Matty Johns says the new rules have had a profound effect on the NRL.
Matty Johns says the new rules have had a profound effect on the NRL.

‘Disastrous’: Why these teams have failed in new NRL era

THE NRL competition is rapidly dividing into the haves and have nots.

The sides who have successfully adapted to the change of game, and the ones who have failed.

BRONCOS

The faster tempo and loosened midfield have been disastrous for Brisbane.

They have assembled a roster ill-equipped to deal with how the game has changed.

Their big pack is being cut to ribbons with teams who centralise their attack with speed, footwork, short passing and tight inside balls.

Their attack is too structured and their playmakers are really struggling to play fast, reactive football. In trouble.

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Matt Lodge and Brisbane’s big forwards have struggled to keep pace under the new rules. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Matt Lodge and Brisbane’s big forwards have struggled to keep pace under the new rules. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

BULLDOGS

They lack experience and a genuine quality playmaker to operate alongside Kieran Foran.

They have some very good young blokes coming through but you only have to see the way the Sydney Roosters played with them to know how much ground this team have to make up. Lack personnel and experience.

COWBOYS

North Queensland's attack is too structured, too slow and therefore too predictable.

Their middle defence, like the Broncos', is vulnerable and being taken apart by fast moving plays. Struggling.

Listen now!!! On this episode of the Matty Johns Podcast, Matty and the boys discuss the Steve Kearney sacking, other coaches under pressure and whether the Roosters will be the team of the decade. They also preview Round 7 and Steve 'Blocker' Roach relives the good old days - and some biff!!!

DRAGONS

Their first two performances lacked energy and spirit, with and without the football.

But the changes Paul McGregor has made with positional switches and new players coming in, have injected some life into the team.

Early on, St George Illawarra's want to play structured football was hopelessly predictable, but in recent weeks the structure has loosened, the players given more freedom and they look far better.

I'll be shocked though if they play in the finals.

Mitchell Moses’s decision making has improved in 2020. Picture: Brad Kanaris/Getty Images
Mitchell Moses’s decision making has improved in 2020. Picture: Brad Kanaris/Getty Images

EELS

They have a big strong metre-making pack, and excellent playmakers who make good decisions at speed.

Parramatta are thriving in the faster tempo. Mitchell Moses is playing brilliantly and he is surrounded by an excellent spine plus Blake Ferguson and Maika Sivo, two big wingers who can finish and lead yardage.

Last week's loss to the Roosters was a lot closer than 24-10.

Beautifully balanced team.

KNIGHTS

Huge improvers.

Newcastle have benefited greatly in the competition being paused, because it allowed coach Adam O'Brien to double down on his tough pre-season and put even more work into their legs and lungs.

Kalyn Ponga was dangerous last season but with faster rucks he's seriously deadly.

O'Brien's new regime has given this team much-needed steel and there's no better examples than the Saifiti brothers.

The change of rules have enhanced their chances.

Nathan Cleary has revelled under the faster game. Picture: AAP Image/Craig Golding
Nathan Cleary has revelled under the faster game. Picture: AAP Image/Craig Golding

PANTHERS

The pack has grown a leg, as has Nathan Cleary.

Nathan is playing with far more immediacy and Api Koroisau encourages his No.7 to play direct and fast.

Last year they didn't have the mental toughness to beat the top teams, but so far in 2020 they've taken some big scalps and are a premiership dark horse.

RAIDERS

Last year's grand finalists are struggling for consistency, but Canberra can beat anyone on their day.

When Josh Hodgson can get out of dummy half regularly, everything clicks, but last week the Raiders' middles struggled to penetrate Manly and therefore Hodgson struggled for time and space, and that in turn reduced the impact of George Williams and Jack Wighton.

When they get the go forward, a very dangerous team and will be final four.

ROOSTERS

The most important facet of a team's attack is the ability of their forwards to punch through and create momentum.

The Roosters do this better than anyone and then James Tedesco and Luke Keary do the rest.

They have gotten better with the loosening midfield.

Two levels above the rest at the moment and no Origin is a bonus.

If I was setting odds they'd be even money for the title.

SEA EAGLES

Are adapting beautifully.

The pack is nicely balanced, athletic back-rowers, strong metre makers and a playmaker in Jake Trbojevic who allows Daly Cherry-Evans and Dylan Walker to run the football.

Tom Trbojevic is doubly dangerous with faster rucks and will be missed.

But Manly can beat you with brilliance as well as toughness. Serious contender.

SHARKS

This is a side who have relied so heavily on their forward pack and in recent seasons that has been stripped back enormously.

On top of that, key creative players are continually battling injuries.

Talented but a fading force.

Five-eighth Cody Walker’s instinctive play has unlocked Latrell Mitchell’s potential at South Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
Five-eighth Cody Walker’s instinctive play has unlocked Latrell Mitchell’s potential at South Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

RABBITOHS

The return of Cody Walker has made an enormous difference for Souths.

He is just about the best instinctive playmaker in the NRL and his playmaking has sparked Latrell Mitchell, who's about to hit peak form.

The move of Cam Murray to the middle has the Bunnies gaining better yardage and in turn we're seeing more Damien Cook. Need to find more improvement, but a contender.

STORM

Haven't adjusted to the change of game as well as I thought.

I get the feeling Melbourne are still clinging to too much of their structured attack to their disadvantage.

The more Cameron Smith can get out of dummy-half and the more Cameron Munster has the football the better they look.

You know they'll be in and around the October finish.

You wouldn’t think Harry Grant was a rookie. Picture: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne
You wouldn’t think Harry Grant was a rookie. Picture: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne

TIGERS

Typically inconsistent but I'm expecting significant improvement in this area.

The arrival of hooker Harry Grant has allowed Michael Maguire to centralise their attack, with Grant a key focal point.

Grant also encourages Luke Brooks to play straight and run the ball.

Finals football a strong possibility.

TITANS

The main principle of attack is to create space via forward momentum and they just don't do this regularly, their attack lacks upfield penetration.

They are in the market for some big-name players and they desperately need them.

WARRIORS

Sadly the sudden, and most believe unfair, sacking of Steve Kearney has taken some of the attention off all the good will that the Warriors developed with their selfless sacrifices in getting the season restarted.

The Warriors need to generate more speed and creativity in key creative positions instead of having a constantly over-reliance on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

I would love to see the Warriors rewarded for their sacrifices but I can't see them playing finals.



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