2022 looks to be the most exciting season yet as the NRL's young talent rises to the top, we tackle the toughest questions facing each of our NRL teams!
Can the Brisbane Broncos develop a stable half pairing?
Last year viewers saw the halves pairing change continuously with Kevvie Walters not providing enough time for his halves to synergise with each other. This year sees Adam Reynolds sure up the No.7 spot, however there are many names competing for the no.6 spot including Billy Walters, Ezra Mam, Tyson Gamble, and Albert Kelly. Billy Walters seems to have secured the spot for now, but Ezra Mam looms as a bright prospect who may have his eyes set elsewhere if he isn’t given the opportunity.
Who is going to cement the no.1 spot at the Canberra Raiders?
Injury hampered Charnze’s 2021 campaign, and this allowed Canberra to blood their latest rising star in Xavier Savage who with his speed and vision has grabbed the chance with two hands and given Ricky Stuart a real headache in terms of selection. Charnze seem to have secured the spot at the start, but injury or form may see Xavier Savage step up and take the reins.
Can the off-season recruitment translate into points for the Dogs?
The Bulldogs produced a dismal 3-win season in 2021 and their main struggle was attack. 340 points for the season was more than 100 points behind their closest competitor. The big additions including Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr and Tevita Pangai Jnr should see an uptick in this area.
Can Nicho Hynes adjust to his new role in the Number 7 jersey?
Hynes had a breakout year in 2020. Coming into fullback to replace the injured Papenhuyzen, Hynes exceeded all expectations proved himself as a premier fullback in the competition. His introduction into the Sharks sees him undertake a new role and it remains to be seen whether he can perform in it at the NRL level. His performance in the All-Stars match was impressive but more is needed.
Gold Coast Titans:
How long will it take for the young Titans spine to combine?
The Titans let go of Jamal Fogarty and Mitch Rein last year to hand over the reins to a young but promising outfit. Brimson moves to the five eighth position for the first time since 2019 and has three relatively new players partnering him in the spine. Can they synergise and step up to the NRL level quickly or will this be a development season for the Titans?
Toby Sexton: 4 games
Jayden Campbell: 6 games
Erin Clark: 11 games starting at hooker
Alexander Brimson: 15 games starting at five eighth
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles:
Can Tom Trbojevic remain injury free?
Manly were a shell of themselves without Tom Trbojevic with arguably one of the worst starts in NRL history. Upon Trbojevic’s return, Manly went on a stellar run, the question is whether his body can stay fit in an even longer season after only playing 15 regular season games. His efforts through Origin and the final series give greater confidence, and hopefully he can remain injury free.
Can Melbourne avenge their finals defeat and show they can be strong in finals run without Cameron Smith?
The NRL finals performance for the Storm was one of their worst ever, and Bellamy recently mentioned it was their most winnable competition in 2021 due to their form and roster. Their loss in finals was more of a mental loss and highlighted the loss of Cameron Smith as a leader. Melbourne will need to bounce back strong in this year’s final series to prove their mettle and ability to perform in the back half of the season.
Can the Knights keep Kalyn Ponga?
A player option in his favour sees the Knights scrambling to keep him. The recruitment of Andrew Johns to their coaching roster has helped, but a poor start may see Ponga look elsewhere.
North Queensland Cowboys:
Can the Cowboys fix their leaking defence?
The Cowboys leaked the most points in 2021 with 748 points against them, more than double that of the Storm. Despite the addition of Hammer to fullback and Chad Townsend to the no.7 jersey, if they can’t fix their defence, their attacking feats won’t matter.
Can the Eels take the next step and deliver a premiership after a drought that stretches to the 80s?
This is probably the last year for the Eels roster to compete for a premiership before a rebuilding phase. The club loses Reed Mahoney, Isaiah Papali’i, Marata Niukore, Oregon Kaufusi, and Ray Stone at the end of the year. 2021 saw them take steps forward, pushing the Panthers to the limit yet the Eels need to take the next step this year or they may have to wait significantly longer for their next chance.
Can the Panthers deal with origin workload for their players?
While the Panthers won the premiership last year, it is arguable that the 2020 Panthers team was stronger due to a lack of injuries on the back of Origin. Going into the grand final, Ivan Cleary had several players carrying injuries including Dylan Edwards, Brian To’o and Nathan Cleary. The team also lost Jarome Luai to injury during the season. Ivan Cleary will need to manage workload through rest and minutes management to ensure his players aren’t injured.
South Sydney Rabbitohs:
Can the Souths handle the loss of Wayne Bennett and Adam Reynolds?
very team that has lost Wayne Bennet has gone on to struggle after, and compounding this, Souths lose one of their key pieces in Adam Reynolds. Reports suggest that it was Demetriou himself who decided not to offer Reynolds a longer contract leading to his departure to the Broncos. The additional pressure onto Ilias with this will be monumental and hopefully the other talents within the Souths can help facilitate him.
St George Illawarra Dragons:
Can the young Dragons talent help push for a finals berth in 2022?
Prior to the barbecue incident, the Dragons were competing for a finals berth, but the subsequent suspensions resulted in a dip in the team’s form. However, the back end of the season also saw some impressive performances by the talented Dragons rookies. Hopefully withstanding any external issues, the Dragons can see themselves return to the finals arena.
Can the young talents in Sam Walker and Joseph Suaalii hold up physically to stay fit this year?
Physically we saw both these two young talents succumb to injuries. Off season reports suggest they have both put on muscle and their experience in first grade should benefit them in 2022.
New Zealand Warriors:
Can Shaun Johnsons return home provide some much-needed spark to the Warriors?Despite a talented roster, the Warriors scored the third lowest points as a team. The emergence of Reece Walsh was a bright spot for the team in 2021, but synergy with Shaun Johnson should see the Warriors rise in 2022.
Will the Tigers start building for 2023 with new rookies?
The acquisitions of Apisai Koroisau and Isaiah Papalii’I in 2023 will see a significantly stronger Tigers outfit. The loss of Adam Doueihi who was arguably their best player last year for most of this season is devastating and the Tigers look set to turn their fortunes around with the return of Tim Sheens and some exciting signings.