Your Ultimate Guide To The 2024 NRL Season

Your ultimate guide to the 2024 NRL season

With the season opening double header set to kick-off in Las Vegas this weekend, it’s about time you get up to speed on all that’s been going on in rugby league.

AS PART OF A consolidated effort to grow rugby league internationally and establish the sport as Australia’s biggest, the NRL is currently being exposed to an entirely new market. This weekend, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Manly Sea Eagles, Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters will play the first ever NRL games in the USA when they open the 2024 season in Las Vegas

It’s not that the NRL’s popularity on home soil is waning. Anything but. Rather, the NRL recognises that the USA represents a massive untapped market, one that has a proven penchant for hard-hitting tackles, high-octane action and nail-biting finishes—which are the hallmarks of a rugby league game.

This year, the NRL looks considerably less predictable than in previous seasons. The Penrith Panthers have ruled the roost recently, completing a coveted three-peat last year and making dominance look effortless as one of the best teams we’ve seen this century. But years of roster attrition have left the team looking significantly depleted in multiple positions. Rival teams will be eager to knock the Panthers off their pedestal, and they have the talent and firepower to do so. We’re in for a special year of rugby league.

The NRL’s ‘Sin City’ sojourn has been in the headlines for months, but in case it’s snuck up on you, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the 2024 NRL season, just in time for kick-off.

 

What does the 2024 NRL schedule look like?

 

The opening games of the 2024 NRL season will be held in Las Vegas this Sunday, March 3rd (AEDT). The Rabbitohs will play the Sea Eagles at 1:30PM, followed by the Roosters and Broncos at 3:30PM. The rest of round one will commence in the following week, beginning on Thursday, March 7th.

If you’re the kind of fan who flits in an out of interest with the NRL season up until State of Origin begins, know that the 2024 State of Origin series will be held between June 5th and July 17th. This year, games will be held at Sydney’s Accor Stadium, Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, and for the first time since 2018, Melbourne’s MCG.

For those who prefer to abstain from the action until every game really counts, the NRL’s 2024 finals will begin on September 12th, with the Grand Final being played on October 6th.

 

Who are the best teams in the 2024 NRL season?

 

2024 NRL Season

Getty Images | Bradley Kanaris

 

The obvious first-choice here is the Penrith Panthers, who remain the favourites to win the premiership with a chance at what would be the NRL’s first four-peat since 1966. While the Panthers’ squad has been severely depleted owing to salary cap issues, having the best player in the league in superstar halfback Nathan Clearly will keep the team in contention—and as last year’s Grand Final showed us, if Cleary’s playing, no game is ever truly beyond doubt.

2024 premiership runner ups, the Brisbane Broncos, are on Penrith’s heels and will be eager to exact some measure of revenge after last year’s Grand Final loss—a game the Broncos led 24-8 with less than 30 minutes to play. On paper, the Broncos’ lineup doesn’t look quite as formidable as it did last year, with some key departures, but in the absence of any challenges from rival teams, they remain the biggest threat to the Panthers’ reign.

Following the two favourites, cross-town rivals Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs are the next best bets to come out on top—and the prospect of the teams meeting in the Grand Final will have NRL fans frothing. The Melbourne Storm also run a tight ship and can never be counted out. But apart from those five teams, it’s difficult to see anyone else challenging for the top honours.

 

Can anyone stop the Penrith Panthers?

 

That’s the all-important question, isn’t it? For the sake of competition, we’re going to say yes, a number of teams can derail the Panthers’ dynasty. Despite a reign of dominance that is downright unprecedented in modern rugby league, the Panthers only ever looked far and away the best team in the league in 2022, when they dismantled the Parramatta Eels in the Grand Final. They trailed in both the 2021 and 2023 Grand Finals, requiring individual moments of brilliance to save them from despair.

If nothing else, this proves that the Panthers aren’t infallible. They make mistakes like any other team, and while a premiership winning team will likely have to go through the Panthers, the team is not unbeatable. The squad appears to be its weakest since 2019. Last year, they lost hooker Api Koroisau and second rower Viliame Kikau, among other rotation players. This year, they’ve lost star centre Stephon Crichton and a stalwart member of their forward pack in Spencer Leniu, without replacing them with anyone of note.

Of course, all it takes to be premiership contending team is a few star players in key positions, which the Panthers have in excess, but the men filling the margins matter too, and the Panthers are starting to look thin. It’s also worth noting that superstar five-eighth Jarome Luai, who led Samoa to the world cup final in 2022, will also be departing for the Tigers at the end of the season. The Panthers’ dynasty seems to be drawing to a close.

 

Who are the players to watch in the 2024 NRL season?

 

Nathan Cleary

The Prince of Penrith is an obvious selection in this category. Despite being yet to win a Dally M medal, Cleary is undoubtedly the NRL’s best player, with a pair of Clive Churchill medals to prove it. You need only to look at Cleary’s performance in last year’s Grand Final to understand the sensationalism that surrounds the halfback, with many already forwarding his name in rugby league’s GOAT conversation. Now leading a weakened Panthers side, the question will be whether Cleary can win without a star-studded roster.

Latrell Mitchell

Latrell Mitchell is the undisputed leader of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and recently captained the Indigenous All Stars. A polarising figure who has become one of the faces of the league, Mitchell has a target on his back and a point to prove. Since moving to the Rabbitohs, Mitchell has consistently been one of the league’s best players and his team have consistently challenged for premierships, but they haven’t won one. Already a two-time Grand Final winner with the Roosters, Mitchell needs to prove he can do it again, as his team’s best player.

Tom Trbojevic

When he’s firing, there isn’t a more dynamic player with an ability to turn a game on its head in a single play than Tommy Turbo. Although, Trbojevic has struggled to stay healthy recently, with multiple season ending injuries in his rear-view. The Manly Sea Eagles’ success hinges on a healthy Trbojevic, but can he actually stay relatively injury-free for a full year?

Reece Walsh

No player had a more surprising season in 2023 than the mercurial Reece Walsh of the Brisbane Broncos. Cast aside by the New Zealand Warriors, Walsh reignited his career in 2023, establishing himself as one of the NRL’s premier players. That year ended in a heartbreaking Grand Final loss, and many lay the blame for that defeat on Walsh’s shoulders, as the fullback went missing during the Panthers’ shocking comeback. Now, Walsh needs to prove that his 2023 season wasn’t a one-off and that he and the Broncos deserve to take the mantle from the Panthers.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by NRL (@nrl)

 

Where can you watch the NRL in 2024?

 

The primary broadcasting rights for the NRL season lie with Foxtel. As a result, all games will be broadcast live on Fox Sports, while every game is also available to stream live and on demand on Kayo. A selection of headline games will also be broadcast live on Channel 9.

 

Related: 

NRL fans, this Dolphins doco is worth a watch

How the NRL’s biggest stars prepare for a massive season

By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

More From

Gather Round
Faultless footy, cutting-edge cars, and an atmosphere like no other: a weekend in Adelaide for Gather Round

Faultless footy, cutting-edge cars, and an atmosphere like no other: a weekend in Adelaide for Gather Round

If there’s one thing Adelaide is known for, it’s turning it on when major events and festivals come to town. During the 2024 edition of the AFL’s Gather Round – otherwise known as the festival of footy – the city didn’t disappoint. Men’s Health was on the ground to soak it all up, exploring the city in select Toyota vehicles. Similar to the round itself, the cars from the AFL’s premier partner live up to the hype.

Nico Hülkenberg
Nico Hülkenberg isn’t slowing down

Nico Hülkenberg isn’t slowing down

As one of the most experienced drivers on the grid, Haas veteran and Heinemann partner Nico Hülkenberg has seen Formula 1 rise to the top of international sports. He tells Men’s Health why F1 has never been more entertaining, what makes Aussie fans some of the world’s best, and why, after a golden career, he has no intention of slowing down any time soon