
Coach: Nathan Brown
The NRL's nomads look set to spend another season stuck in Australia with New Zealand continuing with tough COVID-related border restrictions. Superstar half Shaun Johnson signed on in order to get home to New Zealand, a move that has backfired on him a bit, but he will still be crucial to the Warriors' chances this season. The Warriors have a team on paper which could trouble a lot of the top teams and with Johnson leading them, they should threaten a top eight spot. Consistency has always been the biggest worry for the club and coach Nathan Brown will need to continue working on that aspect.
1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Jesse Arthars 4. Rocco Berry 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Euan Aitken 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh Curran 14. Ash Taylor 15. Jazz Tevaga 15. Aaron Pene 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila
Biggest loss: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck Biggest gain: Shaun Johnson
First five: Dragons (H), Titans (A), Tigers (A), Broncos (H), Cowboys (H)
Last year's finish: 12th
Predicted 2022 finish:10th
TAB odds: Premiers: $41, Top 4: $10, Final 8: $4, Miss The Top 8: $1.20, Most Losses: $7.50
North Queensland Cowboys
Home Ground: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
Coach: Todd Payten
The Cowboys were truly horrible at times during 2021 and coach Todd Payten will be feeling the pressure as he attempts to turn things around. Big questions were asked around his use of star forward Jason Taumalolo and the subsequent perceived rumbling of discontent from the dressing sheds. The club welcomes established halfback Chad Townsend from the Warriors and he should have an instant impact in terms of game management. Finding the best way to bring the talents of Valentine Holmes to the fore will be part of the challenge as they look to score more points than they concede after having the second worst points differential last year.
1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Murray Taulagi 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Kyle Feldt 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Mitchell Dunn 12. Heilum Luki 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Reuben Cotter 16. Coen Hess 17. Jeremiah Nanai
Biggest loss: Michael Morgan Biggest gain: Chad Townsend
First five: Bulldogs (H), Raiders (H), Broncos (A), Roosters (H), Warriors (A)
Last year's finish: 15th
Predicted 2022 finish: 15th
TAB odds: Premiers: $67, Top 4: $11, Final 8: $4.50, Miss The Top 8: $1.17, Most Losses: $4.25
Home Ground: CommBank Stadium Parramatta
Coach: Brad Arthur
This looks like it could be the final year of a premiership window for the Eels, as salary cap pressure will see several key players depart in 2023. They have an annoying habit of looking like world beaters at every part of the season -- except when it matters most. Coach Brad Arthur will be doing everything in his power to squeeze the most out of the halves combination of Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown, with the talent in the outside backs looking decidedly thin apart from fullback Clint Gutherson.
1. Clint Gutherson 2. Haze Dunster 3. Waqa Blake 4. Will Penisini 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Junior Paulo 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Isaiah Papali'i 13. Nathan Brown 14. Ray Stone 15. Shaun Lane 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Bryce Cartwright
Biggest loss: Will Smith Biggest gain: Bailey Simonsson
First five: Titans (H), Sharks (A), Storm (A), Dragons (H), Titans (A)
Last year's finish: 6th
Predicted 2022 finish: 7th:
TAB odds: Premiers: $13, Top 4: $3.50, Final 8: $1.50, Miss The Top 8: $2.45, Most Losses: $41
Home Ground: BlueBet Stadium Penrith
Coach: Ivan Cleary
The reigning premiers head into the 2022 season with high hopes of winning back-to-back premierships, but they didn't escape 2021 intact. Salary cap pressure has seen several players depart for greener pastures, with Matt Burton being the the most notable loss. Still Penrith is famous for its production line of young talent, and future stars of the game are lined up to fill the vacancies. Having the New South Wales Origin halves in charge certainly helps their cause and there is plenty of talent in the backs and in the pack to see them finish near the top of the ladder again.
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Brian To'o 3. Stephen Crichton 4. Izack Tago 5. Charlie Staines 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Api Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Matt Eisenhuth
Biggest loss: Matt Burton Biggest gain: Sean O'Sullivan
First five: Sea Eagles (H), Dragons (A), Knights (H), Rabbitohs (H), Bulldogs (A)
Last year's finish: 2nd (Premiers)
Predicted 2022 finish: 1st
TAB odds: Premiers: $5, Top 4: $1.55, Final 8: $1.08, Miss The Top 8: $6.50, Most Losses: $126
St George Illawarra Dragons
Home Ground: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Coach: Anthony Griffin
To the surprise of many, coach Anthony Griffin recently had his contract extended. He has assembled a rag-tag assortment of players after a 2021 season on the fringe of playing finals. Halfback Ben Hunt begins the final year of his big five-year Dragons contract without Corey Norman and Matt Dufty, with the club looking to youth in the key five-eighth and fullback roles. Hunt was good last season but will have to step it up again in 2022, with the club's hopes and his future weighing heavily on his shoulders. On paper it is hard to see the Dragons improving on last year's 11th place finish, despite some promising preseason efforts.
1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Cody Ramsey 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Jack de Belin 11. Jaydn Su'A 12. Tariq Sims 13. Jack Bird 14. Moses Mbye 15. Francis Molo 16. Aaron Woods 17. Tyrell Fuimaono
Biggest loss: Matt Dufty Biggest gain: Moses Suli
First five: Warriors (A), Panthers (H), Sharks (H), Eels (A), Rabbitohs (A)
Last year's finish: 11th
Predicted 2022 finish: 12th
TAB odds: Premiers: $41, Top 4: $10, Final 8: $3, Miss The Top 8: $1.30, Most Losses: $5.50
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Home Ground: Accor Stadium (Olympic Stadium Homebush)
Coach: Jason Demetriou
It is the start of an new era for the Rabbitohs as they enter 2022 without long-time halfback and leader Adam Reynolds, and following the departure of coach Wayne Bennett. The Bunnies did exceptionally well to make last year's decider where they gave the Panthers a run for their money, but it's hard to picture them returning to such lofty heights this year. In the past, teams that have enjoyed the fruits or otherwise of a Bennett tenure generally struggled in the aftermath of his departure. They have some young superstars coming through, but it could take a couple of years to re-establish themselves as a title threat.
1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Campbell Graham 4. Jaxson Paulo 5. Josh Mansour 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tom Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Jai Arrow 12. Keaon Koloamatangi 13. Cameron Murray 14. Jacob Host 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Hame Sele 17. Siliva Havili
Biggest loss: Adam Reynolds Biggest gain: Siliva Havili
First five: Broncos (A), Storm (A), Roosters (H), Panthers (A), Dragons (H)
Last year's finish: 3rd (Runners-up)
Predicted 2022 finish: 8th
TAB odds: Premiers $9, Top 4: $2.15, Final 8: $1.25, Miss The Top 8: $3.70, Most Losses: $51
Home Ground: Sydney Cricket Ground
Coach: Trent Robinson
The Roosters are one of the NRL's most consistent performers and are nearly always in the running at the end of the year. Coach Trent Robinson, who last week had his contract extended through 2028, has the Roosters well-drilled and disciplined and is able to introduce fresh talent to the side without disrupting their winning ways. They need to keep halves pairing Sam Walker and Luke Keary on the field for the majority of the year if they are to challenge for another title. Connor Watson returns and he will add spark around the ruck and add depth in the halves positions.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Joseph Manu 5. Joseph Suaalii 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Sam Verrills 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Victor Radley 14. Connor Watson 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Nat Butcher 17. Egan Butcher
Biggest loss: Josh Morris Biggest gain: Connor Watson
First five: Knights (H), Sea Eagles (H), Rabbitohs (A), Cowboys (A), Broncos (A)
Last year's finish: 5th
Predicted 2022 finish: 4th
TAB odds: Premiers: $6.00, Top 4: $1.70, Final 8: $1.14, Miss The Top 8: $5, Most Losses: $101
Home Grounds: CommBank Stadium Parramatta, Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Michael Maguire
The Tigers are enduring a long drought without playing finals football and they look to be in for another struggle in 2022. Tim Sheens' arrival at the club has seen some big signings, but the biggest of those won't arrive until 2023. Meanwhile coach Maguire has to find a way to squeeze a decent effort out of the squad he has at his disposal. With Adam Doueihi out injured for the start of the season, even more pressure will be on the shoulders of halfback Luke Brooks. The addition of Tyrone Peachey and Jackson Hastings will add some much needed attacking flare, but will it be enough to lift the Tigers and save Maguire's neck?
1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Oliver Gildart 4.Adam Doueihi 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Jackson Hastings 7. Luke Brooks 8. James Tamou 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Stefano Utoikamanu 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Thomas Mikaele 17. Zane Musgrove
Biggest loss: Moses Mbye Biggest gain: Jackson Hastings
First five: Storm (H), Knights (A), Warriors (H), Titans (A), Sharks (A)
Last year's finish: 13th
Predicted 2022 finish: 16th
TAB odds: Premiers: $67, Top 4: $12, Final 8: $5, Miss The Top 8: $1.14, Most Losses: $3.50
TAB odds accurate at time of publish - please visit tab.com.au for the latest.