Power Rankings, Round 2, analysis of every team, favourites for top eight, Roosters, James Tedesco, Cowboys, Valentine Holmes, Knights, Kalyn Ponga


The Roosters are back to being the team to beat after their comprehensive victory over the Broncos.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are back in contention after dominating the Dolphins and the Knights are in trouble after being thrashed by the Raiders.

Read on for the NRL Power Rankings ahead of Round 2.

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Renouf praises Mam for his strength | 00:51


Last week’s ranking: 3rd (up two spots)

Analysis: The Roosters made a statement with their convincing 20-10 win over the Broncos in Las Vegas to announce themselves as a title contender. The Roosters are notoriously slow starters, but they hit the ground running with a strong performance against last year’s grand finalists. James Tedesco is the heartbeat of the Tri-colours and when he is at his best the team invariably wins. With Brandon Smith looking much fitter and testing the line more with his running game, that will free up Sam Walker and Luke Keary to create opportunities for Tedesco, Joey Manu and Joseph Suaalii out wide. With a revamped attack matching their staunch defence the Roosters can contend for the title this season, but they need to be consistent starting with the Sea Eagles in Round 2.


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James Tedesco and the Roosters are back to title contenders.Source: Supplied


Last week’s ranking: 4th (up two spots)

Analysis: The Storm made a statement of their own to hold the three time premiers the Panthers scoreless in a 8-0 win to continue their undefeated Round 1 streak under Craig Bellamy. The Storm have the backline to match the best teams in attack even without Cameron Munster due to injury. The question was could their forward pack mix it with the likes of Penrith and they showed they have what it takes in the first round. The challenge now is to maintain it over the course of a long season starting with the Warriors in Round 2.


Last week’s ranking: 1st (down two spots)

Analysis: When you have won three titles in a row you don’t panic after one loss, but the manner of the Panthers’ 8-0 defeat to the Storm raised some concerns as Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai failed to create try-scoring opportunities. The Panthers missed Mitch Kenny due to suspension and Dylan Edwards was below his usual high standards at the back. Penrith will get back to their best as they nail down some new combinations, but based on the first game of the season some of the chasing pack may have closed the gap on them this off-season. They get the chance to get their season back on track against an Eels side that historically plays well against them in Round 2.


Last week’s ranking: 2nd (down two spots)

Analysis: The Broncos looked below their brilliant best from last season in their 20-10 opening round loss to the Roosters. Reece Walsh was kept quiet by some smart kicking tactics from the Roosters, while halves Adam Reynolds and Ezra Mam were below their own high standards from last season. Filling the voids left by Herbie Farnworth and Tom Flegler might mean some growing pains for the Broncos, but they were still strong in the trials and can get their season back on track with a win over the struggling Rabbitohs at home to kick off Round 2.

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‘The game has failed’ – JT slams NRL | 00:59


Last week’s ranking: 9th (up four spots)

Analysis: Manly came back from 10 points down to beat Souths 36-24 in an impressive first up win in Las Vegas. Luke Brooks was strong in a try-scoring debut for his new club and he looks set to form an exciting combination with Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans in 2024. Haumole Olakau’atu picked up where he left off last season and looks set to take his game to even greater heights. Anthony Seibold’s side still have work to do on their defence if they want to contend for the title and they get another stern test of their credentials in Round 2 against the Roosters.


Last week’s ranking: 7th (up one spot)

Analysis: The Eels’ bid to avenge missing the finals last year got off to a strong start with a convincing 26-8 win over arch rivals the Bulldogs. The Eels’ nucleus is back together with Dylan Brown and Shaun Lane controlling the left edge and Mitchell Moses and Bryce Cartwright dominating on the right with the latter scoring a double in Round 1. Morgan Harper and Kelma Tuilagi have added some much needed depth in the centres and the back row. Joey Lussick also showed he could be the answer to their No.9 dilemma, but the challenge now is to show consistency against their bitter rivals the Panthers in Round 2.


Last week’s ranking: 8th (up one spot)

Analysis: The Cowboys were one of the most impressive teams from Round 1 to thrash the Dolphins 43-18 and go top of the table. The Dolphins were poor defensively, but the Cowboys looked slick led by new skipper Tom Dearden and new centre Zac Laybutt, who was exceptional on the edge. Jeremiah Nanai also looked back to his best in the second row as was Valentine Holmes in his trademark roaming role. Todd Payten’s side can cement top spot with a big win over the Knights at home in Round 2.

The Cowboys were on fire against the Dolphins.Source: Getty Images


Last week’s ranking: 12th (up four spots)

Analysis: The Sharks looked all at sea down 12-0 before storming back to beat the Warriors 16-12 in Round 1. Tom Hazleton was the only Sharks forward to run over 100 metres, but their back five led by Jesse Ramien, Siosifa Talakai and Ronaldo Mulitalo were exceptional. Nicho Hynes, Braydon Trindall and William Kennedy all need to show more in attack, but if the Sharks can maintain the rage defensively they can be a dark hourse this season. Cronulla can cement their top eight spot with a big win over the Bulldogs at home in Round 2.


Last week’s ranking: 6th (down three spots)

Analysis: The Warriors looked to have continued on their stunning form from last year to lead 12-0, but imploded to lose to the Sharks 16-12 on home soil. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck looked dangerous at centre and Luke Metcalf was strong at five-eighth, but Shaun Johnson needs to show much more in attack like he did last year. Addin Fonua-Blake shows no signs of slowing down before his switch to the Sharks in 2025, but the Warriors will be hunted this season and the challenge is to be up for the fight every single week starting with the Storm in Round 2.

Cleary labels Panthers “little brother” | 00:53


Last week’s ranking: 5th (down five spots)

Analysis: The Rabbitohs were undermanned in their season opening 36-24 loss to the Sea Eagles, but some worrying signs that plagued them last year will be keeping Jason Demetriou up at night. Souths can’t simply rely on the brilliance of Latrell Mitchell to get them out of trouble and they need more form their halves Cody Walker and Lachlan Ilias. But if Souths want to be serious contenders in 2024 they need to address their ball control and defence and they get a huge test in Round 2 against the Broncos at Suncorp.


Last week’s ranking: 15th (up four spots)

Analysis: The Raiders proved they won’t be a spent force without Jack Wighton with a convincing 28-12 win over the Knights. Ethan Strange showed he has plenty of potential at five-eighth, while Jamal Fogarty looks to have come of age as he takes ownership of the side’s attack, especially with his kicking game. Danny Levi looked solid at hooker and Zac Hosking could be one of the buys of the year in the back row. With Seb Kris still to return, the Raiders’ could be a dark horse for the top eight this year, but they may struggle if their depth is tested, particularly in the spine. They get a great chance to cement their top four spot against the Tigers at home in Round 2.

Ciraldo ‘proud’ of new dogs despite loss | 02:22


Last week’s ranking: 16th (up four spots)

Analysis: Tipped by many experts to finish in the bottom two again this year, the Dragons were one of the most impressive teams in Round 1, in their 28-4 win over the Titans. Gold Coast were nowhere near their best, but the Dragons showed the commitment and grit in defence and the enterprise in attack that went sadly missing last year. Tyrell Sloan had one of the best games of his career with a stunning hat-trick and Kyle Flanagan showed he has more potential as an NRL half than he showed at the Bulldogs. If the Dragons can run up a big score against the Dolphins in Round 2 they could be on top of the table.


Last week’s ranking: 10th (down three spots)

Analysis: It was always going to be hard for the Knights to maintain their stunning finish to last season that saw them win 11 games on the trot, but they were very disappointing in their first up 28-12 home loss to the Raiders. Jack Cogger impressed off the bench and surely Adam O’Brien has to start thinking about playing him in the halves, with Tyson Gamble likely to make way. Kalyn Ponga can’t be expected to carry the load in attack every week and the Knights need other playmakers to create for Bradman Best and Dane Gagai on the edges. With a tough assignment against the Cowboys in Townsville in Round 2, the Knights could be looking at an 0-2 start to the season.

The Knights struggled despite Kalyn Ponga’s brilliance.Source: Getty Images


Last week’s ranking: 14th (no movement)

Analysis: After 11 changes to the squad in the off-season hopes were high heading into their second campaign under Cameron Ciraldo, but the early signs were not promising in their 26-8 loss to the Eels. The Bulldogs may have improved their defence and versatility by signing a number of hard working utility players, but they still lack the star players in the key positions of halfback, five-eighth and fullback. Matt Burton is being stifled at No.6 and needs to switch to the centres to rediscover his running game, while Toby Sexton looks a far better option at halfback than Drew Hutchison. The Bulldogs face the Sharks in the Shire in Round 2, so things could get worse before they get better.


Last week’s ranking: 11th (down four spots)

Analysis: The Titans were one of the biggest disappointments in Round 1 surrendering to the Dragons 28-4 in a horror display. All the talk in the off-season was of new coach Des Hasler fixing their leaky defence and their attack would take care of itself, but they were very poor on both sides of the ball against the Dragons. They clearly missed Kieran Foran in attack and the jury is still out on Tanah Boyd being the answer to their halfback woes. AJ Brimson can make an excellent centre, but with Jayden Campbell injured he should be the No.1. The Titans have the bye in Round 2 before a must win clash with the Bulldogs in Round 3 or it could be a long year.

Big cloud over Sua’ali’i Rugby move? | 00:47


Last week’s ranking: 17th (up one spot)

Analysis: The Tigers had the bye in Round 1 and their two competition points sees them in ninth place on the ladder, but we won’t know how far they have come under Benji Marshall until they face the Raiders on Saturday afternoon in their season opener. The Tigers beat an undermanned Warriors in the pre-season, before being trounced by the Dragons, so the jury is still out on their rebuild. The Dolphins’ woes sees the Tigers climb off the bottom of the Power Rankings for now, but it could be a momentary break if the Raiders put them to the sword in Round 2.


Last week’s ranking: 13th (down four spots)

Analysis: The Dolphins were the most disappointing team of Round 1 after they conceded eight tries in their 43-18 loss to the Cowboys, including six in the first half alone. Given the Tigers didn’t play because of the bye, that puts Wayne Bennett’s side dead last on the Power Rankings. There was great optimism the Dolphins could turn around their horror defence after signing Broncos pair Herbie Farnworth and Tom Flegler, but there appears to be more holes defensively than those two can fix on their own. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow had a shocker at fullback and the Dolphins need more from their halves. But if they don’t fix their leaky defence starting against the Dragons in Round 2 it could be a long year.


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