NRL 2023: Broncos, Bulldogs among teams tending to move up from basement to penthouse

They missed the Finals in 2022 and endured season-killing horror runs, but bookies — and history — agree the Bulldogs and Broncos can shoot into the top 4 next year.

It comes as we also reveal a startling statistic that almost defies rugby league logic, showing how at least one team from outside the NRL top eight has catapulted into the four every year since 1999, with the only three exceptions in 2002, 2004 and 2015.

And with history, a massive recruiting drive and the signing of the game’s most sought-after young coach, the TAB has now installed Canterbury as the second most likely team behind the well-backed Broncos to come from outside the top 8 and finish in the top 4 next season.

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It might look like a long shot on paper, but it’s worth noting that the Bulldogs also hold the record for getting into the foursomes from outside the playoffs in one season. They actually did it on five previous occasions – in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012.

Additionally, the Panthers have made it four times, the Raiders, Roosters, and Sharks three times each, the Cowboys, Eels, and Rabbitohs twice, while six teams have made it once, including the Broncos, Knights, Sea Eagles, Tigers, Titans, and Krieger.

So instead of being seen as an unusual occurrence, it has actually become the norm.

On six occasions, teams have also made it to the Grand Finals after missing the previous year’s Finals, with three firsts including the Panthers, who came from 12th place in 2003, the Tigers, who won from ninth place in 2005, and the Roosters who went from 13th to champion 2013.


The TAB has listed the Broncos with the lowest odds of recovering from their horrible late-season surrender, with $3.50 to move from ninth place into the top four.

Next up is Ciraldo’s Dogs with $5 after 12th place.

Even factoring in Ciraldo’s arrival as well as the additions of Viliame Kikau and Reed Mahoney, it’s still surprising that the $5.50 Dogs have less of a chance than the Sea Eagles to move up from 11th under new coach Anthony Seibold to recover.

Obviously a lot will depend on Tom Trbojevic’s fitness after he recently injured a hamstring which will wipe him out for most of the pre-season.

Fox Sports Stats show the Sea Eagles have won just 33 percent of their games since 2019 when Turbo wasn’t playing.

The Dragons are the next bets to make the jump from outside the eight into the four at $12, followed by the Titans and Tigers at $13, the Knights at $15 and the Warriors at $17.

NRL freshmen The Dolphins are underdogs at $19, finishing in the top four in their debut season.

Overall, the TAB has the Panthers at $1.50 ahead of the Roosters $1.60, the Storm $1.70, the Cowboys $2.40, the Sharks $2.50, the Rabbitohs $2.75 and the Eels 3 $ the lowest price in this market, while the Raiders are listed at $6.50 behind the Dogs and Seeadler.

“The Bulldogs have good backing to make the four at this price point having added Mahoney and Kikau, while positivity has certainly increased with the Tigers as their forward pack has been bolstered by some key recruits,” said TAB’s Rohan Welsh .

“Even Manly, with all its drama, has attracted attention.

“There was absolutely no love from TAB players for the Warriors and Titans to reach the Top 4 and little interest in the Dragons and Newcastle.”


It seems so long ago now, but it’s worth remembering that around this time last year there was also great hope in Belmore on the back of another much-hyped recruiting campaign under Trent Barrett.

With the addition of Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton, big things were expected of the dogs in 2022.

But unfortunately it fell apart pretty quickly once the season got underway, and after winning just two of their first 10 games came Barrett’s shock exit.

Mick Potter then came on as a substitute and finished the season with five wins from 14 games.

Overall, Barrett won just five games out of 34 in charge at Canterbury, giving him a win rate of 14.7.

This comes after Dean Pay was axed for winning 33.3 percent of his 57 games (19 wins), while Hasler led the Dogs to two major finals and won 56.8 percent of his 155 games (88 wins).

The Bulldogs have missed the Finals six straight seasons since 2016.

But while Ciraldo has no experience as a head coach, he arrives with a stellar resume, having thrived all the way through the Panthers’ junior representative system to his assistant roles under Ivan Cleary.

And after Craig Fitzgibbon’s remarkable rookie season at Cronulla, many believe Ciraldo will be collaborating with the likes of Fitzy and Todd Payten as part of the reimagined coaching revolution for years to come.

The Broncos are also desperate for a turnaround as the former powerhouse hopes to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2019.

For quite a while this year, they looked like they would be in the top 4, which only made their decline even harder to stomach.

Walters has won 20 of 48 games in charge in Brisbane with a win rate of 41.7.


Welsh said there has also been a “money boost” for Trent Robinson’s Roosters in Premiership betting after they endured a horrific series of injuries in recent years.

“This includes the same largest bet yet of the offseason, $6,000 to $6.50, as well as multiple $1,000 bets to $7,” Welsh added.

“However, Penrith is still the best supported having made strong money in the 48 hours post GF including a $6000 investment at $4 while the Storm also went from $9 to $7.50 US dollar has been cut.”

Meanwhile, there’s even plenty of love for the Broncos to go all the way.

“The Broncos have been well supported and have been cut from $21 to $15. They’re sixth best to win the title now, led by a $3800 outlay to win the Premier League at $21,” Welsh said.

“The Dolphins continue to perform well on the long odds of $67 at around 3 percent of the investment, while Manly has cut from $29 to $23 since the turmoil surrounding Des Hasler’s ax cancellation and Anthony Seibold’s Brookvale installment .

“The Warriors have the worst support to win the Premiership, with Gold Coast and Newcastle vying for who is second worst, and the Dragons are also battling for support from TAB players.”

Originally released as NRL 2023: Broncos, Bulldogs among teams that tend to move up from basement to penthouse NRL 2023: Broncos, Bulldogs among teams tending to move up from basement to penthouse

Ryan Sederquist

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