NRL Previews, Predictions & Betting Tips

What is the NRL?

The National Rugby League (NRL) is a league of professional rugby league teams in Australia. The NRL is run by the Australian Rugby League Commission and the main competition is currently known as the Telstra Premiership.

What is the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership?

The 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership is contested by sixteen teams, fifteen which are based in Australia and one based in New Zealand. In terms of television viewers and match day attendances, the Telstra Premiership is the most popular rugby league club competition in the world.

The 16 team lineup for the 2019 NRL season will remain unchanged for the 13th consecutive season:

TeamHome Ground/s
Brisbane BroncosSuncorp Stadium
Canberra RaidersGIO Stadium
Canterbury-Bankstown BulldogsANZ Stadium & Belmore Sports Ground
Cronulla-Sutherland SharksSouthern Cross Group Stadium
Gold Coast TitansCbus Super Stadium
Manly-Warringah Sea EaglesLottoland
Melbourne StormAAMI Park
Newcastle KnightsMcDonald Jones Stadium
New Zealand WarriorsMt. Smart Stadium
North Queensland Cowboys1300SMILES Stadium
Parramatta EelsBankwest Stadium
Penrith PanthersPanthers Stadium
South Sydney RabbitohsANZ Stadium
St. George Illawarra DragonsJubilee Stadium & WIN Stadium
Sydney RoostersSydney Cricket Ground
Wests TigersLeichhardt Oval, Campbelltown Stadium & Bankwest Stadium

NRL History 

The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) ran the major rugby league competition in NSW from 1908 to 1994. The State of Origin series in the 1980s initiated an expansion of the NSWRL premiership with the addition of Canberra and Illawarra in 1982.

Further expansion occurred in 1988 with three more teams based outside Sydney; the Newcastle Knights, Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast-Tweed Giants.
In 1995 control of the competition passed from the NSWRFL to the Australian Rugby League (ARL). What followed was a bitter battle for control of the game which culminated in the Super League war. 

News Limited formed their own Super League and the ARL announced it was forming a new company to organise the competition. In 1998 the disputes were finally settled with the formation of the National Rugby League which was jointly owned by the ARL and News Limited.

The inaugural National Rugby League (NRL) season in 1998 consisted of 20 teams. Clubs that didn’t survive the merger were the Hunter Mariners, Perth Reds, South Queensland Crushers, Adelaide Rams and the Gold Coast Chargers.

The competition was reduced to 14 teams in 2000 which resulted in mergers. The St. George Dragons and the Illawarra Steelers were the first clubs to merge and became the St. George Illawarra Dragons at the end of the 1998 season.

Balmain and Western Suburbs formed the Wests Tigers at the end of 1999, with North Sydney and Manly Warringah joining forces as the Northern Eagles. South Sydney Rabbitohs were controversially dumped from the competition at the end of 1999 for failing to meet the criteria which created another division in the game.

On 12 November 2000 almost 80,000 people marched in protest and South Sydney challenged the decision in the Federal Court. Souths were eventually re-admitted into the competition in 2002.

south sydney reinstated
The South Sydney Rabbitohs were reinstated into the NRL in 2002 after a bitter fallout (Scott Barbour/ALLSPORT)

The Auckland Warriors collapsed as an organisation before being reborn as the New Zealand Warriors in 2001. The Warriors made the 2002 and 2011 Grand Finals where they lost on both occasions.

In 2001, telecommunications company Telstra bought the naming rights with the competition becoming the NRL Telstra Premiership. In 2003 the Manly Warringah Rugby League Football Club took over the NRL licence from the doomed Northern Eagles franchise after the financial bankruptcy of North Sydney.

The NRL competition experienced significant growth with crowd average records broken in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The 2006 NRL Grand Final was a milestone with two interstate teams contesting the grand final for the first time where the Brisbane Broncos defeated the Melbourne Storm 15-8.

In 2007 the Gold Coast Titans were admitted into the competition. Throughout 2008 the NRL celebrated 100 years since the introduction of rugby league into Australia and on 17 April 2008 the Team of the Century was announced, consisting of:

  • Full-back: Clive Churchill
  • Wingers: Ken Irvine, Brian Bevan
  • Centres: Reg Gasnier, Mal Meninga
  • Five-eighth: Wally Lewis
  • Half-back: Andrew Johns
  • Lock: John Raper
  • Second Row: Norm Provan, Ron Coote
  • Props: Arthur Beetson, Duncan Hall
  • Hooker: Noel Kelly
  • Reserves: Graeme Langlands, Dally Messenger, Bob Fulton, Frank Burge
  • Coach: Jack Gibson

In 2010 the Inaugural All Stars Match was held in conjunction with the Sorry Day reconciliation anniversary. It features an Aboriginal team called the Indigenous All Stars who compete against the NRL All Stars. It has been a tremendous success and is now a permanent fixture on the rugby league calendar.

In 2010 the NRL set a record total season average attendance of 17,367 per game and a record total season aggregate attendance of 3,490,778.
In 2012 the Australian Rugby League Commission assumed full control of all levels of the game.

The 2014 season started with the introduction of the Auckland Nines tournament. The 2014 Grand Final saw the South Sydney Rabbitohs break their 43-year premiership drought with a 30-6 victory over the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs. The 2016 saw the Cronulla Sharks defeat the Melbourne Storm 14-12 in the Grand Final to claim their first premiership in history, ending a 49-year drought. 

A national women's league was established in 2017 after the successful 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup. The first season started in September 2018 comprising four clubs aligned to existing NRL clubs.

When is the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership?

The 2019 NRL competition will be held from March 14 - October 6, 2019. The regular season is played over 25 weekends before the top eight clubs contest a final series which culminates with the NRL Grand Final. 

What is the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership Schedule?

What happened in the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership?

NRL premiers Melbourne Storm defeated the Super League champions Leeds Rhinos in the 2018 World Club Challenge. The competition was shortened to 25 rounds with each team receiving one 1 bye due to the second 2018 State of Origin series match played as a stand-alone fixture on a Sunday.

The top 8 were separated by just two points after the regular season with the Sydney Roosters awared the minor premiership due to a superior for and against. The Roosters finished on 34 points alongside the Melbourne Storm, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. The four teams that finished on 32 points to round up the top 8 were the Penrith Panthers, Brisbane Broncos, St. George Illawarra Dragons and New Zealand Warriors.

The New Zealand Warriors and Brisbane Broncos were eliminated the Elimination finals with the Penrith Panthers and St. George Illawarra Dragons falling in the Semi-finals. In the Preliminary finals Sydney Roosters defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 12-4 and Melbourne Storm beat Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 22-6 to advance to the Grand final.

roosters storm 2018 final
Sydney Roosters celebrate winning the 2018 NRL Grand Final vs Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium (Getty Images)

The 2018 NRL Grand Final was held on Sunday, 30 September  in front of 82,688 spectators at ANZ Stadium. Tries to Daniel Tupou, Latrell Mitchell and Joseph Manu gave the Sydney Roosters a commanding 18-0 half-time lead as they defeated the Melbourne Storm 21-6. Rossters five-eighth Luke Keary was awared the Clive Churchill Medal for the man of the match.

There were three major player records broken in 2018:

  • Jamayne Isaako scored the most points (239) in a rookie season, overtaking Mick Cronin who scored 225 points in 1977.
  • Gavin Cooper became the first forward in the 111 year history of the NRL to score a try in nine consecutive games, beating the previous record of eight set by Frank Burge in 1918.
  • Cameron Smith became the first hooker in NRL history to score 200 points in a single season.

Who has won the most NRL Premierships?

The most successful club in Australian rugby league history is the South Sydney Rabbitohs who have won 21 titles. St. George Dragons have won 15 times and hold the record for the most consecutive titles; 11 from 1956 to 1966.

The Sydney Roosters are next best with 14 with the Balmain Tigers winning on 11 occasions. The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles are tied on eight each with the Brisbane Broncos winning six NRL premierships since 1992.

Who are the favourites to win the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership?

The Sydney Roosters are the overwhelming favourites to retain their title after retaining the core of their roster. Coach Trent Robinson knows how to win and has a cast of top players in key positions such as Boyd Cordner, Angus Crichton, Cooper Cronk, Jake Friend, Luke Keary, Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs and Brisbane Broncos are next in line after a coaching switch saw Wayne Bennett move from Brisbane to South Sydney and Anthony Seibold move in the opposite direction.

Melbourne Storm, Penrith Panthers and St George Illawarra Dragons are next in line with the Cronulla Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys, Newcastle Knights, Canberra Raiders and Wests Tigers all given some hope.

The New Zealand Warriors, Parramatta Eels, Manly Sea Eagles, Gold Coast Titans and Canterbury Bulldogs are not expected to threaten for the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership.

What are the betting odds to win the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership?

Latest 2019 NRL Grand Final Winner Odds (correct at 28/2/19)

Sydney Roosters4.50
South Sydney Rabbitohs9.00
Brisbane Broncos9.00
Melbourne Storm9.00
Penrith Panthers11.00
St George Illawarra Dragons17.00
Cronulla Sharks17.00
North Queensland Cowboys17.00
Newcastle Knights21.00
Canberra Raiders26.00
Wests Tigers31.00
New Zealand Warriors34.00
Parramatta Eels41.00
Manly Sea Eagles51.00
Gold Coast Titans51.00
Canterbury Bulldogs61.00

Who were the recent NRL Telstra Premiership winners and runners-up?

The Sydney Roosters won the 2018 competition, becoming the fifth different team in five years to lift the trophy. Iin the last decade the Roosters and Melbourne Storm have both won twice, the Storm finishing runners-up on two occasions.

Recent NRL Premiers and Runners-up


2018Sydney RoostersMelbourne Storm
2017Melbourne StormNorth Queensland Cowboys
2016Cronulla-Sutherland SharksMelbourne Storm
2015North Queensland Cowboys
Brisbane Broncos
2014South Sydney RabbitohsCanterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
2013Sydney RoostersManly-Warringah Sea Eagles
2012Melbourne StormCanterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
2011Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
New Zealand Warriors
2010St George Illawarra DragonsSydney Roosters

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