The good, bad and ugly of the 2019 NRL Draw

The 2019 NRL draw was released last week, and as expected the various goods, bads and uglies were discussed in general and for each club.

Joining that discussion is this attempt to work out which NRL team got the silver spoon and plastic spork or grapes for the 2019 NRL draw.

There were few surprises in the new draw – Sundays at 4pm remain the domain of Sydney teams and easy access for Ray Warren to broadcast. The Broncos remain a Channel Nine favourite, and the same channel will only have to remember who plays for the Warriors just once.

Five-day turnarounds increased on last year sadly, and the polarising Thursday Night Football remains.

On a happy note, there are more games in the bush than ever. Perhaps an entire round or forcing every team to take a game to the country isn’t far away.

But this was written to determine the biggest loser and winner from the 2019 NRL draw. Several fields of the 2019 NRL draw were used, and each one ranked 16th to 1st. All fields are tallied and the most points has the worst of it for 2019. According to this anyway.

Spoiler alert – the answers are reasonably obvious.




Pretty obvious that New Zealand and North Queensland are going to top the overall travel for 2019. The Warriors and the Cowboys will clock up to 50,000km in their travels this season, 20,000 or so more than the Storm, Raiders and Broncos. They will also travel ten times more than the Roosters.

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But it wouldn’t be fair to have just the overall travel. So thrown in is the travel in the first six and last six regular season games. The Broncos do the most travelling early in the season, Parramatta get life much easier with a modest 315km of travel. The last six games’ most travelled will be the Cowboys and Warriors with 13,000km. The Wests Tigers bus won’t require much fuel at all, covering less than 100km to end the season.

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Most Travelled 2019 Season: Warriors 51,800km, Cowboys 49,300km, Storm 30,400km
Least Traveled 2019 Season: Roosters 5,000km, Tigers 9,700km
Most Traveled First Six Games: Broncos 3,700km, Storm 3,400km
Least Traveled First Six Games: Eels 300km, Roosters 900km
Most Traveled Last Six Games: Warriors 13,200km, Cowboys 13,200km,
Least Traveled Last Six Games: Tigers 100km, Sharks 200km



The ladder position of 2018 is a less trustworthy statistic when used to determine how bad the 2019 NRL draw is, due to the competition’s openness from season-to-season.

Overall it is pretty tight across the season, with not much between the teams who has the hardest fixtures (2018 season average finishing position of 7.9) to the Dragons with the “easiest” fixtures with 9.1.

It does change a little if you split it into the first six and last six games again. The Cowboys, Sea Eagles, Titans and Eels all face an opposition average finishing position of under 7.0. At the other end the Warriors, Raiders, Tigers, Dragons and Sharks have an average opposition in double figures.

The run home see the Knights with the golden run, their opposition figures is 12.0 on average, at the other end the Rabbitohs are more than half of that with 5.5.


Lowest 2018 Avg – all season: Cowboys 7.9, Bulldogs 8.0, Titan 8.0
Highest 2018 Avg – all season: Storm 9.0, Dragons 9.0
Lowest 2018 Avg –  first 6 games: Cowboys 6.2, Sea Eagles 6.5
Highest 2018 Avg – first 6 games: Warriors 11.0, Tigers 10.3, Raiders 10.3
Lowest 2018 Avg – last 6 games: Rabbitohs 5.5, Raiders 6.3
Highest 2018 Avg – last 6 games: Knights 12.0, Eels 10.8



Thursday night and the Friday 6pm kick offs are often regarded as the worst home games for clubs, only ready-made for TV.

So to work out the worst 2019 NRL draw, we highlight which teams have the most home games on these days.

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The Storm and Broncos top the Thursday night home game count with three each, at least giving the game a chance to get 15,000 to 20,000. The Warriors unsurprisingly don’t get a Thursday night game given the kick off time in Auckland. The Raiders and Knights miss out on the Thursday home game too.

Kings of the Foxtel-friendly timeslot of Friday 6pm are the Warriors with a solid five games, but this makes sense given the time zone. The Titans lead the Australian teams with three games. Four teams don’t have to play a home game at 6pm on a Friday.


Most Thursday Night Games: Storm 3, Broncos 3
Least Thursday Night Games: Warriors 0, Raiders 0, Knights 0
Most Friday 6pm Games: Warriors 5, Titans 3
Least Friday 6pm Games: Broncos 0, Sharks 0, Roosters 0, Storm 0



Free-to-Air football is a big thing for clubs, to get sponsorship and be featured for all rugby league fans, not just the smart Fox League snobs on 502.

So the more FTA games, the more value your club is seen as by the people who run the game – Channel Nine.

Once again there are no surprises with the Broncos dominating the early half of the Channel Nine weekly schedule, and Sydney teams with their own little Sunday afternoon club.

No surprises that two of the competition’s most entertaining/unpredictable teams get the fewest FTA games – the Warriors and Raiders. Some of the recent underperformed sides like the Knights and Titans get just a handful of FTA games, where as 2018 underperformed teams Bulldogs and Eels still get as many games as the Rabbitohs and Storm respectively. The Panthers continue a good run of TV games, although having Gus helps, at least they are entertaining. Mostly in the second half.


Most FTA Games: Broncos 16, Roosters 14, Dragons 14, Panthers 13
Least FTA Games: Warriors 1, Titans 3, Knights 4, Raiders 6



The five-day turnaround sucks, and is the best indicator of a bad 2019 NRL draw. Sadly there are more five-day turnarounds than last season. Getting rid of Thursday Night Football would help, but that won’t be happening in this broadcast deal.

Two Sydney clubs have the season-high five-day turnaround with three: Dragons and Tigers, whereas two teams miss out completely – the Rabbitohs and Panthers.

The full list is below.

Dragons 3
Tigers 3
Broncos 2
Bulldogs 2
Eels 2
Raiders 2
Roosters 2
Sharks 2
Storm 2
Titans 2
Cowboys 1
Knights 1
Sea Eagles 1
Warriors 1
Panthers 0
Rabbitohs 0



Sunday afternoon is the best time for football fans and clubs alike, but the 4pm kick off remain the property of Sydney mostly. So for other teams there are the scraps of Sunday 2pm kick offs as well.

So one would expect teams like the Roosters and Dragons to be leading the way with five Sunday games, the Sharks, Bulldogs and Panthers one game behind.

The highest non-Sydney team for Sunday games was the Titans with three. The Broncos do get one again this year. The Cowboys get none, but not a surprise given their love for a Saturday night game for travel reasons.

Note: only the daytime kick offs of 2pm and 4pm are included, as we’re talking Sunday daytime football.


Most Sunday Afternoon Games: Roosters 5, Dragons 5
Least Sunday Afternoon Games: Cowboys 0, Broncos 1, Knights 1, Eels 1




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Factoring in all of the above, and ranking the teams from 16th to 1st in each category, the North Queensland Cowboys have the most points across all of the various measurements. Not a surprise giving their distance away from the rest of the NRL.

Teams outside of Sydney also fared badly, with the Titans and Storm the next worst.

The Sydney team with the worst 2019 NRL draw, according to this, are the Eels in fourth.

At the other end, eight of the best nine 2019 NRL draw results are from Sydney, the Roosters with the “easiest” according to this, followed by the Dragons and Tigers.

For what it’s worth, here is the overall order. Worst to best.

Sea Eagles



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