Revealed: Biggest winners and losers in the revised NRL draw
Parramatta's path to the club's first premiership win in 34 years has been given a huge boost with the Eels the big winners of the NRL's revamped draw that will be announced on Thursday.
The Eels are among the fortunate clubs to avoid playing title contenders Melbourne, Canberra and the Roosters twice in the condensed NRL season.
They already have the added advantage of being one of a handful of teams to play matches at their genuine home ground and will also play a host of "away" games at Bankwest Stadium too.
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The Eels are grouped to play Brisbane, Wests Tigers, Penrith, Canterbury and Manly twice this year with The Daily Telegraph obtaining each team's double-up matches.
While the road to glory for the Roosters to secure an elusive third consecutive premiership has been made even more difficult with the club arguably handed the most difficult draw of any side.
The Roosters - who are winless from the opening two games of a shortened season - must play the Storm, Broncos, Raiders, Rabbitohs and the Dragons twice this year.
It makes their return game against South Sydney on Friday week crucial already for their top four hopes.
Melbourne have also been handed a tough path to the top of the table with double-up games against the Roosters, South Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra and Manly.
The winless Sharks have been gifted arguably the most favourable draw. They are one of only two teams to play the Titans and Warriors twice - whom many predict will compete for the wooden spoon. They also play neighbours St George Illawarra, North Queensland and Penrith twice.
Premiership favourites Canberra are the only other side with the Warriors/Titans double but their draw is evened out with tough games against Melbourne and the Roosters. They will play the Dragons twice too. Canberra's anti-vaccination players won't be able to play in Queensland unless the government eases its tough biosecurity policy.
Penrith is another club who would have liked what they got told yesterday with matches against Parramatta, North Queensland, Sharks, Tigers and the Warriors.
The NRL will announce the full draw at 4pm on Thursday but clubs were given a sneak peak on Wednesday when they were handed their matches for the rest of this season.
Teams will play everyone at least once in the 20-round season. Some teams may still play rivals twice before they have even played all other 15 clubs.
The focus of the five double-up matches has been on blockbuster rivalry games to help appease the game's broadcast partners.
That has counted against a high-drawing club such as Canterbury with the Bulldogs grouped in Sydney-only derbies against the Dragons, Parramatta, Tigers, South Sydney and Manly.
Venues for the first nine rounds will also be announced on Thursday, with the NRL hopeful of allowing teams to play at the genuine home grounds from the midpoint of the season. Bankwest Stadium will house five clubs; Parramatta, South Sydney, Cronulla, Canterbury and the Roosters while Campbelltown Stadium will be the temporary home for St George Illawarra, Wests Tigers, Canberra and Penrith.
Newcastle, Manly and the Warriors will play out of the Central Coast while Brisbane, North Queensland and Melbourne are allowed to play at their home venues. Gold Coast will play at Suncorp Stadium.
Cronulla: Dragons, Warriors, Titans, Cowboys, Panthers.
They won't play any team who made the top eight last year twice and are one of only two teams to play the Warriors and Titans twice. Throw in an underperforming St George Illawarra side, it is arguably the best draw of any club.
Cronulla v Dragons: WWLLW
Cronulla v Warriors: WLWWW
Cronulla v Titans: WWWLL
Cronulla v Cowboys: WWWLL
Cronulla v Panthers: LWWWW
Eels: Broncos, Tigers, Panthers, Bulldogs, Sea Eagles.
Not only do they get to host matches at their genuine home ground, they don't have to face competition heavyweights the Roosters, Rabbitohs, Melbourne or Canberra twice. Their dream draw is based more on who they don't play twice, rather than who they do.
Parramatta v Broncos: WLWLW
Parramatta v Tigers: WWWLW
Parramatta v Panthers: LWLLW
Parramatta v Bulldogs: WLWWL
Parramatta v Sea Eagles: WLWLW
Panthers: Eels, Cowboys, Sharks, Tigers, Warriors.
A fair draw. Take out the Eels and they play a winless Cronulla twice plus three other teams who did not make the finals last year.
Penrith v Eels: WLWWL
Penrith v Cowboys:
Penrith v Sharks: WLLLL
Penrith v Tigers: LWWWW
Penrith v Warriors: WLWLW
Raiders: Storm, Dragons, Roosters, Warriors, Titans
Have two really difficult matches against Melbourne and the Roosters but become one of only two sides to face the Warriors and Titans twice - the teams many expect to battle for the wooden spoon. They also play the Dragons.
Canberra v Storm: WWLLL
Canberra v Roosters: LLLWW
Canberra v Dragons: WLWLL
Canberra v Warriors: WLWLL
Canberra v Titans: WWWLW
Melbourne: Roosters, Rabbitohs, Knights, Raiders, Sea Eagles
They play the three other sides who finished in the top four last year twice, followed by Manly who finished sixth. They also have to play an undefeated Newcastle side. No soft games here.
Melbourne v Roosters: LWLLW
Melbourne v Rabbitohs: WWLWW
Melbourne v Knights: WWWWW
Melbourne v Raiders: LLWWW
Melbourne v Sea Eagles: WWLWL
Roosters: Storm, Broncos, Dragons, Rabbitohs, Raiders
Still chasing their first win of the season, the Roosters have been given one of the toughest draws in the competition. They play their top four counterparts from last year twice, along with Brisbane. The Dragons are their weakest opposition.
Sydney Roosters v Storm: WLWWL
Sydney Roosters v Broncos: LWLLW
Sydney Roosters v Dragons: WWWLW
Sydney Roosters v Rabbitohs: WLLWW
Sydney Roosters v Raiders: WWWLL
Warriors: Sharks, Panthers, Knights, Raiders, Sea Eagles
While they avoid some of the competition heavyweights they still play Canberra twice are the rest of the teams they square off against are genuine top eight hopefuls.
New Zealand v Sharks: LWLLLL
New Zealand v Panthers: LWLWL
New Zealand v Knights: LWLWL
New Zealand v Raiders: LWLWW
New Zealand v Sea Eagles: WLWLL
Bulldogs: Dragons, Eels, Tigers, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles
The Bulldogs are involved in intense rivalry matches all against Sydney counterparts. They have a double a triple of games against Parramatta, Manly and South Sydney but the standard drops off in their other games.
Canterbury v Dragons: LLWLW
Canterbury v Eels: LWLLW
Canterbury v Tigers: WWWLL
Canterbury v Rabbitohs: WLLLL
Canterbury v Sea Eagles: LLWLW
Titans: Broncos, Cowboys, Dragons, Sharks, Raiders
Expectantly they face their Queensland rivals twice. They also play strong Canberra and Cronulla teams twice and then the Dragons.
Gold Coast v Broncos: LLLWL
Gold Coast v Cowboys: LLLLL
Gold Coast v Dragons: LLLLW
Gold Coast v Sharks: LLLWW
Gold Coast v Raiders: LLLWL
Proceed with caution
Brisbane: Cowboys, Eels, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Titans
A mixed-bag for the Broncos. Have three incredibly tough matches against the Eels, Roosters and Rabbitohs but have fortunate to play the Titans twice. Clashes against North Queensland are always hotly contested.
Brisbane v Cowboys: WWWLW
Brisbane v Eels: LWLWL
Brisbane v Roosters: WLWWL
Brisbane v Rabbitohs: WLLWW
Brisbane v Titans: WLWLW
Cowboys: Brisbane, Cronulla, Panthers, Knights, Titans
Some winnable games for the Titans and have the bonus of not playing anyone from last season's top four. Broncos are always a threat while the Knights and Panthers are much improved from last year and sit undefeated.
North Queensland v Broncos: LLLWL
North Queensland v Sharks: LLLWW
North Queensland v Panthers: WWLLW
North Queensland v Knights: LWWWW
North Queensland v Titans: WWWWW
Dragons: Sharks, Roosters, Bulldogs, Raiders, Titans
Have to square off against last season's grand finalists in Roosters and Canberra twice. Play arch rivals Cronulla but their draw is given a boost by having Gold Coast and Canterbury twice which eases their difficult run.
St George Illawarra v Sharks: LLWWL
St George Illawarra v Roosters: LLLWL
St George Illawarra v Bulldogs: WWLWL
St George Illawarra v Raiders: LWLWW
St George Illawarra v Titans: WWWWL
Tigers: Eels, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Knights, Bulldogs
Have a pretty evenly matched draw with plenty of winnable games. Play a host all their Western Sydney neighbours (including South Sydney who play home games in Western Sydney) plus the Knights.
Wests Tigers v Eels: LLLWL
Wests Tigers v Panthers: WLLLL
Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs: WLLWL
Wests Tigers v Knights: LWWWL
Wests Tigers v Bulldogs: LLLWW
Rabbitohs: Storm, Broncos, Roosters, Tigers, Bulldogs
A mixed-bag for the Rabbitohs. Naturally play arch rivals the Roosters twice but also face off against Melbourne and Brisbane. Play the Bulldogs and Tigers twice too which pits them in a middle of the road draw.
South Sydney v Storm: LLWLL
South Sydney v Broncos: LWWLL
South Sydney v Roosters: LWWLL
South Sydney v Tigers: LWWLW
South Sydney v Bulldogs: LWWWW
Knights: Storm, Cowboys, Tigers, Warriors, Sea Eagles
Play only one top four side from last year twice in the Storm. Then play three sides who did not make the finals in 2019 but also play the Sea Eagles. Relatively decent draw for Newcastle.
Newcastle v Storm: LLLLL
Newcastle v Cowboys: WLLLL
Newcastle v Tigers: WLLLW
Newcastle v Warriors: WLWLW
Newcastle v Sea Eagles: LLWWL
Sea Eagles: Storm, Eels, Knights, Warriors, Bulldogs
A fair draw for Manly who face three potential top four teams twice then play Warriors and Canterbury who are expected to be towards the bottom of the ladder.
Manly v Storm: LLWLW
Manly v Eels: LWLWL
Manly v Knights: WWLLW
Manly v Warriors: LWLWW
Manly v Bulldogs: WWLWL
Originally published as Revealed: Biggest winners, losers in revised NRL draw