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Power Rankings: Winners and losers from layoff

It was hard to re-evaluate the Power Rankings after a layoff, but a few injuries, suspensions and the revised draw has led to several changes leading into round three.

I think a few teams would have benefited from the two-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while others may find themselves behind the eight-ball when the action resumes.

1. Canberra Raiders (Last time: 1)

After two comfortable wins, the pressure lifts for the Raiders this week against the Storm. We'll soon see the injury return of John Bateman and whether any supposed issues with his contract will disrupt last year's grand finalists.

I'm not buying into the drama and I think they'll remain in the mix all year. Halfback George Williams will be more familiar with the team which can only be a positive.

2. Melbourne Storm (2)

Melbourne thrive under adversity, so they should have no issues rising to the challenges of this unprecedented season. The Storm boast the best player in the game in Cam Smith, a master coach in Craig Bellamy, and their systems are perfect for a real tilt at the title.

3. Parramatta Eels (3)

We'll soon know whether the premiership hype is real. The Eels began with wins over the Bulldogs and Titans, who we don't expect to see in the finals. Parra's credentials will be tested right away with a huge clash against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday.

The top tries from the 2019 season

4. Brisbane Broncos (4)

I think Brisbane's season will rest on halfback Brodie Croft's output. Hopefully he got his shoulder right over the break. If he can continue to steer the team around, freeing up five-eighth Anthony Milford, the Broncos are a serious threat - even with David Fifita injured.

5. Sydney Roosters (5)

The premiers would have relished the rest after a sapping 2019 and a trip overseas for the World Club Challenge in February. The shutdown also gave them more time to integrate halfback Kyle Flanagan into their systems as they aim to get their three-peat bid back on track.

It's game on

6. Manly Sea Eagles (6)

The break won't have harmed Manly either, given stars like Jake Trbojevic and Addin Fonua-Blake were perhaps a tad underdone coming off surgeries. They'll now be fully conditioned. With the talent in their side, the Sea Eagles are a dark horse to go all the way.

7. Newcastle Knights (10)

Signing ex-Queensland hooker Andrew McCullough was a very crafty move after Jayden Brailey's season-ending ACL injury. The likes of Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga were revelling in Brailey's slick dummy-half service, and McCullough will provide more of the same. Ponga is suspended this round but the Knights can manage.

8. Cronulla Sharks (11)

The Sharks have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the COVID-19 shutdown, with the rest period affording marquee players like Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan time to treat injuries. Cronulla would also have been able to iron out some kinks in their attack.

Moylan free of soft-tissue injuries, in line for Round 3 return

9. Penrith Panthers (7)

The two-game suspension of star half Nathan Cleary is a big blow for Penrith when you consider their upcoming opponents. First up are Newcastle, who I think are the better team right now, while the Warriors will be determined to fire after the sacrifices they've made.

10. South Sydney Rabbitohs (8)

Similarly, Cody Walker's two-game ban will really hurt the Rabbitohs, especially in the shortened season. There's no easing back into it for Souths, with a blockbuster against arch-rivals the Roosters on Friday.

Holmes happy to get two cracks at the Sharks

11. North Queensland Cowboys (9)

The Cowboys started the season solidly but I think they'll struggle while captain Michael Morgan is sidelined with a shoulder injury, however other guys like Scott Drinkwater, Jake Clifford and Valentine Holmes have the chance to step up.

12. Wests Tigers (12)

In round one the Tigers were outstanding, round two not so much when they conceded a lot of points. Can they play in front of no fans? When fully fit I think they could push up a few spots, but there's still some question marks over the Tigers.

McGregor: November Origin a boost for Dragons

13. St George Illawarra Dragons (13)

The Dragons need to win three of their next four games to drag themselves back into the competition and take some heat off Paul McGregor. With every loss that mounts, the pressure will increase and the coach's future will become a louder talking point.

14. Canterbury Bulldogs (14)

While the Bulldogs will be boosted by Kieran Foran's expected return from injury, their attacking performances in the first two rounds didn't suggest much had changed from 2019. They need an injection of excitement instead of just going through the plays.

Holbrook confident Titans have learnt from 0-2 start

15. Gold Coast Titans (16)

AJ Brimson is out with a long-term back injury and the Titans are set to restart the competition with an unsettled spine. For a team still building its culture, they need to show something out of the gates.

16. New Zealand Warriors (15)

It pains me to put the wounded Warriors in last place - I'll be cheering for them all year because they're sacrificing so much. Hopefully they can overcome a slew of injuries and start to climb the ladder.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.