Fixture analysis: Ranking the best and worst NRL draws

Fresh from a 91st placed finish, the SC Spy takes a deep dive into the 2022 NRL draw, analysing each club's fixtures.

Key Analysis NRL Pre Season

G’day Troops,

As part of SC Playbook’s pre-season analysis I am going to deep dive into the opening fixtures so we can determine which teams (and relevant Supercoach players) have the best opening run and which teams/players have the toughest.

This will be based on SC points conceded across the board last season. All of this data is courtesy of the great crew at

I have based the below rankings purely based on total Supercoach points conceded during 2021.

The table is most points conceded down to the least points conceded (no prizes for guessing that this is Melbourne and Penrith).

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Supercoach Points Conceded per player/per game in 2021

  1. North Queensland Cowboys – 72.80PPG
  2. Canterbury Bulldogs – 71.20PPG
  3. Brisbane Broncos – 68.00PPG
  4. Wests Tigers – 68.00PPG
  5. NZ Warriors – 65.60PPG
  6. St George Dragons – 65.60PPG
  7. Newcastle Knights – 64.80PPG
  8. Canberra Raiders – 64.80PPG
  9. Cronulla Sharks – 63.20PPG
  10. Gold Coast Titans – 62.4PPG
  11. Parramatta Eels – 61.60PPG
  12. Sydney Roosters – 61.60PPG
  13. Manly Sea Eagles – 57.60PPG
  14. South Sydney Rabbitohs – 56.80PPG
  15. Penrith Panthers – 54.40PPG
  16. Melbourne Storm – 51.20PPG
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My Rankings

What we can do to help break this down with regard to the opening weeks is give a rating of 5 to the worst offender and the standout defensive turnstiles of 2021 and a 0 to the brick walls of the competition.

  • In this instance I will single out the Cowboys with a rating of 5 as I think the Dog and Broncos have potential to improve based on acquisitions in the off-season, so they will be 1 tier better on my ratings scale.
  • A rating of 4 will go to the Bulldogs, Broncos and Tigers.
  • A rating of 3 to teams from NZ Warriors through to the GC Titans.
  • A 2 rating from Parramatta to Souths.
  • A rating of 0 for Penrith and Melbourne. I am making them 0 because they are simply that good, I think the ratings need to reflect that.

Note – The Roosters could be real improvers with the cavalry returning, and with the middle sides of the competition anything could happen, but we will just have to wait and see.

From here we can apply the rating for each opposition to the opening rounds and see who has the best and worst early season runs.

Obviously anything can happen in a new season so you need to tread carefully, but it may be useful in making 50-50 decisions and targeting a few early PODs (or anti-pods!).

I have ranked the schedule below from best schedule to worst (most ranking points is the best draw/whilst least points equals the worst draw).

I have also included some key notes relevant to specific players or other key points I think are important, including a look ahead to additional rounds for some of the teams with multiple key SC options.

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Schedule Rank

Best schedule = Tier 1 down

Worst schedule = Tier 6

Tier 1

NZ Warriors – Dragons, Titans, Tigers, Broncos, Cowboys – 19

Note – What an absolute dream draw! No super tough opponents stand out.

Huge for SJ if you can trust his body, new combinations and whether he kicks when Walsh returns.

That’s a big question! Fantastic for Curran, one of my pre season favourites, and handy for any other Warriors you have in mind, especially attackers.

Tier 1.5

Nth Qld Cowboys – Bulldogs, Raiders, Broncos, Roosters, Warriors – 16

Note – Not sure I can trust many Cowboys, but at least the draw is good if you are taking the punt!

Hammer (Tabuai-Fidow) playing FB and available at centre? Whilst they are ranked the same in points as the below team their draw is better for mine, so they get a stand alone tier.

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Tier 2

Brisbane Broncos – Rabbits, Bulldogs, Cowboys, Warriors, Roosters – 16

Note – A good opening draw mixed with a couple of tougher ones. New combinations must be noted. Tesi Niu has talent! A close watch early…

Roosters – Knights, Sea Eagles, Rabbits, Cowboys, Broncos – 16

Note – It’s pretty decent, but there are a couple of potentially tougher games in weeks 2 and 3. Either way if we look ahead to the opening nine weeks it’s a really good draw and Teddy could do damage in multiple games. A tick for the Chooks but possibly better to eye some round 4 trade ins if you don’t want to start with them.

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Cronulla Sharks – Raiders, Eels, Dragons, Knights, Tigers – 15

Note – I like it. Certainly more than Melbourne below despite having the same rating based on opponents. New combinations though. Again, tough to trust but could be some value PODs.

Melbourne Storm – Tigers, Rabbits, Eels, Bulldogs, Raiders – 15

Note – Looking closely there is potential for Rabbitohs, Eels and Raiders all to be quite stiff!

Like a lot of the teams the toughness of draw can be hard to predict. But you have to be happy enough with this draw if selecting Melbourne players and there are a plethora of options and much like the Chooks in rounds 6-9 are really good so only rounds 2 and 3 look potentially tougher at this stage.

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Tier 3

Titans – Eels, Warriors, Raiders, Tigers, Eels – 14

Note – This draw will depend a lot on how the Eels show up as they play them twice. But there is no elite defences so it’s a decent enough draw. David Fifita is going to be a major question for coaches as long as he starts!

Penrith Panthers – Sea Eagles, Dragons, Knights, Rabbitohs, Bulldogs – 14

Note – There are some big guns in the defending premiers and their draw looks okay. It’s neither horrific nor great, but I’d lean towards it being better than it is bad.

I’m happy enough to start Cleary if he’s healthy. Looking further ahead, Rounds 6-8 I quite like meaning Penrith players can be pretty well set-and-forget from the beginning if you fancy them!

Canberra Raiders – Sharks, Cowboys, Titans, Sea Eagles, Storm – 13

Note – Another decent start but a very tricky rounds 4 and 5 need to be noted. What will the Green Machine produce in 2022? I would sit back and wait as a general rule, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a Raider to begin with, just riskier.

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Tier 4

Parramatta Eels – Titans, Sharks, Storm, Dragons, Titans – 12

Note – Again, much depends on the Titans here with a matchup in rounds 1 and 5. If they are leaky this draw becomes very good outside of the Storm. If the Titans are tough and resolute then it becomes a lot trickier of a start. Really hard to call it to be honest, but Tier 4 of 6 seems about right.

Tigers – Storm, Knights, Warriors, Titans, Sharks – 12

Note – Jackson Hastings springs to mind here as an attacking option. Once they get through round 1 I really don’t mind the draw to be honest but that could be a very tough round 1! It’ll help that Smith/Munster/Grant will be missing for Melbourne.

There is an option to pick Hastings on the bench and bring him on field if he looks okay, or ride it out if necessary and hope his base gets him through and he then kicks on.

A player analysis will follow if I can get hold of the Super League stats, but overall I don’t actually mind the Tigers draw all that much with Round 1 being the downer.

Manly Sea Eagles – Penrith, Roosters, Bulldogs, Raiders, Knights – 12

Note – A really tough two weeks and when you consider Turbo is $1.2m it makes it hard to go there!

It starts to open up after that so take a close look at his breakeven heading into round 3. Hopefully its about 250+! Then it’s all about timing. They have the Titans and Sharks in Rounds 6 & 7, which means that from round 3 on things look pretty good! Round 9 and 10 are also good and for me an early look suggests Tommy in Round 6 for a Saturday arvo game at Brookie would be very nice.

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Tier 5

Newcastle – Roosters, West Tigers, Penrith, Sharks, Sea Eagles – 11

Note – The draw is starting to get pretty difficult now we hit Tier 5, but it’s far from a disaster. Be aware three of the five rounds for Newcastle may not be easy. I couldn’t take Ponga to start given this fact and with last year’s injuries in the back of the mind, but he is a very close watch because I’m expecting a huge season! Does he potentially move to 5-8 also and become available in the halves for Supercoach? A bit to unfold.

Canterbury Bulldogs – Cowboys, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Storm, Penrith – 11

Note – A super opening two weeks but then it gets incredible hard. Add in new combinations and I’ll be steering clear unless you really like someone or they are well undervalued. Burton is a no to begin with for me despite a potentially good opening fortnight.

St George Dragons – Warriors, Penrith, Sharks, Eels, Rabbits – 10

Note – To be honest the rating of 10 here is a little deceptive. I don’t think the draw is horrific because the Eels aren’t a sure thing to be a brickwall early (though I think they will be decent enough) and there is the opportunity to score well against the Warriors and Sharks.

If Amone starts I’m pretty interested. You can potentially play him in rounds 1 and 3 and sit him for the other rounds. Looking further ahead you can maybe play him in four of the first eight rounds. Essentially there is a lot of variety in the St George draw and it would worry me picking an expensive guy you need to play week in week out, but a cheaper prospect who you can sit and start pending opposition might be okay.

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Tier 6

South Sydney Rabbitohs – Brisbane, Storm, Roosters, Penrith, Dragons – 9  

Note – Round 1 might be okay, but then the next three are absolutely as hard as it gets. This generally scares me off Souths players who cost a lot, but similar to Amone above you could still pick guys like Illias and Taaffe pending selection and ideally not play them for the tougher weeks.

I won’t be going near Cody Walker to begin with, but he may well be excellent value after the opening month. Same goes for Latrell!

NZ Warriors1st BEST DRAW
Nth Qld Cowboys2nd
Brisbane Broncos3rd
Sydney Roosters4th
Cronulla Sharks5th
Melbourne Storm6th
Gold Coast Titans7th
Penrith Panthers8th
Canberra Raiders9th
Parramatta Eels10th
Wests Tigers11th
Manly Sea Eagles12th
Newcastle Knights13th
Canterbury Bulldogs14th
St George Dragons15th – Read Notes
South Sydney Rabbitohs16th WORST DRAW

The Sum Up

Thanks for reading legends, it’s bloody good to be back!

Use this article as guide when selecting teams, but above all you need to trust your gut and back yourself as there is nothing worse than getting talked out of a player you wanted who then goes out and dominates!

At the end of the day the draw isn’t everything, but it can be an excellent tie-breaker and give you a shot at some PODs who may have a good run or an anti-POD for someone with a really tough draw.

If in doubt, avoid players who match up against Melbourne and Penrith!!

Bring on the Footy and a cracking year ahead


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