THE FOOTY IS BACK!!
Round 1 was good and Round 2 immediately felt weird, and while I was initially fine with a small break in play, it didn’t take long for me (and literally everyone else) to realise how much the NRL was missed.
Eight weeks on, a few notable moves and a completely revitalised, re-structured competition, and we’re ready for NRL Round 3!
You can find a preview for each game and my 2020 NRL Round 3 tips below.
An interesting game to restart the season will see the Broncos host the Eels in Brisbane.
We all know what happened the last time that the Broncos played the Eels in front of virtually none of their own fans but for the sake of the Brisbane faithful who have landed on this article, your side lost 58-0.
A lot has changed since then however and I am more than happy to say that there is no way that score line will materialise again on Thursday night.
Both clubs enter this match undefeated in the 2020 season and while the Eels do sit on top of the table thanks to their for and against, I think it’s also fair to say the Broncos have had the harder draw so far.
It’s always difficult to analyse what is essentially a new season beginning but at equal quotes, I’ll be happy to be with the home side.
Its been a cruel twist of fate that the Cows haven’t been able to utilise their new stadium properly, but it’s been tough for everyone and they’ll be confident in their chances of knocking off the Gold Coast Titans (proudly sponsored by Neds) on Friday night.
The arrival of Valentine Holmes was seen by many as a Thurston-like get for the Cows, but people like me were proven correct when he had virtually no impact at all.
There’s no doubt he’ll be outstanding, but he hasn’t played league for a few years and is surely lacking a big of confidence after failing to match what Jarryd Hayne did in the NFL.
As much as we’d like to, there’s really no hiding from two performances that have so-far been mustered by the Neds Titans this year.
They were up against it immediately when the Eels pulled into town in Round 2 and they barely had an answer.
In saying that, I think they are a team that will have relished the extra two months under new coach Justin Holbrook and because I really do not rate the Cows, I’m eager to back the Titans to cover the line as outsiders.
Just can’t wait for this one.
The league’s oldest and perhaps most famed rivalry will be reignited in Sydney on Friday night and incredibly, the winless Roosters have opened the $1.36 favourites.
They have won the last two Premierships and I would be extremely confident in suggesting that’s why they’ve been priced as such short favourites, but they’ve also made a habit of being extremely slow from the blocks, underlined this year already.
Souths are yet to gel, but they were too good for the Sharks first up and only just lost to the Broncos in Brisbane in Round 2.
While no team has had a large amount of all-in training, I think they’re another club that will have taken benefit from the time off and I think they’ll be ready to play.
Back Souths at the line if you’re not as confident as me, but I am more than happy to take the big price for them as they outsiders.
The homeless Warriors will begin their new life against the Dragons on Saturday afternoon, in what shapes as one of the more interesting contests of Round 3.
The Warriors are another club that failed to make anything of an impact in Rounds 1 & 2, comfortably beaten by both the Knights and Raiders.
They are a team that always promises a lot on paper and never lives up to the hype, and given the enormous job that they have now been tasked with in 2020, it’s tough imagining that changing too much.
The Dragons lost to the Tigers and then lost to the Panthers, but to be fair to them, the latter could have fallen either way.
They are also a club that boasts and outstanding roster on paper and while I also think they might struggle this season, I think they’ll just be too good in Round 3.
Another quality contest looks like materialising between the Sharks and the Tigers on Saturday evening, particularly now that Cronulla will be without the speedy Bronson Xerri.
The Xerri thing been widely covered and I don’t need to touch on it more than that. We’re here to find and ultimately back a few winners.
What does remain is a couple of clubs eager to record a first-up win from the break, particularly the Sharks, who were unable to record a win from their first two runs.
With everything that has happened off the field this week, I think they’ll be eager to respond in a big way.
I actually thought that there was a bit to like about what Wests did in the first couple of weeks, and they are another club that will surely have taken benefit from a bit of rest time. They are over the odds as outsiders and I’m happy to have something small on.
Saturday night will host the match of the round and an exciting showdown between the ever-dangerous Melbourne Storm, and last season’s runners up the Canberra Raiders.
It is more than fair to say that the Storm have been the league’s benchmark since around 2006.
Sure, the Roosters have won the last two Premierships, but the Storm’s ability to stay in the Top 4 sides for as long as they have is truly remarkable. It’s for that reason alone that in contests like this one, I always find myself siding with them. Nothing beats experience.
The Raiders are two from two leading into this but have faced only the Titans and the Warriors. This is an enormous rise in class for them and first-up from the spell, I think they might be found out a little.
Another two, perhaps surprise undefeated sides will square off in Sunday’s first match.
The Panthers proved too good for the reigning premiers in Round 1 and while that opponent has seemingly become an early-season easy beat, they proved that it was no fluke with another classy Round 2 display and win over the Dragons, away from home.
They’ll have as much momentum as is humanly possible off a two-month layoff and will surely be confident in their chances against the Knights.
The Knights were also impressive in Rounds 1 & 2.
They never looked in doubt when the Warriors rolled into town, while they weathered a spirited fight from the Tigers and were again far too good.
In my opinion, this game should be priced at $1.90 a side and with the addition of 260-game veteran Andrew McCullough, I can’t understand how the Knights are the outsiders.
The first round of the new-age NRL draws to a close on the Central Coast on Sunday, when the Sea Eagles host a Dogs side that can perhaps best be described as ‘just awful’.
Manly began their season with a disappointing loss to the old enemy Melbourne but followed in the Panthers’ footsteps with a lovely win over the Premiers. A repeat of either performance would be too good for Canterbury to deal with.
As those first two scathing sentences would suggest, I have virtually no good things to say about Canterbury this year.
They barely pulled themselves onto the field when sustaining losses to the Eels and Cowboys, the latter particularly damning when considering the Cows also weren’t good.
Manly would really have to drop the ball to lose this.