NRL failures and flops in 2023: Where it went wrong for your team

NRL heavyweights South Sydney and Parramatta were among the most disappointing storylines of 2023.

Pictured left, South Sydney's Latrell Mitchell and Parramatta Eels NRL stars on the right.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs and Parramatta Eels have both underwhelmed in 2023 after being among the premiership favourites before the NRL season kicked off. Pic: Getty

SOUTH SYDNEY (9th): You will find a 404 error if you're looking for the story where we tipped the Bunnies to go all the way this year. The season's biggest disappointment – by far.

Highlight: Leading the NRL comp after 11 rounds. How quickly life can change.

Lowlight: Losing to arch-rivals the Roosters to miss out on the eight following a fortnight of vitriol, accusations and fallouts.

2024 Prospects: Will be a better side with Jack Wighton in it. Bank on a return to finals footy.

'HARD TO WATCH': Cowboys cop it as 'disappointing' truth laid bare

'SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB': Ugly fallout after Willie Mason spray

PARRAMATTA (10th): After reaching last year's grand final, fans hoped all those memes reminding them of the Eels' 36-year premiership drought would be history. Not so. They've just been updated to "37".

Highlight: Some teams haven’t beaten Penrith for years. The Eels managed it twice in one year.

Lowlight: The Eels just couldn’t get on a roll, losing their first three before a mid-season revival promised to turn things around. Heavy losses to the Warriors, Storm, Broncos and Roosters hurt.

2024 Prospects: Will have pretty much the same roster so again relying heavily on Dylan Brown, Clint Gutherson and Mitchell Moses to guide them back to the eight.

NORTH QUEENSLAND (11th): How does a team go from being one win away from a GF to not even making the eight 12 months later? Let the investigation begin.

Highlight: A surprise five-game winning streak – surprising because it was smack bang in the middle of Origin – was as good as it got.

Lowlight: Conceding 66 points to the wooden spooners followed by the feeble last round surrender to Penrith when a finals spot was on the line.

2024 Prospects: The talent is there but attitude wise the Cowboys failed to aim up. Todd Payten may need to make some tough calls over summer to get this team back to its 2022 standards.

MANLY (12th): At times looked a genuine top eight team after beating teams that will actually be in the finals. Will rue losing one or two games that were very winnable.

Highlight: The 18-8 win over Melbourne in round seven was a throwback to the days when teams genuinely feared a visit to Brookie Oval. It was as if Choc, BK, Gift and Stevie Matai were still out there. The Storm were bashed into submission.

Lowlight: The ongoing issues around Josh Schuster. This bloke has all the ability in the world but does he want it enough? On the evidence presented, you'd have to say no. Look for this story to grow further legs in 2024.

2024 Prospects: Very good. Luke Brooks' arrival on top of the return of Tom Trbojevic (insert praying emoji) should have them pressing in or around the top eight.

Seen here, Manly Sea Eagles star Josh Schuster.
Manly will be desperate to solve the dilemma around Josh Schuster in 2024. Pic: Getty

DOLPHINS (13th): A strong pass mark for the new boys. They've been a great addition to the competition and will only get stronger from here.

Highlight: How good were the first couple of months? The Dolphins were like the young bloke on his first buck's trip. They went hard early, winning four of the first six to occupy a spot in the top four, before crashing face first on the bed. They'll be better for the run.

Lowlight: Wayne Bennett's one-on-one exchange with the only journalist to attend the Dolphins' post-match press conference in Perth only proved blokes can sulk into their 70s. Conceding 106 points in back-to-back games against Manly and Parra was pretty crook.

2024 Prospects: Recruited well (Herbie Farnworth, Jake Averillo and Thomas Flegler) and will be very competitive.

GOLD COAST (14th): Another year, another failure. Two finals appearances in 13 years is almost Tigers-like.

Highlight: The re-signing of David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to long-term deals.

Lowlight: Justin Holbrook's head scratcher of a sacking. We’re still trying to work that one out, as is Justin and all the other clubs who came chasing after him. They were 5-8 when they punted him and 2-9 after he departed.

2024 Prosects: And you thought the Bulldogs' training demands were tough! Wait until you see what Des Hasler has in store for the Titans. They will be much improved.

CANTERBURY (15th): There's been a lot of talk about Gus Gould and five-year plans but there doesn’t look to be much of a blueprint at all judging from another embarrassing season. What's happened to this once great club?

Highlight: It seems hard to believe but the Dogs actually beat Melbourne 26-12 way back in March. Yes, it did happen but we had to check the NRL website just to make sure. Two more wins quickly followed before the wheels fell off and were last seen careering down Belmore Rd.

Lowlight: On the field, it’s hard to go past the 66-0 loss to Newcastle in round 18. But, unfortunately, there were plenty of other examples of the Dogs clocking off well before the 80-minute mark. Off- field has been just as disastrous.

2024 Prospects: Stephen Crichton is on his way but not a lot to suggest the Dogs will go anywhere near the eight.

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA (16th): A 5-19 win/loss record sealed a fifth straight year outside the top eight.

Highlight: Signing Shane Flanagan as coach from 2024 and somehow convincing – forcing? – skipper Ben Hunt to stay at least one more year.

Lowlight: Putting Anthony Griffin through a weekly walk to the gallows before the axe finally fell. Contestants kicked off Love Island are treated with more dignity. Losing to the Bulldogs and Tigers in consecutive weeks is up there (or down there) as well.

2024 Prospects: Flanno will need more than a year to turn this rabble around.

WESTS TIGERS (17th): Another year, another wooden spoon and another year without finals footy.

Highlight: The 66-18 win over North Queensland in round 12. Historians will look back at this result in 100 years and still be unable to fathom exactly how this happened. Don't look at us. We've got no idea, either.

Lowlight: Plenty to pick from here, including Justin Pascoe's attempt to look and dress like David Spade. But the messy departure of Tim Sheens probably tops the lot. Watching them wave the white flag in a number of games was also hard to stomach.

2024 Prospects: Sorry Tigers fans, it will be rinse and repeat

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