As you know the 2021 Draw has been released - https://www.parraeels.com.au/draw/
I wanted to give my thoughts on the draw and why 2021 is going to be a massive test for our side to determine if we are true Premiership contendors or not. By looking at our draw, I think the NRL has now acnkowledged that we are not a regular top 4 side. You'd notice that over the years, the regular top 4 sides, such as the Roosters, Storm, Canberra, etc are usually handed the most difficult draws because they are expected to be able to handle the difficulty well enough as they are considered strong teams. When I look at our draw now, I am starting to see the same thing.
For example, since as long as I can remember, Parramatta were only playing against the Storm and the Roosters only ONCE per season(in the regular season). In 2021, we will be versing both of them TWICE. That's 2 more games where we will be versing quality opposition, whereas in previous seasons, we would have instead versed bottom 8 sides which would've really helped us obtain our top 4 positions. What this means is we are really going to need to step up against the big boys if we want to make the top 4 this year round.
In 2021 we will be:
- Versing the Storm TWICE (Rounds 2 and 24)
- Versing the Roosters TWICE (Rounds 9 and 20)
- Versing the Raiders TWICE (Rounds 6 and 19)
- Versing the Rabbitohs TWICE (Rounds 12 and 21)
- Rivals game vs Manly TWICE - which are never easy (Rounds 11 and 22)
- Rivals game vs Panthers TWICE (Rounds 16 and 25)
- Rivals game vs Bulldogs TWICE - which are annoyingly never easy and are always close encounters ( Rounds 8 and 15)
All of those games are going to be very difficult. That's 14 games out of 25. So what's left?
- Broncos TWICE (Rounds 1 and 7)
- Sharks ONCE (Round 3)
- Tigers TWICE (Rounds 4 and 14)
- Dragons ONCE (Round 5)
- Warriors ONCE (Round 10 in Brisbane)
- Knights ONCE (Round 13)
- Titans ONCE (Round 18)
- Cowboys ONCE (Round 23)
- One BYE
Already, looking at the teams we are only versing ONCE, we have Cowboys, Titans, Knights, Warriors, Dragons and Sharks. All games we are expected to win. In season 2020 we had Roosters, Storm, Raiders, Warriors, Titans and Cowboys. In 2019, it was Roosters, Storm, Warriors, Titans, Cowboys and Rabbitohs.
To me, it's clear the NRL are starting to take us more seriously. In the past, those games against the Roosters, Storm, Raiders and Rabbitohs used to be 40 point blow outs, so the NRL deliberatley would not schedule us against them as much as it's not good viewership for ratings. Now, we are expected to compete, so the boys really need to step up this year and deliver.