Sharks star Nicho Hynes hits back at ugly claims about NRL draw

Pictured here, Nicho Hynes during an NRL game for the Cronulla Sharks in 2022.
Nicho Hynes and the Cronulla Sharks have been on fire in the NRL in 2022. Pic: Getty

Hands up if you knew back in early March that Manly and Newcastle would stink the place out, Cronulla were definite top four material and the Titans would sit second last after making the eight in 2021.

Keep your hand up if you had North Queensland striving for a second premiership rather than staving off the wooden spoon and thought the Roosters and Rabbitohs would still be fighting to secure top eight berths two weeks out from the finals.

I don’t see many hands. Mine's certainly not up.

'IT HURTS': Star's heartbreaking reveal about Wests Tigers struggles

'I'M INTERESTED': Wayne Bennett's staggering Latrell Mitchell admission

'CAN'T DO THAT': Paul Gallen rips Phil Gould over 'crazy' call

This is what I wrote back in late December: "South Sydney become the story of the season, falling away alarmingly without Wayne Bennett and Adam Reynolds.

"The Bunnies still make the top eight but just don’t have the same potency, putting plenty of heat on first-year coach Jason Demetriou.

"We all knew they'd miss Reynolds and Wayne, but not to this extent.

"Melbourne also slip a peg or two, as do Parramatta.

"In fact, the Eels will share plenty of headlines with the Rabbitohs and Brad Arthur's future remains in the spotlight despite him signing an extended deal.

"Cronulla, Brisbane and Canterbury are the big improvers."

Not bad crystal balling on my part if I do say so myself, but a few misses all the same.

Which brings us to the NRL draw and claims some teams – most notably Cronulla and the Cowboys – have benefitted from a so-called "soft" draw.

Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing.

The Sharks' draw has them playing 12 games against top eight teams from last year, six of those against top four opposition.

The Cowboys, who many tipped to run last, were scheduled 11 games against top eight opponents, five against top four teams.

Sharks and Cowboys the biggest improvers in 2022

Remember, neither Cronulla nor North Queensland made the finals last year.

Some might say their draws looked fairly daunting when things kicked off way back in March.

You can't apply this season's placings when assessing a draw released before a ball was kicked.

Yet there's been suggestions this year's top four will be the weakest since the top eight system begun, due to draw inequalities.

The only inequality is clubs do not play each club does twice during the regular season, an impossibility in a 16-team competition.

We're stuck with the deal we've got.

Seen here, Cronulla Sharks recruit Nicho Hynes runs with the ball during an NRL game in 2022.
Cronulla Sharks recruit Nicho Hynes has been one of the standout players in the NRL in 2022. Pic: Getty

"They can say what they want to be honest," Sharks star Nicho Hynes said.

"We don't do the draws – they (the NRL) do the draws – and we can't help who we play each week.

"They don’t know who's going to be at the top or the bottom of the ladder when they do the draw every year.

"You can probably have a guess but some teams surprises you each year, some teams don't.

"The draw doesn’t really matter or bother us. We've had a hard month of footy not too long ago (and) every game's a hard game of footy in the NRL."

The NRL draw is not so much a matter of who you play against, but when you play them.

Knowing what we know now, a game against Manly in August is easier than in April.

You'd book in Newcastle during the winter months, not autumn.

Sometimes it all comes down to the luck of the draw.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.