Foward Pass: 2023 NRL Predictions with a Twist

The fake news that’s actually fake.

With the 2023 season almost here, it’s time for The Forward Pass to deliver their (no-so serious) predictions. Will any of these come true?


Sick and tired of Peter V’landys and Andrew Abdo behaving like spoilt children bored with a new toy, Phil ‘Gus’ Gould uses his influence to overthrow them and become the new NRL boss.

“Footy needs to be run by footy people, not businessmen on a power trip who buys off all their critics with a fancy day at the races,” said Gus.

”I’m one of the game’s sharpest minds, I survived the Super League War, and will have the game’s best interests at heart. And I won’t change the rules on a whim because I’m in a d***-measuring contest with Aussie Rules and Rugby Union.”

After resigning from his roles at Canterbury-Bankstown and Channel Nine, Gus quickly put his promises into action, starting with one huge change…

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…returning the NRL Grand Final to a fan-friendly afternoon timeslot. While it wasn’t the cherished 3pm kick-off of the Winfield Cup days, fans were still happy with a 4pm start. It’s the first genuine afternoon grand final since Brisbane vs Sydney Roosters in 2000 (not counting the twilight grand finals in the mid-2000s).

While Nine’s CEO Mike Sneesby wasn’t happy, Gus found a way to placate him. Channel Nine will have two news bulletins on NRL Grand Final day (one at 3pm and one at 7pm), followed by a special edition of A Current Affair. Both the news bulletins and ACA will be broadcast live from Accor Stadium.

While Gus copped some backlash for giving Nine so many concessions, he said it was essential to get his coveted afternoon grand final.

”I love afternoon footy, so I did what was necessary to get what I wanted.”

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After decades of campaigning – and more rumours about it than a potential Oasis reunion – the North Sydney Bears will return to the NRL in 2024.

With Gould keen to have an even number of teams, and realising that another NSW-based team was unrealistic, he chose to relocate the Bears to Perth.

The ‘Western Bears’ will play up to nine home games in Perth (HBF Park), while home games against the Bears’ traditional Sydney rivals will be at North Sydney Oval.

Norths legend Greg Florimo, who was named the Western Bears’ inaugural CEO, was overjoyed.

”It’s not the full-time return to North Sydney, or even the Central Coast, but it’ll do.”

To further the nostalgic glow, the Western Bears’ home jersey will be modelled on their classic mid-90s red, white, and black strip, with gold armbands to represent Western Australia. The North Sydney NSW Cup side will act as a feeder club to the Western Bears.

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Australia and New Zealand will host a festival of Test footy in October/November 2023, with nine nations playing in the Five Nations and the Pacific Cup.

The Five Nations (Australia, New Zealand, England, Tonga, and Samoa) will be played across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, and Auckland, with each nation playing four Tests.

The Pacific Cup (featuring PNG, Fiji, Cook Islands, and Lebanon) will be played across suburban Sydney, the Sunshine Coast, and Redcliffe, with each nation playing three Tests.

The Pacific Cup and Five Nations finals (featuring the top two teams from each tournament) will be played as a double-header at Lang Park.

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Keen for off-season content, Fox League launch Mad Mondays, a six-part docu-reality series hosted by Braith Anasta.

With the first episode airing on NRL Grand Final night, the show is promoted heavily during the finals series, promising “an intimate and uncensored look at how NRL sides celebrate the end of a long season”.

But the show’s ‘hidden camera’ style is slammed, with critics calling it “the lowest of the low gutter reality TV” and “Mad Mondays is so vile it makes the Kardashians’ reality show empire look tasteful.”

A lot of NRL clubs are furious over the privacy violation, forcing Fox Sports to axe the show after one episode, with The Best of Fletch and Hindy airing in its place.

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The Forward Pass is a fictional and deliberately ridiculous look at the NRL. References to real people is for satirical purposes only. Check it out on Twitter @thefwdpass

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