finals, predicted ladder, top eight, Manly Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels, South Sydney Rabbitohs, missing finals, Canberra Raiders, Cronulla Sharks, Newcastle Knights


It’s tough enough to have one winning season in the NRL let alone doing it year after year in the world’s best rugby league competition.

Every year, on average, three clubs drop out of the top eight which means that finals feature three teams who watched from home 12 months earlier.

There are only a handful of NRL clubs this century who have managed to play finals consistently.

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Craig Bellamy’s Storm, Trent Robinson’s Roosters and Wayne Bennett’s Broncos are the only sides to have played finals in seven straight seasons in the past 25 years.

Every other club has ebbed and flowed with varying degrees of success.

Here looks at the teams who are most likely to move in and out of the top eight in 2024.


Manly Sea Eagles

The Sea Eagles finally have all the pieces to the puzzle after moving Josh Shuster into the forwards and signing former Dally M Halfback of the year Luke Brooks.

Tom Trbojevic has returned from injury and the superstar fullback was in great touch against the Rabbitohs in a historic season-opening win in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Manly’s whole spine was on fire in Sin City with Brooks, Trbojevic, Daly Cherry-Evans and Lachlan Croker all in the thick of the action.

It’s promising signs early for Anthony Seibold’s men but it’s worth remembering they won the $100,000 Pre-season Challenge last year before finishing a disappointing 12th.

But if the Sea Eagles can stay healthy this year, there’s a top eight spot ripe for the picking and potentially even a top four berth.

It was a busy off-season for Sebiold, with Brooks joining the club alongside fellow recruits Tommy Talau (Tigers), Jaxson Paulo (Roosters), Corey Waddell (Bulldogs) and Aitasi James (Tigers).

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 02: Luke Brooks of the Sea Eagles runs the ball during the round one NRL match between Manly Sea Eagles and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allegiant Stadium, on March 02, 2024, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 02: Luke Brooks of the Sea Eagles runs the ball during the round one NRL match between Manly Sea Eagles and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allegiant Stadium, on March 02, 2024, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Parramatta Eels

The Eels have played finals in six of the past eight seasons, including a trip to the grand final where they ran into the 2022 Panthers who were one of the greatest teams of the modern era.

Brad Arthur boasts one of the best halves combinations in the NRL with representative stars Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown pulling the strings.

Parramatta endured plenty of bad luck and distractions last year, with everything from injuries to prolonged contract negotiations to suspensions for incidents both on and off the field.

It started with the Ryan Matterson suspension fiasco before gun backrower Shaun Lane copped a series of injuries that restricted him to just a handful of games.

Dylan Brown earning himself a five-match ban for a drunken incident certainly didn’t help the cause and several more of the Eels’ best players were unavailable through the Origin period.

But despite all that they still finished just one win outside the top eight and are primed for a return to finals football in 2024 if they can keep their best players on the park.


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South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Rabbitohs became the first team in NRL history to sit on top of the ladder after 11 rounds and then miss the finals.

The second half of the season was a slow-motion train wreck as their best player, Latrell Mitchell, mostly watched injured from the sidelines.

Then in the blink of an eye the chaos hit lightspeed and things hit the proverbial fan ahead of their final game of the regular season.

Souths legend Sam Burgess walked out on the club – in his role as an assistant coach – in protest of star players like Mitchell getting special treatment.

The Bunnies lost in the final round to their arch rivals the Roosters and the historic collapse was complete with coach Jason Demetriou facing a long off-season of wondering what the hell just happened.

But Demetriou has signed former Dally M Medal winner Jack Wighton (Raiders) and big man Sean Keppie (Sea Eagles) to bolster his already star-studded squad.

The Rabbitohs lost their season opener on Sunday but Mitchell looked sensational at times and they still have several stars to come into the side.

Barring major injuries to their most important players, it’s hard to see this squad capitulating again in 2024.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 02: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs is tackled during the round one NRL match between Manly Sea Eagles and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allegiant Stadium, on March 02, 2024, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Special mention: Gold Coast Titans.

The Titans’ new coach Des Hasler will have this squad knocking on the door of finals football. If they can finally learn to defend for 80 minutes then there’s more than enough talent in their attack to crack the top eight.


Canberra Raiders

These are the type of articles that Ricky Stuart tapes to the change room walls, but let’s be honest – the Raiders were lucky to make the eight in 2023.

They had the fourth-worst points differential (-137) in the competition and only scraped into finals after the Rabbitohs capitulated.

Canberra became the first team in NRL history to have a winning record and a points differential worse than -100.

Now they’ve lost 2020 Dally M Medal winner Jack Wighton to Souths and haven’t managed to recruit any big names.

Kaeo Weekes struggled to break into Manly’s top 17 over the past two seasons and now he’s in position to take Wighton’s No. 6 jersey.

Corey Horsburgh and Hudson Young made their Origin debuts last year but neither are locks to be picked in 2024 and the Green Machine could easily go unrepresented this year.

The Raiders secret weapon is their coach but getting this squad to the finals might even be beyond Stuart at his motivational best.

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Newcastle Knights

Everybody loved watching Newcastle’s first 10-game winning streak in over two decades last year, but all good things come to an end – and usually abruptly in the NRL.

The issue for the Knights is that of their 15 wins last season, only four came against sides that finished in the top eight and their squad is weaker in 2024.

They’ve lost the man who broke the club’s single-season try-scoring record (25) last year, Dom Young, to the Roosters.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon proved a revelation in the second row last season but he has joined the Super League to play under Sam Burgess at Warrington.

Veteran utility Kurt Mann departed for the Bulldogs and Lachie Miller – who was all the hype in 2022 – is now playing in the UK for Leeds.

They’ve signed Nathan Cleary’s backup in Penrith Jack Cogger and promising English duo Kai Pearce-Paul and Will Pryce.

But it’s hard to see this roster making the top eight, especially considering the club is now playing with the weight of expectation.

Kalyn Ponga of the Knights. GettySource: Getty Images

Cronulla Sharks

The Sharks slid from second on the ladder in 2022 to sixth last season. Now two of their most reliable players in 2023 are gone and they haven’t been replaced.

Wade Graham has retired and the Bulldogs poached rising star Connor Tracey, while veteran playmaker Matt Moylan left for the Super League.

Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon owns an unwanted 0-3 record in finals after his men failed to fire in September for the past two years.

The club’s best player – 2022 Dally M Medal winner Nicho Hynes – suffered a form slump following his NSW axing and it almost cost his side a finals spot.

Results under Fitzgibbon show the Sharks are on a downward trajectory and after only adding Billy Burns (Dragons), Michael Gabrael (Bulldogs to their squad, we’re predicting they miss the finals for just the second time in a decade. predicted ladder:

1. Panthers

2. Broncos

3. Roosters

4. Storm

5. Rabbitohs

6. Sea Eagles

7. Warriors

8. Titans

9. Eels

10. Sharks

11. Dolphins

12. Cowboys

13. Knights

14. Dragons

15. Raiders

16. Bulldogs

17. Tigers


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