Mutley’s mid-season assessment

I was started this season thinking there might be a bit of a premiership hangover. With the loss of Burton, Capewell & Momirovski, plus Cleary missing the start of the season, I thought the Panthers might have been a bit slow out of the blocks. Add on early injuries to To’o & Leota, and the Panthers had plenty of excuses to start slow. They have proven me wrong, and barely missed a beat over the opening half of the season, with several young players stepping up & filling the void. Their only loss seems to have awakened the beast, with Panthers thumping 3 other top sides since. The scary thing is that while their defence is about as good as it can be, their attack can get better. An ominous warning for the rest of the competition.

Original prediction: 3rd/Premiers
Current position: 1st
Revised prediction: 1st/Premiers

The Storm looked impressive early on, with blistering attack. Injuries to Papenhuyzen & Hughes brought them back to the pack, but make no mistake, at full strength they are still the most dangerous team in the competition.

Original prediction: 4th/Preliminary finalists
Current position: 2nd
Revised prediction: 3rd/Runners Up

Probably the biggest surprise of the season. I had them battling for the spoon before the season started, and even a month or so ago I was still questioning their credentials. They are playing a good brand of footy, and will be there at the business end of the season

Original prediction: 15th
Current position: 3rd
Revised prediction: 4th/Semi Finalists

I predicted big improvement from the Broncos this year, but they have already exceeded my expectations. The way they have been playing the last 4-6 weeks is where I was expecting them to be at the back end of the season.

Original prediction: 8th/Qualifying Finalists
Current position: 4th
Revised prediction: 7th/Semi Finalists

The Eels finished last year strong, and talked a big game in the off season. They have been brilliant in some games, but woeful in others. If they can find some consistency they can challenge for the premiership.

Original prediction: 1st/Runners Up
Current position: 5th
Revised prediction: 2nd/Preliminary Finalists

The Roosters have been inconsistent so far, but have the players & experience to mount a serious challenge in the back end of the season. Write them off at your own peril.

Original prediction: 2nd/Preliminary Finalists
Current position: 6th
Revised prediction: 5th/Preliminary Finalists

I said before the season began that the Sharks had the players to make the finals, but how far they go would depend on their coach. I stand by that statement. The addition of Hynes & Finucane has given them the direction & leadership they lacked at times last year, and they are plodding along nicely. Probably a year away from seriously challenging.

Original prediction: 6th/Semi Finalists
Current position: 7th
Revised prediction: 6th/Qualifying Finalists

The loss of Bennett & Reynolds was always going to be a big challenge for them to overcome. They have looked good at times, but lose their way at times too.

Original prediction: 7th/Qualifying Finalists
Current position: 8th
Revised prediction: 8th/Qualifying Finalists

The Dragons have shown considerable improvement so far, but still seem to be a step behind the top sides. May challenge for finals, but will probably make a quick exit if they do make it.

Original prediction: 13th
Current position: 9th
Revised prediction: 10th

It’s hard to know what to make of the Raiders. On their day the are hard to beat, but sometimes they are ordinary. I started the year saying they were the most likely of my predicted bottom 8 to prove me wrong & make the finals, and it is probably how I would still rate them.

Original prediction: 9th
Current position: 10th
Revised prediction: 9th

Sea Eagles
Manly are probably the biggest disappointment of the season for me. I had them on the verge of a top 4 finish again, and have been ordinary so far. The loss of Tom Trbojevic for the season pretty much snuffs out any chance of them making the finals from here.

Original prediction: 5th/Semi Finalists
Current position: 11th
Revised prediction: 12th

I didn’t hold high hopes for the Warriors before the season started, and they haven’t even been performing to those low standards. I get the feeling there are problems behind closed doors, and they are on the edge of the precipice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them freefall to the bottom from here.

Original prediction: 10th
Current position: 12th
Revised prediction: 13th

Before losing Pearce in the off season, I had them just outside the 8. After losing Pearce I had them collecting the spoon. They have had some good games, but are generally ordinary. They have probably done enough to avoid the spoon, but I wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

Original prediction: 16th
Current position: 13th
Revised prediction: 15th

The Titans are a finals side when they play to their ability. Unfortunately they can’t do it for 80 minutes week in/week out. They will win their share of games from here, and may sneak in if results go their way.

Original prediction: 11th
Current position: 14th
Revised prediction: 11th

The Tigers are pretty much doing what I expected of them. They can spring an upset when it suits them, but then have games where they do nothing. 2023 probably can’t come quick enough for them.

Original prediction: 14th
Current position: 15th
Revised prediction: 16th

I wasn’t expecting big things from the Dogs this year, but was expecting better than what they have shown so far. A few off field distractions are a part of the problem. May still improve in the back end of the season.

Original prediction: 12th
Current position: 16th
Revised prediction: 14th


SOO is our biggest threat, closely followed by our bogey side the Eels.

Seriously, it’s Melbourne and Bellamy!


Code Sports rankings. Probably a good indicator of how things are at this stage of the season.

Will look at everything tonight after the game for my predictions.

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A rushed assessment this year, due to starting a new job today.

The defence that has been the hallmark of the last 3 seasons is still there. The attack has been inconsistent. The loss of Cleary for approx 6 weeks will probably cost the Panthers the minor premiership, but the rest will have him fresh for the finals & a serious shot at the threepeat.
Original prediction 2nd/Premiers
Current position 1st
Revised prediction 3rd/Premiers

Have been a level above where they were at this stage last year. The experience of falling away in the back end of last year could serve as extra motivation this year.
Original prediction 8th/Qualifying finalists
Current position 2nd
Revised prediction 2nd/Preliminary finalists

The best attacking team in the competition when they are on song. Also have the ability to to inexplicably fall in a heap at times. Should at least make the final 4 again.
Original prediction 3rd/Preliminary finalists
Current position 3rd
Revised prediction 1st/Runners up

Can be very good, can also be very ordinary, especially if Hynes is missing. Will make the finals again, but probably be found out early
Original prediction 6th/Semi finalists
Current position 4th
Revised prediction 6th/Qualifying finalists

Haven’t been anywhere near their best, and won’t until Papenhuyzen returns. Will still be hard to beat.
Original prediction 4th/Preliminary finalists
Current position 5th
Revised prediction 4th/Semi finalists

Have continued their form from the back end of last year… I don’t think they have the ability to go all the way though.
Original prediction 10th
Current position 6th
Revised prediction 5th/Qualifying finalists

Have been good, but not sure if they can maintain it. Possible smoky for the finals
Original prediction 14th
Current position 7th
Revised prediction 10th

We’re always going to be an enigma. Bennett has done well to have them sitting this high on the ladder. Will probably make the finals in their first season, but don’t think they have the ability to go all the way.
Original prediction 17th
Current position 8th
Revised prediction 7th/Semi finalists

Probably the biggest disappointment of the season. When they play to their ability they can match it with the best, and have the experience to make a challenge in the back end of the season.
Original prediction 1st/Runners up
Current position 9th
Revised prediction 8th/Semi finalists

Sea Eagles
Can be competitive, but think there is something lacking at the club at the moment
Original prediction 12th
Current position 10th
Revised prediction 13th

I didn’t hold much hope for them this year, but they have shown that they can match it with anyone at times. Unfortunately still inconsistent.
Original prediction 15th
Current position 11th
Revised prediction 14th

Have had their moments, but I think the loss of Mahoney will cost them a finals spot.
Original prediction 7th/Qualifying finalists
Current position 12th
Revised prediction 9th

Have ability, but only for 40 minutes.
Original prediction 16th
Current position 13th
Revised prediction 12th

Another big disappointment, have shown signs of recapturing last years form, but until they show it consistently, I’m going to have trouble seeing them making the finals
Original prediction 5th/Semi finalists
Current position 14th
Revised prediction 11th

Despite all of their off season signings, it looks like they are still a year or two off being a finals team.
Original prediction 9th
Current position 15th
Revised prediction 15th

Have been competitive, but seem to lack the ability to finish games off consistently.
Original prediction 11th
Current position 16th
Revised prediction 16th

I didn’t hold much hope at the start of the year, but even by those low standards they are failing.
Original prediction 13th
Current position 17th
Revised prediction 17th

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grea summation and my view after a few rounds was a Souths v Panther Grand Final and nothing has changed that view

Big gap between these two and everybody else.

Eels have been the biggest disappointment so far and can make the 8 but will be hard with the teams sitting above them.

The loss of Cleary whilst unexpected and disappointing will give Ivan the chance to fine tune the team in effort areas without him and in a weird way make the team stronger for the finals.

If we can run our best 18 in the finals we should win again this year because GFs are won on defence, that has been the cornerstone of our squad for 3 years now and will be tested without Cleary as he is a great defender but what i saw from Cogger impressed me in what can be best described as early days.

The top sides will line him up in coming weeks and we will see how good the kid is.


Mostly agree with those assessments, but I don’t think Souths will go the distance. The seem to hit their peak a little to early for my thinking and think they are in for a late season fade, maybe finishing 4th or 5th.

I don’t think they will make the Grand Final. Based on current performance I think Panthers v Bronco would be closer to the mark.


Agree Steve, I fear the Broncos, IMO they are the only team that can trouble us. Forget last year, they will not drop off. Our only saving grace is the SOO period may create a few big heads, not to mention $$ up nuffies who are constantly “out & about”.

If they play to their best in the finals, they are a big chance. Lets hope someone from left field takes them down lol

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Well, I was on the right track. Though I didn’t expect such an implosion as what Souths have dished out. Not sure many expected that.

Some big problems at the Rabbitohs. Sounds like a few players need to be told to pull their heads in.

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They certainly imploded this year. From what I have heard, some players are not happy about one player who is consistently being picked to appease a few big names, yet is far from the standard required.

I also noted that 2 particular Souths players were notably absent from Sam Burgess post season catchup drinks.

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Its obvious none of us saw the Bunnies total collapse when we posted in June

They had a few mates in Cowboys and Eels and there have been some surprises perhaps none more than the Warriors.

One could be quite hard but the comp has clearly identified 4 top teams and the rest are simply making up the numbers.

The cream of the Top 4 continues to be the Panthers who have been first or equal first for 4 years in a row.

Be plenty who have missed the 8 thinking about the what ifs of this season.