NRL 2024 ladder predictions: The wooden spoon candidates – Tigers favourites for hat-trick but a new ‘contender’ emerges
It’s time to kick off my annual NRL ladder predictions and entering its fourth season, they have been fairly successful.
The 2024 season shapes as a tough one to forecast with plenty of players and a few coaches moving around the clubs in the summer months.
Without further ado, the 2024 series begins at the bottom of the table where the Wests Tigers are favourites to end a third straight year of finishing last but one of the biggest names in the game could be handed the unwanted honour.
17. Wests Tigers
Wests Tigers fans have been tortured more than any other fan base over the past decade, and unfortunately for them, their will be no steps forward this season.
They have not reached the finals since 2011, and they have turned to Benji Marshall as a rookie coach to break that drought as soon as possible.
Their fans’ patience ran out many seasons ago and their team has yet to show any signs of improving despite brininging in some high-profile recruits last year.
Api Koroisau took over the captain’s role but he was not able to carry over his success from Penrith. Finishing as wooden spooners after winning back-two-back premierships is a huge turnaround for a player.
They finished with just four wins to their name and suffered defeat 20 times in 2023. Their chances of having a successful season were shattered within the first two months of the season after they lost their opening seven games. When a team begins a campaign like that, they virtually have zero chance of making the finals – they simply must begin the upcoming season by getting some early wins on the board.
The reason why I don’t see them improving is due to a lack of change. Yes, Luke Brooks has departed, and this might be a positive factor because the halfback was not performing anywhere near his pay rate but one player leaving will not remove the entire problem.
Their gains have not been anything extraordinary, as Aiden Seizer and Jayden Sullivan are their two most high-profile additions.
Due to this, I don’t see much positivity for the Tigers again this season, which is why I’ve predicted them to receive yet another wooden spoon.
16. Gold Coast Titans
There is no reason that is directed at the Titans for why I have them finishing second last. I simply believe this because teams that finished near the Gold Coast’s position in 2023 look to be improving. The Titans are stuck in the mud and show no signs of upgrading their ladder position from 14th.
Their most important gain for 2024 is Keenan Palasia. The losses outweigh the gains, as five players have gone to rival clubs and Patrick Herbert was released. No huge names were removed from the roster but no game-changers were bought into the side either.
Incoming coach Des Hasler faces a massive task to get this team firing.
There’s no question that the Titans have plenty of talent but they haven’t been able to click. The 2021 season was a successful one when they reached the finals and were a pass away from making the second round. (Apologies for bringing up that game, Titans fans.)
Since then, Gold Coast have gone backwards – they finished 13th and 14th in their past two seasons. Stars like Jayden Campbell and AJ Brimson have shown their potential but that hasn’t translated into consistent success due to injuries or switching in and out of different roles.
Campbell looks set to start the season at fullback with Brimson at centre.
It makes sense to play Campbell in the halves alongside Kieran Foran, who can play five-eighth or halfback. Brimson would then obviously slot into the fullback position. Tanah Boyd cannot compete with Campbell, as Boyd is full of inconsistency and isn’t the man you want with the ball in crucial moments.