The 2022 NRL campaign is done and dusted for another year and it is fair to say it was a cracker of a season from start to finish.
Rugby League fans in Australia and all over the globe will now be wondering how they will fill their weekends without the excitement of the NRL.
But now the dust is starting to settle we can start to reflect on the season and take a look at the big winners and of course some of the losers.
There were some fantastic games throughout the campaign with some big performances from players who have been around for a while and those who are also breaking through.
Some teams have also failed to live up to expectations, some have slipped down the ladder in alarming fashion, while unfortunately some coaches have also lost their jobs
So let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the 2022 NRL campaign.
The Panthers were once again the star performers of the 2022 season and were the big winners when taking out the both the minor premiership and grand final for the second year running.
They hardly put a foot wrong all season and no-one can say they did not deserve everything they got.
Penrith slipped to four defeats throughout the season, two against Parramatta, but they still finished at the top of the pile, four points clear of the Cronulla Sharks in second.
Then when it came to finals they took their game to the next level and blew away everything that was put in front of them, including the Eels in the grand final.
The scary thing for the rest of the comp is they are showing no signs of slowing down and will take some beating in 2023 as well.
The Cowboys were one of the huge success stories of the 2022 season. They may have suffered heartbreak in the end when losing the preliminary final to Parramatta, but they should still be very proud of what they achieved.
Not many outside of Townsville would have given the Cowboys a chance of making the top eight never mind finishing in third and reaching a preliminary final.
Coach Todd Payten helped to transform them from a side struggling in the lower reaches of the NRL, to one pushing for honours.
And they look sure to do the same in 2023. Some real talents have emerged this season including Jeremiah Nanai, who was one of the stars of the campaign and will only get better.
Watch out for the Cowboys again next year.
Very much like the Cowboys, the Sharks were also one of the surprise packages of the season when finishing second on the ladder.
They lost to the Cowboys in the semi-final and were left feeling distraught, but they too should be very proud and take the positives out of what has been a great campaign.
Coached by Craig Fitzgibbon in his first season, they were consistent throughout the regular season and fully deserved to finish second.
Nicho Hynes was the stand-out player for them and the Sharks look sure to make further improvements in 2023.
On to the losers and let’s start with the Titans. Hopes and expectations were high heading into the 2022 season as they looked to be making progress under coach Justin Holbrook.
They made finals in 2021 and although they fell at the first hurdle, they were expected to make the eight again in the new season.
However instead of making progress they slumped down the ladder in alarming fashion. They lost 10 games on the bounce in the middle of the season and managed to win just six games all year.
They did manage to win three of the last four games, but still finished miles away from the top eight and now it remains to be seen if Holbrook will keep his job for next season.
The Tigers had not made finals for 11 years heading into the season and the pressure was on for coach Michael Maguire to deliver after the powers that be gave him a vote of confidence.
However he couldn’t and the Tigers started the season badly when losing their opening five games. They briefly rallied with back-to-back wins over the Eels and Rabbitohs that saved Maguire from the axe and offered hope for the future.
The Tigers then reverted to type and Maguire lost his job with Brett Kimmorley taking over on an interim basis. He could not do any better and the Tigers ended with the first wooden spoon in their history.
Tim Sheens has been handed the reins from the start of 2023 with Benji Marshall and Robbie Farrah set to work alongside him. It remains to be seen if the trio can turn things around.