The NRL will become the first contact sport back in play when the competition restarts on Thursday. The first rounds will be played behind closed doors – as Round 2 was in the last weekend before play was stopped – but the possibility of allowing fans back in might change later in the year.
The NRL ladder will keep the points gained from their first two games and a revised draw for a 20 Round season has been made. Teams will play all the other sides once and they will play five of their rivals twice. There will then be a four-week Finals Series to decide the 2020 NRL Champions.
On the eve of the restart here are some teams to watch out for and their odds with BetXChange.
Melbourne Storm – 4.00
Two wins from two games was a very Melbournelike return for the Storm. They have been installed as favorites to win the 2020 Grand Final and they will have the huge advantage of playing their home games in Victoria at AAMI Park after it was picked as one of the six venues that will be used for the season. Wins to open up the amended campaign against Canberra and Souths (both at home) would be massive.
Canberra Raiders – 4.50
The Raiders will think they have every chance of beating Melbourne in Round 3 as they were able to best the Storm last season. They will have to avoid the distractions of the John Bateman contract saga that has kicked up recently, while their travel schedule is brutal with a game-day routine that is going to include a pair of flights every matchday until at least round nine.
Sydney Roosters – 5.25
An 0-2 start to the season meant that the break – just not the reason for it – came at the right time for the defending premiers. The team was clearly still reeling from the losses of Cooper Cronk and Latrell Mitchell over the first two rounds, but this is an experienced unit that is used to winning and you fancy that the coaching staff will have rejigged the team to be more like the winning force we are used to seeing.
Paramatta Eels – 6.75
The Eels are the team to watch as the season restarts with Brad Arthur’s bunch looking like a squad capable of competing for a premiership that would be a first in the modern era. Mitchell Moses was the best player in the competition when it was shut down, while Parra sits atop the table with a pair of wins that feel very important with a shortened season in play. If they can start well with clashes against Brisbane and a pair of rivalry games (Penrith and Manly) then we could be looking at a special season.
South Sydney Rabbitohs – 12.50
The Rabbits will take on the Roosters in a Round 3 clash that is always one of the best games of the season. Backing that up with the Storm in Round 4 means that Souths need a win in at least one of those games to feel like a competitor in the sprint. This will be harder without the services of the suspended Cody Walker – he will be back in Round 5 – so the Rabbits are going to need some of their veterans to stand up and be counted with the loss of their State of Origin five-eighth.
New Zealand Warriors – 119.00
The Warriors will be the team that all the neutrals cheer for in 2020. Uprooted from their home at Mt. Smart Stadium in Auckland, the Warriors will play their ‘home’ games on the Central Coast. The Warriors scored just six points total in their first two games as the uncertainty surrounding their viability in the comp seemed to get to them. Their roster is already depleted and calling in reinforcements is going to be tough, so it would be a truly staggering achievement for them to even make the Finals.