James Salmon
James Salmon
NRL Betting Tips
Grand Final
Best Outsiders to Win the NRL Grand Final 2023

Heading into Preliminary Final weekend, the Panthers and the Broncos are the clear favourites to battle it out for the 2023 NRL Premiership. After finishing in the top two spots at the end of the home and away season they were both as methodical as it gets in the first week of finals, each of them racking up 26 points each and securing home prelims as a result. But with only two weeks left in the season, all of the four teams remaining would deservedly see themselves as legitimate chances to take out this year’s flag. The Panthers and Broncos have well and truly earned the expectations which are on their shoulders, but with that come some pretty short odds to make the 2023 NRL Grand, so below, we’re going to take a look at the two teams offering a little more value to make it to the last weekend of the season.

Updated: 20 September 2023

Favourites to make the 2023 NRL Grand Final

Best Outsiders to make the 2023 NRL Grand Final

New Zealand Warriors

After a brilliant season, the Warriors were always viewed as the dark horse out of the top four teams and were expected to have a tough time in their opening round against the Panthers. They did. The Warriors got smacked around by the Panthers, who beat them 32-6 to send the Warriors to what loomed as a tough semi-final matchup with the red-hot Knights. They came out of the blocks every bit like the top four side they were all season, scoring three tries in the first 11 minutes to jump out to a 16-0 lead, but that was gradually whittled away and early in the second half the Knights got it back to 16-10. But from there, the Warriors switched back into gear, scoring four more tries for the remainder of the game to eventually run out 40-10 winners over a team that hadn’t lost for ten consecutive matches.

They’re now just a game away from a Grand Final berth, something that virtually no one would have expected at the start of the year. To get there, however, they’ll have to knock off the Broncos in Brisbane, which is clearly no easy task. Last time they travelled to take on a top two opponent they were smashed by the Panthers, but they would probably rather this matchup and there is a little bit in their favour. Throughout the course of the season, the Warriors have generally travelled pretty well, going 8-4 on the road prior to the finals, while the Broncos haven’t been quite as dominant at Suncorp as one might expect, their own record there just 7-5 during the home and away season. Still, Brisbane are the better team and their crowd will give them a leg up for sure, but the Warriors aren’t entirely without a chance of winning this game and making their way into the Grand Final.

  • What brings them here? The Warriors have been great this year and have shown a huge amount of improvement, and though they were beaten soundly by Penrith in week one of the finals, a bounce back win against the Knights saw them into the prelim. 
  • What has changed? For one thing, an ability to base themselves back in New Zealand. Oh, and heaps of personnel. They brought in a large number of players, including Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Luke Metcalf, Dylan Walker, MarataNiukore and Te Maire Martin to name just a few. They also lost Reece Walsh, Eliesa Katoa, Aaron Pene, Euan Aitken, Jack Murchie and Ben Murdoch-Masila.  
  • Injury update: Shaun Johnson returned successfully for their semi-final, so he’ll be right to go for this one. Luke Metcalf, ValingiKepu, DemitricSifakula and Ali Leiataua are the other names on their injury list, and they won’t play again this season. 

Bet on the New Zealand Warriors to make the Grand Final at $3.90

Melbourne Storm

Despite hitting the finals series in pretty good form and boosted by the return of Ryan Papenhuyzen, the Storm’s start to the finals series was an unmitigated disaster. They failed to score and gave up 26 points against the Broncos, and what’s more they lost Papenhuyzen to an ankle injury for the season, while Jahrome Hughes and Xavier Coates was also hurt. With a straight sets exit a possibility, they went perilously close to losing to the Roosters and with just a couple of minutes to go were down by a point. But they responded when they needed it most, with a 78th minute try keeping their season alive and booking them a Preliminary Final against the Panthers.

Of course, that’s about as tough a matchup as there is. If the Storm can get through this one then a Premiership is well and truly on the cards, but that’s a huge if. They will of course have to do it without Papenhuyzen, and though they’ll be boosted by the return of Jahrome Hughes, Coates will be another notable absentee from the game. In a match in which they need all the help they can get, that’s far from ideal. Three years ago these two sides played off in a Grand Final and the Storm won, but since then the Panthers have gone on to kick off a dynasty and are well placed to make it three flags in as many years in 2023. The Storm will be hoping to ruin those dreams, but they have a very tough task ahead of them.

  • What brings them here? The Storm have been in or around the top four all season and deservedly earned a double chance,but a loss to the Broncos in week one of the finals meant a home Preliminary Final was off the table. Fortunately, however, they snuck over the line against the Roosters last week to make it to the final four.
  • What has changed? The Storm lost a number of their starting team from last year in the off-season, headlined by Brandon Smith, and that’s no doubt had an impact. They did, however, welcome a couple of good players too, notably Tariq Sims and Eliesa Katoa. 
  • Injury update: As mentioned, Ryan Papenhuyzen is a huge out for the Storm. Xavier Coates will also miss in another big blow, though Jahrome Hughes has been named to make a Preliminary Final return. Tui Kamikamicasuffered a head knock against the Roosters but has also been named to play.

Bet on the Melbourne Storm to make the Grand Final at $4.75

Best Outsider Prediction to Win the 2023 Grand Final

There’s a good reason that the Panthers and Broncos are clear favourites to play off in the 2023 NRL Grand Final. They’ve been clearly the best teams all year and have only solidified that fact in the solitary final they’ve each played so far, and what’s more they’ll get to play at their home grounds in front of maniacal crowds. But finals can do strange things to teams, and if they let up even an inch then both the Warriors and the Storm are capable of capitalising. But while the Storm finished higher than the Warriors, the Panthers have been here a lot more than the Broncos, and it feels less likely that the enormity of the situation will overwhelm them. It won’t necessarily do that to the Broncos either, but having not been here for a few years it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they stumble a little. If they do, the Warriors will be ready and waiting to pounce.

New Zealand Warriors  – Best Outsiders to Make the 2023 Grand Final


Recent upset Grand Final winners

  • 2016 – Cronulla Sharks 14 Melbourne Storm 12
  • 2015 – North Queensland Cowboys 17 Brisbane Broncos 16
  • 2001 – Newcastle Knights 30 Parramatta Eels 24
  • 1999 – Melbourne Storm 20 St George Illawarra Dragons 18

Recent upset losing Grand Finalists

  • 2019 – Canberra Raiders
  • 2017 – North Queensland Cowboys
  • 2011 – New Zealand Warriors
  • 2005 – North Queensland Cowboys

Current clubs yet to play in an NRL Grand Final

  • Gold Coast Titans – 2007 to Present

James is a sports writer from Melbourne, and has contributed to a variety of publications covering a range of sports including basketball, cricket, Australian Rules, golf and surfing to name a few. An avid fan of all of the above and more, James’ downtime is spent falling ungracefully off his surfboard, turning over footies and playing an out of tune guitar.