NRL – Top 8 NRL 2023 Betting Odds & Expert’s Predictions

James Salmon
James Salmon
NRL Betting Tips
Expert Predictions
NRL Expert Prediction 2023

With just a week to go in the NRL home and away season, the bulk of the top eight is locked away. There are, however, a few spots still up for grabs, and over the course of Round 27 four teams will battle it out for the final two spots in the finals. Making things even more interesting is the fact that two of them are playing one another, while the other two are playing teams who are already locked away into the finals. Let’s take a look at what each of those four teams needs to happen in Round 27 to finish inside the top eight.

Updated: 30 August 2023


NRL Outsiders Odds to make the Top 8 in 2023

Best Outsider Teams to make the Top 8 in 2023

Canberra Raiders

The Raiders have been locked away relatively comfortably inside the top eight for much of the season – excluding after a little bit of a slow start – with a run which saw them win nine of 11 games putting them in the box seat to lock away a finals position. As impressive as that run was, however, there’s no doubting there was a little bit of luck, with every one of those victories coming by a small margin, so there was always the prospect of them falling away as the season wore on. That has happened to an extent, with four of their last six games resulting in losses, but they have still managed to keep their destiny in their own hands heading into the final round of the year.

They find themselves in seventh with a week to go, a game clear inside the eight, though there is a big but – they play the Sharks this weekend, who are one spot ahead of them, and courtesy of a terrible points differential a loss will put their finals hopes in jeopardy. If they do lose, whichever of the Rabbitohs and Roosters wins their clash will pass the Raiders, sending them to eighth. That means their life will be in the hands of the Cowboys. North Queensland has the toughest matchup in the league, heading to Penrith to take on the Panthers, but their opponent won’t have quite the same incentive to win as they do. If the Cowboys win that one, they’ll also pass the Raiders. So the equation is simple for the Raiders – beat the Sharks, and they’re in. Lose, and if the Cowboys win they’re out. It’s more likely than not that they end up in the eight, but their odds to make it look too short.

  • What brings them here? A great run of form through the middle of the year is why they’re in the mix, but some less impressive form recently has put their finals hopes in danger.
  • What has changed? The Raiders have a bit of a different team this year to last. They added Danny Levi from the UK and PasamiSaulo from Newcastle, while each of Josh Hodgson, Adam Elliott, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Harry Rushton and Ryan Sutton finding new homes. 
  • Injury update: Josh Papalii has unfortunately been ruled out for the season with a biceps injury, joining Jayden Braileyand Bailey Hodgson on the sidelines. That aside, Corey Harawira-Naera is out indefinitely while Corey Horsburgh won’t play again this year through suspension unless the Raiders make the Grand Final.

Bet on the Raiders to make the top 8 at $1.14

South Sydney Rabbitohs

For a team which has been widely regarded as a Premiership threat all season long, the Rabbitohs have left it mighty late to lock in a spot in the top eight. After seemingly putting themselves in a good position a few weeks out they’ve struggled of late, losing four of their last six, six of their last nine, and if we hark all the way back to May, eight of their last 12. It’s not exactly a form line which inspires a lot of confidence, but despite it they’re inside the top eight with one game to go. 

 The situation for them is simple. Win in Round 27, and they’re in – lose, and they’re out. And of course, who do they happen to be playing but their arch nemesis in the Roosters, for whom the situation is much the same. This is a home and away Elimination Final between two of the oldest rivals in the game, and this and this alone will determine whether the Bunnies play finals. Their odds to make the finals are subsequently the same as their odds to win the game, so whether they’re good value depends on whether you think they’ll beat the Roosters. They’re certainly not the form side in that game, but they will be playing on their home turf.

  • What brings them here? The Rabbitohs are led by a talented core, but a few injuries and poor form have seen them fail to perform to their expected level.
  • What has changed? The Rabbitohs side in 2023 is much the same as it was last year, with Mark Nicholls, Kodi Nikorima and Jaxson Paulo the only players with new NRL homes this year.
  • Injury update: Latrell Mitchell and Thomas Burgess will both miss their must-win Round 27 clash through suspension.

Bet on the South Sydney Rabbitohs to make the top 8 at $1.75

Sydney Roosters

The Roosters’ season hasn’t unfolded exactly like that of the Rabbitohs, but here they are with one week to go in the home and away season, virtually in the same position. After they were expected to contend for a Premiership this year they found their season in tatters partway through, and were virtually out of finals contention a month ago. As it turned out they would have needed to win each of their last five games to give themselves a chance of making it, and as it happens they’ve won four in a row heading into the final weekend.

They’ve given themselves a shot at making it, but they will need to get past the Rabbitohs first. The Roosters are sitting in tenth with one game to go so there are a couple of teams to get past, and a win against the Bunnies won’t guarantee them a spot in the eight. It will, however, make it pretty likely. They’re on the same number of points as the Rabbitohs, so a win will see them surpass the Bunnies – from there they just need to get past one more team. If they do win, a Cowboys loss to the Panthers will see the Roosters pass them, while if the Raiders lose to the Sharks their woeful points differential will also see them passed by the Roosters. So basically – the Roosters need to win, and need just one of the Cowboys and Raiders to lose, and they’re in. With their form they’re a good chance to beat the Rabbitohs this weekend, but with a couple of variables their odds are slightly longer than simply the head to head in that game.

  • What brings them here? A horrible run of form saw the Roosters go from a near Premiership favourite and top four contender to needing to flick a switch just to get close to the finals, but they’ve flicked it just in time.
  • What has changed? The Roosters had a few changes in the offseason, with SiosiuaTaukeiaho and Adam Keighran heading overseas alongside Kevin Naiqama, while Sam Verrills was a big loss. But they brought in Brandon Smith from the Storm, as well as Jaxson Paulo, Jake Turpin and Corey Allan
  • Injury update: The Roosters injury list is a lot shorter than what it was, though still far from ideal. Connor Watson, Paul Momirovski and SitiliTupouniua have indefinite timelines, and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is suspended until finals.  

Bet on the Roosters to make the top 8 at $2.15

North Queensland Cowboys

The final team with a chance of making their way into the finals is the Cowboys. A few months ago, they would have been thrilled with the prospect of still being in the mix this late in the season. A few weeks ago, however, they would have been disappointed to have not locked in a spot. Such has been the erratic nature of their season – last year’s Preliminary Finalists were terrible over the first half of the year, then hit a run of form that made them look like a genuine contender once again, only to again start to struggle with a finals spot within their grasp.

Now, the situation is simple – win in Round 27 and they’re probably in, lose and they’re definitely not. Unfortunately for them, they have to play the Panthers in Penrith, not exactly an easy trip. The Panthers have lost five home and away games there in four years so the Cowboys are certainly up against it, though they will at least be aided by the fact that Penrith has already locked in a top two spot and can only move up to first if the Broncos lose – and even then it probably doesn’t necessarily advantage them. That gives the Cowboys some chance, but it will still be tough, and adding to their difficulties are the other variables at play. If they win and the Roosters beat the Rabbitohs, they’re definitely in. But if the Rabbitohs win, then they’ll likely need the Sharks to beat the Raiders to ensure their spot. So in summary; the Cowboys need to beat the Panthers, and for one of the Roosters and Sharks to win. If that happens, they play finals.

  • What brings them here? Last year, the Cowboys were Preliminary Finalists, but they haven’t looked like that except for a couple of month stint this season. 
  • What has changed? The Cowboys lost a host of players to the Dolphins, with each of Tom Gilbert, Connelly Lemuelu and Hamiso Tubuai-Fidow heading to the NRL’s newest team, while Ben Condon was a big loss too. Coming in were just James Tamou and Jack Gosiewski.
  • Injury update: Valentine Holmes is out until finals through suspension, while Jeremiah Nanai and Semi Valemei will also miss Round 27.

Bet on the North Queensland Cowboys to win the Premiership at $4.05

Best Outsider Prediction to make the Top 8 in 2023

The Raiders are the best-placed to make it of the above teams, but they are too short in my view and should be avoided. One of the Roosters and Rabbitohs will almost certainly make it, and at slightly better odds and in the better form the Roosters look like the value bet there. The Cowboys clearly offer the most value, btu that’s for good reason. Of all of the above teams, with a good run of form behind them and an almost guaranteed spot if they win, the Roosters look like the best value to make the top eight heading into the final round.

Sydney Roosters – Best Outsiders to Make the Top 8 in 2023

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.