Report Card - NRL's Bottom 8

Finals time is upon us, let's take a moment to reflect on the teams that won't be playing in October. There are some positives, but for the most part, these teams need some big changes in 2021 to work their way back up the ladder and give their fans some hope.


Star: Kotoni Staggs put aside his sex tape scandal and had a brilliant year and if not for his ACL injury was a good chance to debut for NSW.

Fail: Everything! The rot starts at the top with White, Morris and Lockyer all accountable for terrible decisions. Seibold seemed arrogant and out of his depth while the players seem unaccountable for their dreadful performances. Celebrating the wooden spoon with a gender reveal on the field...a squad that has not read the room.

Hope for 2021: Things can’t be any worse than the wooden spoon in 2020. Still the richest club, list has plenty of rep players and a new coach could bounce them back to finals but needs an attitude adjustment by players.


Star: Attitude. Only 3 wins for the team but they didn’t roll over and made the opposition work each week.

Fail: 3 wins from 20. If not for the dreadful Broncos they win the spoon.

Hope for 2021: Roster still looks short of quality, particularly in the spine. Pressure is on Trent Barrett who gets his second crack at head coach. I think they’ll struggle again.


Star: The ‘Hammer’ young Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow came with plenty of hype and has had his highlights for sure.

Fail: Another disappointing season for the Cowboys who on paper look strong but have disappointed since 2017 grand final appearance.

Hope for 2021: Todd Payten worked wonders with the Warriors and might bring the best out of some players, he might not. Really hard to get a read.


Star: Cameron McInnes shifted from hooker to lock to accommodate struggling Ben Hunt and lead from the front each week. All heart.

Fail: Ben Hunt and Corey Norman are on big money and played origin last year yet looked clueless in the halves together.

Hope for 2021: Roster is pretty good and got some great forwards mixed with exciting young backs. Just like 4 other teams, they'll have a new coach in 2021 to bring new ideas and new energy. Has the most potential to jump into the 8.

Sea Eagles

Star: Curtis Sironen’s body held together and he was outstanding week in and week out. Honourable mention to DCE who has been criticised in some parts of media but finished the season 3rd for both try assists and line break assists which is an impressive return when rest of spine offered little.

Fail: There was genuine belief Manly could give the premiership a tilt this year but no Tommy Turbo equals no Manly. Dreadful defence - particularly on the edges. The major disappointment of the season.

Hope for 2021: Even with the loss of AFB to Warriors, if Manly’s best 13 stay fit they can go deep. A few key injuries and they fall apart though.


Star: Benji won’t get a 2021 deal but he’s still been brilliant. Luciano Leilua has looked fit and motivated under Michael McGuire.

Fail: Finals drought continues. Run hot and cold. Club has soft under belly.

Hope for 2021: Need to shift the deadwood mess that Ivan Cleary left them with - Parker, Reynolds and Mbye all on marquee money but not marquee players. Return of ‘the fox’ would help but it’s an attitude shift the club needs overall.


Star: Tohu Harris was a workhorse in the 2nd row every week but what was really impressive was the team showed resilience to win more games than expected during their NZ exile.

Fail: Stephen Kearney as a head coach. Put him down as a very good assistant.

Hope for 2021: Made a bunch of impressive 2021 signings in AFB, Evans and Aitken so there is hope they can play finals.


Star: AJ Brimson was the form player of the competition in the final third of the season and deserves an origin debut while Moeaki Fotuaika has been consistent all year and will likely join him.

Fail: Past recruitment decisions meant big money for little return from Cartwright, Boyd, Peats and Taylor. All but Taylor, who’s had a great end to the season, are off their books in 2021.

Hope for 2021: Three big money signings in the forward pack - Fa’asuamaleaui, Fifita and Ese’ese. Spine looks strong with Taylor and Fogarty taking the line on. A side that seems to have genuine belief and their handful of fans will have hope.


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