2024 NRL Jerseys
55 days ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
Andrew Ferguson takes a statistical look at the 2024 NRL Draw, which was released earlier today.
The 2024 NRL Season will open in Las Vegas with a double header. Manly and Souths will get the season underway, followed by the Roosters and Broncos on Sunday March 3.
The rest of the opening Round will be completed the following weekend.
Here though, we will look at a few of the many variables that will determine the difficulty of each sides draw.
Home Ground advantage is something that can help most teams to a better performance, so it could be argued that the smart tactic would be to play strong teams on ones home turf, to ensure the most competitive result and improves one's chance of success. Alternatively, teams could use this advantage to rack up some cheap wins, so to speak.
8 of the 17 NRL sides will play at home against both of the 2023 NRL Grand Finalists: Manly, Melbourne, Newcastle, North Queensland, Parramatta, Souths, Sydney and the Warriors. On the flip side, the Bulldogs will be the only team who won't play at home against either Premiers Penrith or Runners-up Brisbane.
Manly will be the only team to play at home against all of the top 8 sides from 2023. Premiers Penrith will play just 3 home games against top 8 sides, which could mean their recent dominance at home could be continued in 2024. They've won 49, Drawn 1 and Lost 6 of their last 56 games at home since mid-2019.
Cronulla, Newcastle, Parramatta, Penrith and the Roosters will all play home games against each of the bottom 3 sides in 2024, while the Titans, Manly and the Wests Tigers will play just 1 home game against the 3 cellar-dweller outfits from 2023.
Home Draw difficulty (ordered from hardest to easiest)
The Dolphins and Bulldogs are the only sides to hit the road to play all of the top 4 sides, while the Warriors will only travel to Melbourne for their sole game against the other top 3 sides. The Bulldogs road draw will see them play against all of the top 8 sides, with Penrith also playing all of the other top 8 sides away from their home.
Manly and the Sharks will only play 4 games away from home against top 8 sides. They will also play away from home against all of the bottom 3 sides in 2024, as will the Cowboys, Titans, Dolphins and Raiders
Away Draw difficulty (ordered from hardest to easiest)
A simple system was used here, by giving each team a value, which was their ladder position at the end of the 2023 NRL regular season. The combined ladder position for each team's Away games against all opponents was subtracted from the same for home games. This method was used because of the argument that it's harder to win away from home, so if a team is playing harder opposition away from home, then at home, they would theoretically have a very hard draw.
As you can see in the below table, the Bulldogs very favourbale home draw and most difficult away draw means they comfortably have the hardest draw in the NRL for 2024 with Penrith and not too far behind. The next 14 teams are relatively even as far as draw difficulty is concerned and Manly comfortably has the softest draw, as it's almost a near reversal of the Bulldogs.
|Team||Home v Opp Rank||Away v Opp Rank||Difficulty|
|St Geo Illa||117||105||12|
Or, given the fact that clubs have a lot of input on how their draws will be shaped, perhaps it could be argued that the Bulldogs are the dumbest club and Manly are the smartest?
One thing is certain though. We will find out.