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The Titans are the biggest winners from the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership draw, while the Bulldogs will have to find improvement the hard way after being handed the toughest road.

Overall the 2022 draw features a much smaller gap between the theoretical toughest and easiest draws compared to 2021.

Assigning each team a rank of 1-16 based on their 2021 ladder finish, with minor premiers Storm assigned the maximum difficulty factor of 16 and wooden spooners Canterbury the lowest factor of 1, has ranked every club's 2022 draw from easiest to hardest.

Titans easiest, Bulldogs hardest in new schedule

The Titans and Rabbitohs have the clearest run of last year's finalists while there are opportunities for the likes of the Cowboys and Dragons with not too many repeat games against last year's toughest sides.

The Bulldogs have the toughest schedule on paper; while that is partly a factor of every side having a tougher ranking than themselves they also face plenty of repeat games against the best sides of last season.

The Broncos have an almost identical toughness rating for similar reasons to Canterbury, while the Roosters and Eels have the toughest task of any of last year's finalists – they are the only two teams in the competition to face repeat games against all four of last year's top four sides.

The Roosters, Eels and Broncos are the only clubs that have a return game against six of last year's top eight. The Titans, Cowboys and Dragons have the fewest with just three return games against 2021 finalists.

Penrith's bid to go back-to-back is on track early, with their schedule landing in the easier half of the draw

The total gap of 23 between the theoretical hardest draw (Canterbury's 215) and easiest (Gold Coast's 192) is far closer than this time last year, when Brisbane's schedule was rated as 234 and Newcastle's as 187 for a difference of 47.

An imperfect science

This is just a snapshot of the challenge each club will face next year and there are plenty of shortcomings in the formula.

For example, many sides will be better or worse next year than they were this year. Canterbury have been designated the 'easiest' team to face based on their 2021 ladder finish but with a host of new signings inbound, are likely to be much tougher next year.

The formula also doesn't take into account home and away games, nor the possibility of facing a heavyweight team during the rep period when they may have a significant number of players missing due to Origin commitments.

There is also no benefit to having an 'easier' draw if you fail to beat the teams you are expected to beat, while as they say to be the best you have to beat the best. As always, take the results with a grain of salt.

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