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A season of two halves: How each team's travelling at midway point

Ten rounds into the shortened 2020 NRL season, it's time to assess each club's positives, negatives, standout players and finals chances as we head into the home straight.

To say it's been an unusual season is the biggest understatement since 1908 but the good news is that unlike many sporting competitions around the world, the Telstra Premiership is on track to complete its season as we head into the second half of the revised 20-round format.

And if you want to calculate how the rest of the season will play out, you can access the ladder predictor with a free NRL Account where you can also add in hypothetical margins to ensure the for and against records are included when you predict how the finals series will play out.

Your club's mid-season report:
Broncos
Raiders Bulldogs |
Sharks | TitansSea Eagles 
|
Storm | Knights Warriors |
Eels | Cowboys |
Panthers |
Rabbitohs | Dragons |
Roosters 
| Wests Tigers |

NRL 2020 mid-season report card

Penrith Panthers

  • Record: 8-1-1 (1st)
  • Attack: 240 points (4th)
  • Defence: 144 points (4th)

On the upside: Any question marks around Penrith possibly missing James Maloney in the halves have been quashed with Nathan Cleary stepping up enormously to help take the team to the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder.

The halfway mark: Try of the year

Impressive wins over the Roosters and Storm have also proven they're not only knocking off teams unlikely to challenge for a title. Better yet, they're winning the key moments when games are on the line.

On the downside: Can the Panthers keep their hot form going for the next four months? And will Trent Barrett give up his assistant role and move to a rival club for a head coach's role early?

The Panthers are going so well it's hard to find any downside to their game but Barrett's potential early exit may prove a distraction. His influence in improving Penrith's attack this season is hard to ignore.

Cleary seals the win for Penrith

On another note, Penrith's new recruits Zane Tetevano and Kurt Capewell have been sidelined for most of the season through injury which could affect their depth late in the year.

Best player: James Fisher-Harris. You could pick half a dozen players here but if the player of the year award was handed out tomorrow, Fisher-Harris may just have the edge.

His move to prop has worked a treat for Ivan Cleary with the Kiwi international returning averaging 199 running metres (including 72.5 post-contact) per outing and 38.1 tackles.

His biggest struggle last year was missed tackles, but those numbers too have dropped substantially from 3.9 to 1.8 per game.

Roster outlook: Penrith are relatively settled for recruitment and retention – even offering prop Jack Hetherington to the Warriors on a loan deal.

Panthers skipper James Tamou and utility Tyrone May are among the names without deals for next year.

Mansour praises youth for taking Panthers to next level

It's unlikely the club will chase anyone on the market for next season.

Finals chances: All signs point to a top-four finish for the Panthers – they're already halfway there. It would take some sort of major form slump to see them slip out of the top eight from here.

The minor premiership is 13 competition points (seven wins) away from their grasp according to NRL.com's cut-off – the best-case scenario for the club.

Speed kills: How tempo has changed Cleary's game

Parramatta Eels

  • Record: 8-2 (2nd)
  • Attack: 228 points (6th)
  • Defence: 118 points (1st)

On the upside: One word: defence. The team's resilience has made for pleasant viewing and they've set a benchmark that could see them compete for a title. After being pummelled 32-0 by the Storm in the finals last year, the Eels have learnt their lesson and appear stronger for the experience.

Eels buoyed by the return of Moses

Mitchell Moses's return from a calf injury this week should also hold them in good stead to push on and get back to their attacking best after their second loss of the year last round.

On the downside: The recent injury toll has sorely tested their depth. Moses's absence has put extra pressure on the remaining playmakers (a test they rose to up until last week's loss to Manly) while the absence of Kane Evans, Oregon Kaufusi, Ray Stone, Peni Terepo and Ryan Matterson made for a very inexperienced bench against Manly. 

Best player: Clint Gutherson. 'King Gutho' is second on the Dally M leaderboard after 10 rounds and it's no surprise to see why. The Eels captain has led from the front for his side, particularly when they lost Moses to a calf injury in round seven. He's not the most skilful of fullbacks in the game but he makes up for it through pure effort.

Gutherson provides again, this time for Sivo

Roster outlook: The Eels brought Jordan Rankin back from the UK and are unlikely to chase anyone else before the August 3 deadline. Most of their big-name players are tied down with only Kane Evans and Brad Takairangi without contracts for next season.

Jai Field is on a modest deal and looms as a player who may be worth keeping as a back-up half for 2021.

Finals chances: The sky is the limit for the Eels after a strong first half of the season. A top-four finish appears certain if they can win at least five of their remaining 10 clashes.

Their likely worst-case scenario is the bottom half of the eight but given their dominant start they'd be expected to kick on from here.

Farah predicts extra spice when Matterson faces old teammates

Melbourne Storm

  • Record: 8-2 (3rd)
  • Attack: 237 points (5th)
  • Defence: 128 points (2nd)

On the upside: We're yet to see the Storm at their consistent best yet they sit comfortably in third position and look likely to threaten for the title again this year.

They've had to overcome multiple travel hurdles to get where they are, which may also have disrupted parts of the early season form. Cameron Munster's return from a knee injury was timely last week as they build towards perfection with their attack.

Defensively, the side remain one of the best in the competition.

The halfway mark: Tackle of the year

On the downside: No more games at AAMI Park this year is a blow to the team's home ground advantage, where they usually win 74 per cent of games. The squad is now also in a similar position to the Warriors, where they're away from family friends for the next four months – will that take a toll?

Best player: Cameron Smith. The rugby league mastermind may have had some doubters when the new rules were introduced but statistically, he's going even better than last season with eight try assists after 10 games and 51.6 run metres per outing – his best efforts since their premiership-winning 2017 season.

Smith even pulled off a successful stint at halfback against the premiers in round eight as icing on a cake that continues to deliver for the Victorian outfit. Like a fine wine, he's getting better with age and the key to his side's premiership hopes.

Asofa-Solomona does it again

Roster outlook: Speaking of Smith, at 37, his future will continue to be the subject of speculation until he hangs up the boots either at the end of this season, next season or beyond.

The emergence of Harry Grant on loan at the Wests Tigers could affect Smith's decision with the rising hooker's form up there with the NRL's best. The Storm's other recruitment dilemma lies with their wingers.

Suliasi Vunivalu's defection to rugby is compounded by Josh Addo-Carr wanting to return to Sydney.   

Finals chances: You can just about lock the Storm in for their 10th consecutive finals series – they could finish as high as first. You'd be brave to leave them out of the top six in even a worst-case effort.

A rematch against the Roosters and clash with the Eels in August looms as a treat before the finals.

Newcastle Knights

  • Record: 6-1-3 (4th)
  • Attack: 207 points (7th)
  • Defence: 160 points (6th)

On the upside: There's plenty to like about the direction Newcastle is headed with their defensive efforts improving dramatically compared to previous seasons and their forward pack matching the likes of the Roosters and Eels statistically.

We're yet to see the team truly hit their straps in attack, which is an ominous sign in itself if they click before the finals. The club's depth is also beginning to shine through with youngsters Tex Hoy, Brodie Jones and Pasami Saulo proving more than capable of filling a role.

On the downside: Some opposition coaches have done their homework on the attacking structures around Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce, leaving the rest of the team's inability to score points exposed.

Ponga's former team North Queensland showed rivals the way to shut the pair down in round seven and the Eels followed suit a fortnight later. It's an area the Knights will need to improve on if they want to go deep into finals footy.

Best player: Daniel Saifiti. You could probably flip a coin between Saifiti and Kurt Mann, who have both found career-best consistency under Adam O'Brien this season. Saifiti's development has sky-rocketed since his Origin debut last season and he's partnering David Klemmer up front nicely.

The Fijian international will miss at least another month with a knee injury but prior to that was punching out averages that included 161 running metres and 32.5 tackles per game.

Daniel Saifiti outmuscles several Broncos

Roster outlook: Newcastle have their roster for this season sorted after picking up Andrew McCullough for the rest of the year. McCullough is unlikely to stay at the club with Jayden Brailey due for a return from a knee reconstruction next season. Jacob Saifiti has just finalised a new deal, while Connor Watson remains another priority for management to tie down.

Aidan Guerra, Mason Lino and Tautau Moga also remain without contracts for next season.

Finals chances: Knights fans will only have to cast their minds back to last season when the team was sitting pretty in the top four midway through the year, only to crumble out of finals contention. Mathematically it could happen again.

However, this team has far more upside under Adam O'Brien and with the shortened 20-round format this year. They've gone win-loss-win-loss since their draw against Penrith in round three but with six of their remaining 10 games on home turf, a top two-four finish is not out of reach.

Fitzgibbon not 'counting chickens before they hatch'

Sydney Roosters

  • Record: 6-4 (5th)
  • Attack: 288 points (1st)
  • Defence: 136 points (2nd)

On the upside: Kyle Flanagan has slotted into the vacant No.7 jersey with ease and that has enabled the Tricolours to continue on with their attacking ways. Likewise too with Josh Morris, who has made a seamless transition from the Sharks to replace Latrell Mitchell on the left edge.

On the downside: Season-ending injuries to Victor Radley and Sam Verills leave the squad's forward depth light on. The Roosters have been soft by their own standards around the middle of the paddock in recent weeks – an area opposition teams may look to target down the track.

Best player: Luke Keary. You take Keary out of the Roosters side and it's a different ball game for the Tricolours. His 10 try assists for this season is on track to match last year's efforts.

The 28-year-old is running the ball now more than any other year also with an average of 83.54 metres per game. An Origin debut with NSW beckons for Keary if he can get through the next three and a half months unscathed. 

Keary has a double as the Roosters continue to surge

Roster outlook: Trent Robinson said last week the club wasn't interested in looking externally for further hooker depth this season despite injuries to Radley and Verrills, declaring he's settled on the 32-man squad they've assembled.

The Morris brothers' futures appear to be the biggest talking point leading into next year – do they have another year left in them? All signs point to yes.

Finals chances: You'd be brave to write off the two-time defending champions after a bumpy first half of the season. They're not where they've been in previous years in terms of results but they'll be up there in the top four by season's end and pushing for a third consecutive title.

Another 6-4 effort in the second half of the season, however, could see them fall short of the top four for the first time four years.

Canberra Raiders

  • Record: 6-4 (6th)
  • Attack: 188 points (10th)
  • Defence: 153 points (5th)

On the upside: Canberra's recent win over the Sydney Roosters in the grand final rematch proved they cannot be written off despite the season-ending injury to Josh Hodgson. George Williams's arrival has largely been a success and the team has a softer draw in the second half of the season.   

On the downside: The injury toll the club has been hit with was described by Ricky Stuart as the worst he's seen during his time in charge as coach. The loss of John Bateman before the season kicked off was a big blow for Stuart's men which was then compounded by an avalanche of long-term injuries to middle forwards.

Despite the gutsy win over the Roosters we're still yet to see what extent Hodgson's injury will impact the side in the long run.

Best player: Josh Papalii. It was a difficult decision to split the points between he and Jack Wighton but Papalii's form this season has been career-best, not just statistically but noticeably on the paddock. He is now even more crucial to the side's go-forward following their injury toll. 

Papalii cruises over as Roosters defence left wanting

Roster outlook: The Raiders are desperate to add a couple of forwards to their stocks prior to the August 3 deadline given their long-term injuries in the engine room.

Ricky Stuart remained tight-lipped when asked last week around the personnel he was after but it's likely the club will pick a player or two up after letting go the likes of fringe forwards JJ Collins, Jack Murchie and Luke Bateman in recent months.

Canberra are all but resigned to losing Nick Cotric to Canterbury, just weeks after John Bateman announced his looming departure. Sia Soliola and Tom Starling remain off-contract for next season.

Finals chances: The Raiders are destined for a top-eight finish with five home games remaining and eight of their final 10 clashes against teams below them on the ladder.

A top-four spot will be the aim (at least eight wins in their final 10 games) and with the return of John Bateman before the finals there's every possibility they'll get there. However, the bottom half of the eight appears their more likely destination this season.

NRL players open to SBW return

Wests Tigers

  • Record: 5-5 (7th)
  • Attack: 245 points (3rd)
  • Defence: 177 (8th)

On the upside: Points have been flowing for Michael Maguire's men in the first half of the season, while they've addressed their defensive deficiencies nice and early in a bid to ensure there are no slip-ups towards the end of the year.

Maguire has also settled on a fullback in Adam Doueihi after the club found it tough going following the departure of James Tedesco in 2017. 

On the downside: The recent suspensions of Joey Leilua and Josh Reynolds show the team's discipline still needs to be worked on in the second half of the year. The club has missed the finals in previous years through the thinnest of margins. Any more stepping out of line could only hamper their chances further.

Best player: Harry Grant. No player has made a more immediate impact at a club in recent memory than the Storm hooker on loan to the joint venture for this season.

Grant breaks the Broncos through the middle

The team's dynamics in attack have completely changed since the skilful dummy half arrived in June. Grant's exit from Concord at season's end will be a bittersweet one, particularly if he can guide the club to their first finals campaign since 2011. 

Roster outlook: The Tigers have enough depth to get them through for the remainder of the year but have decisions to make around veterans Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence.

Seasoned campaigners Elijah Taylor and Chris McQueen are also without contracts. Matt Eisenhuth is another who the club is yet to tie down.

Finals chances: It's not a pretty sight to read the Tigers' remaining fixture list – Parramatta twice plus South Sydney, the Roosters, Storm, Panthers and Knights.

At best you can see them upsetting a couple, placing them around the bottom of the top eight. Their worst-case scenario is another missed opportunity to reach the finals. 

South Sydney Rabbitohs

  • Record: 5-5 (8th)
  • Attack: 206 points (8th)
  • Defence: 174 (7th)

On the upside: Latrell Mitchell's development at fullback has improved as the season has gone on to give Bunnies fans some hope he can become an elite No.1 during his time at the club.

The pack had taken a hit in the off-season with several departures but is ranked eighth between Melbourne and Canberra for go-forward with an average of 1685.8 metres per game.

Classic Cook gets South Sydney back in the game

On the downside: The Bunnies are shooting themselves in the foot with an average of 10 handling errors a game – an area Wayne Bennett is trying to fix as the season progresses. Damien Cook has struggled to get into the flow of many games behind a forward pack that has been hit-and-miss in the first half of the season.

Cook was tipped to be one of the biggest beneficiaries when the new six-again rule was introduced but is lacking the creativity we're used to seeing from the NSW hooker.

Rabbitohs teammates spruik 'old head' Jack Johns

Best player: Tom Burgess. After losing brothers Sam (retirement) and George (Super League) last season, Burgess has had to go to another level in 2020 and has responded in style with career-best figures that include an average of 143 metres and 29 tackles per game.

Burgess and Tevita Tatola are leading the way up front but need more as a collective to allow their backline some space.

Roster outlook: The Bunnies have a host of fringe players off-contract for next season but are otherwise fairly settled with their top 17. Alex Johnston all but confirmed he's on the lookout for a new club earlier in the year after being told to look elsewhere.

Souths have signed Panthers rookie Jed Cartwright for three years from 2021.

Finals chances: Many expected the Rabbitohs to finish in the top eight with ease but that task is proving far more difficult than first thought. The next month is crucial to their campaign with clashes against the Raiders, Dragons, Broncos and Cowboys.

A top-four finish appears unlikely but anything less than a spot in the finals will be seen as a failed season for the proud club.

Cronulla Sharks

  • Record: 5-5 (9th)
  • Attack: 256 points (2nd)
  • Defence: 224 points (11th)

On the upside: Cronulla's season looked in tatters after dropping their first four games of the season but they've turned the sluggish start into an even 5-5 record with five wins in the last six games.

A 32-point loss to the Panthers a fortnight ago knocked them back a peg but they've since bounced back with a demolition job against the Warriors.

On the downside: There's an unpredictability about the Sharks this season; the difference between their best and worst is so large they could be two completely different teams.

Highly paid players Andrew Fifita and Matt Moylan continue to be hampered by injuries in a setback for a club that has lost a bit of experience from previous seasons.

Ramien finishes a right edge shift

The suspension of Bronson Xerri and Josh Morris's departure have added another dose of drama in the Shire and left them scrambling for mid-season recruits in the outside backs.

Best player: Shaun Johnson. We've been used to seeing the flair and erratic brilliance of Johnson in previous seasons but this year's version is much calmer and controlling in his role at five-eighth.

Johnson is ranked equal third behind Harry Grant and Clint Gutherson on the Dally M leaderboard, highlighting his individual form to start the season that includes a competition-high 15 try assists.

Johnson orchestrates length of the field try for Katoa

Roster outlook: The Sharks appear settled for further mid-season signings after luring Bryson Goodwin and Nene Macdonald to the club in recent weeks. The club is confident they'll keep emerging forward Toby Rudolf after the Warriors thought they'd signed him to a three-year deal.

Outside backs Sione Katoa and Will Kennedy remain off contract for next season, while Billy Magoulias appears to be on the outer after limited opportunities under John Morris this year. 

Finals chances: They're certainly not out of finals contention but the Sharks need to find some consistency to get there. They'll need to win at least six of their next 10 games to ensure they finish in the top eight.

Along the way they'll clash with top-eight opponents the Eels, Roosters, Raiders, Panthers and Knights. It seems unlikely but in their current form and with the experience they have their future is in their own hands.

Manly Sea Eagles

  • Record: 5-5 (10th)
  • Attack: 155 points (12th)
  • Defence: 181 points (9th)

On the upside: Wins over the Roosters, Eels and Raiders show the Sea Eagles can more than match it with the competition's heavyweights. Add in a couple of controversial narrow losses to the Eels (forward pass call) and Knights (no penalty awarded) and they'vre unlucky to not be sitting higher on the ladder.

On the downside: Tom Trbojevic's hamstring issues have continued this season in a huge disappointment for the star fullback and club. Trbojevic's work around the middle of the ruck usually has everyone, including his own pack, on their toes and playing off the back of his momentum.

The Sea Eagles are averaging 3.1 line breaks per game, down 1.1 on last year's averages.

Cherry-Evans squeezes through close to the ruck

Best player: Addin Fonua-Blake. Recent controversy aside, there's no questioning Fonua-Blake's rise as one of the premier forwards in the NRL.

After playing second fiddle to Marty Taupau for four seasons, Fonua-Blake has gone to another level in 2020, adding an extra 33 metres on average per game (196.2) compared to last year. His post-contact metres have also increased under the new six-again rules.

Manly big men combine

Roster outlook: Manly's big names are all under contract for next season with only the likes of Danny Levi, Brendan Elliot and Cade Cust chasing extensions. 

Joel Thompson's departure to the English Super League in 2021 could lead the club to eye off an edge back-rower in the coming months.

Finals chances: A friendly run home could help the Sea Eagles sneak into the bottom half of the eight by season's end, particularly with the return of Trbojevic in a month and Dylan Walker in the coming weeks.

Their final three games to finish the season are against the Warriors, Titans and Bulldogs, all of whom are fighting to avoid a last-place finish. A top-four berth requires a further eight wins from now.

St George Illawarra Dragons

  • Record: 4-6 (11th)
  • Attack: 184 points (11th)
  • Defence: 194 points (10th)

On the upside: The Dragons have turned around an opening to a season that saw coach Paul McGregor and several big-name players under the spotlight for underwhelming performances.

The addition of Adam Clune and positional switches that involved Cameron McInnes and Ben Hunt have provided the Red V with a much-needed fix.

On the downside: The team's poor start to the year is likely to come back to bite them. They run into some tough opposition over the second half of the season with clashes against the Storm, Eels, Roosters and Knights.

Best player: Cameron McInnes. Put him at hooker, play him at lock, play him anywhere.

McInnes continues to be one of the Dragons' best on a weekly basis regardless of where McGregor may use him in the long run.

McInnes's form has made the decision to move and persist with Ben Hunt at hooker much easier for McGregor – the Dragons captain producing similar numbers in the lock role and providing an extra point of difference in attack.

Hunt and McInnes combine close to the line

Roster outlook: The Dragons have enough depth to get them through to the end of the year but will need to keep searching for a Tyson Frizell replacement leading into 2021. Local products Jacob Host, Euan Aitken and Tristan Sailor are also without deals.

The future of Jason Saab at the Red V is also one to watch with the club rejecting release requests from the teenager on two occasions.

Finals chances: A repeat of their 4-6 record in the second half of the year won't get the Dragons to the finals but if they can spring a few upsets, a top-eight finish isn't out of reach. Their best-case scenario looms as high as sixth, but they could also drop as low as 16th if the season finishes the way it started.

Hannay desires Cowboys coaching role

North Queensland Cowboys

  • Record: 3-7 (12th)
  • Attack: 205 points
  • Defence: 275 points

On the upside: The emergence of young guns Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Reuben Cotter have provided a couple of positives in an otherwise dismal first half of the year for the Cowboys.

There's no doubt they're in the middle a rebuild at the club – one that will only intensify now Paul Green's departure has been confirmed. Green's exit may leave the side playing with a bit more freedom and a fresher outlook for the remaining 10 games.

On the downside: Injuries to Michael Morgan, Valentine Holmes and Scott Drinkwater have disrupted any chance the team had of its playmaking spine firing.

Veteran rake Jake Granville has also found himself on the outer after five years of service. The edge defence on both sides has been caught out in big ways. Esan Marsters, in particular, has struggled in his first season at the club.

Best player: Jason Taumalolo. It will come as no surprise but the ever-consistent Taumalolo has remained the rock of the side's forward pack.

Taumalolo and Molo combine

Taumalolo's averaging career-best numbers in running (226) and post-contact metres (85.5) under the new six-again rules in 2020.

Roster outlook: Green's departure has opened a can of worms with at least 10 remaining players off-contract at season's end including Jake Clifford and Francis Molo. Cowboys prop John Asiata is another who has been linked with rival clubs in recent months, while Gavin Cooper is expected to retire.

Jordan McLean and Ben Hampton are expected to take up their player options. The Cowboys have the forward pack but need a couple of strike outside backs.

Another dominant playmaker to partner Morgan also wouldn't hinder the new era they're set to embark on.

Do clubs need to take a more long-term view with coaches?

Finals chances: Mathematically, the Cowboys aren't out of the finals hunt and with Green now gone will that spark a mid-year resurgence?

It appears highly unlikely to happen but with Morgan due back over the next month, the team would need to win at least seven of their remaining 10 games and hope results go their way for any chance of a finals miracle.

New Zealand Warriors

  • Record: 3-7 (13th)
  • Attack: 127 points (15th)
  • Defence: 260 points (13th)

On the upside: The emergence of Jamayne Taunoa-Brown and Eliesa Katoa has been a shining light in an otherwise tough opening half of the year for the Warriors. Todd Payten's position as an interim coach has also given him the chance of displaying his credentials for the long-term gig.

Could the Warriors play all games in New Zealand next season?

On the downside: Points have been hard to come by with an average of 12.7 scored per game not near good enough to challenge most teams across 80 minutes. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's struggles to make an impact has been a bi-product of how much the team has struggled.

Without a purpose of challenging for the finals, motivation levels could drop very quickly for the team that everyone has come to admire after the sacrifices they've made to get the game back up and running.

Best player: Tohu Harris. The back-rower is standing tall for an engine room desperate for some leadership. Harris's individual numbers are through the roof compared to previous seasons at the club and his five-year stint with the Storm.

The 28-year-old is producing numbers that include 176 metres and 44 tackles on average per game.

Papali'i secures emotional win for Warriors

Roster outlook: Put simply, the Warriors need loan players and they need them now. The expected departures of international wingers Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu'a for personal reasons after round 11 leave a hole in the backline, while Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa will join the pair on a plane bound for home.

Long term, Warriors owner Mark Robinson has confirmed Blake Green and Gerard Beale won't be re-signed by the club for next season, while veteran Adam Blair has a player option in his favour. The likes of Peta Hiku and Patrick Herbert continue to play for new deals.

Finals chances: As good as a fairytale would be for everyone's second favourite team, a finish better than the bottom six would surprise even diehard fans at this point of the season.

The club will do well to find four players to help ease their squad's depth woes to finish the year, let alone challenge for a spot in the finals. If they can get through the next 10 weeks it will be a success story in itself.

Hiku desires to stay at the Warriors

Brisbane Broncos

  • Record: 3-7 (14th)
  • Attack: 134 points (13th)
  • Defence: 291 points (16th)

On the upside: It's slim pickings to find positives for a club that has only missed the finals once in 33 years of history but the consolation is the core youth going through the current turmoil are going to be better for finding ways to drag themselves out of the hole.

With a host of players due back for the second half of the season, coach Anthony Seibold will be hoping their returns bring some instant change in results, particularly if his own job is on the line.

On the downside: Defensively the team is showing no resilience or willingness to play for each other or their coach – a worrying sign leading into the second half of the year.

Their attack is showing no signs of improvement either. Senior players Anthony Milford and Darius Boyd look less than inspiring or motivating on the paddock to help the young players get through the difficult period. Someone has to stand up but there are immediate signs it's going to happen soon.

Best player: Payne Haas. In a dire year for the club, the relentless efforts up front of the young Blue have been eye-catching. Producing numbers that a few years ago would have been simply unbelievable for a prop, Haas has averaged 71.5 minutes, 43 tackles, 3.6 busts and 170 metres.

Broncos unaware of reported Seibold ultimatum

He has been a steady influence in the middle of the field, playing 80 minutes as often as not and still trying his guts out to the final siren. 

Roster outlook: The Broncos' roster debate is in full swing and there's a number of players with questions lingering about their future.

Seibold's decision to let go veteran Andrew McCullough in May came back to bite him with the club recruiting Issac Luke and Ben Teo as experience fillers. David Fifita is weighing up a lucrative deal at the Titans, which could prove critical in the long run for the Broncos roster.

Anthony Milford and Jack Bird have activated player options for next season while Corey Oates and Jake Turpin have the chance to do the same.

Key decisions will have to be made around Seibold's roster but until there's some clarity around the coach's own future it may be a hard sell if the club wanted to explore the market once their retention has been worked out.

Did Seibold pull the right rein with fullback switch?

Finals chances: Mathematically, the revamped 20-round competition plays into the Broncos' hands if they're able to wipe their dismal first half of the season clean and string together some results.

To scrape into the eight they'd need to win at least eight of their last 10 games.

Not entirely impossible but if we're going off current trends the once-juggernauts of the Telstra Premiership will be flat out trying to avoid the wooden spoon, let alone preparing for a finals series.

Round 11 - Moses returns, Bateman named

Gold Coast Titans

  • Record: 3-7 (15th)
  • Attack: 128 points (14th)
  • Defence: 287 points (15th)

On the upside: Justin Holbrook's influence on the Titans has been shown in glimpses with the coach not shy of dropping a senior player or two in a bid to create accountability at the club. Jamal Fogarty, Erin Clark and Tanah Boyd are among the names who will benefit from the experiences long-term.

On the downside: The constant moving around of players does little for continuity and the Titans' losses this year have been heavy, coming at an average of 26 points. Put simply, when they lose, they lose heavy – an area that can at least be identified as a short-term fix for the remainder of the season.

Best player: Moeaki Fotuaika won the club's player of the year award last season and is on track to secure the award for a second time after improving on his numbers from last year. Fotuaika's minutes have increased by 10 per game this season and with that, his basic statistical figures are up there with the best forwards in the competition.

Which clubs would benefit most from the return of SBW?

Roster outlook: The Titans have been openly active in the player market, securing Knights prop Herman Ese'ese for next season. They are still waiting on their main trump card, David Fifita, who is weighing up a big-money offer to leave the Broncos.

The addition of former Wests Tigers outside back Corey Thompson completes their signings prior to August 3. The squad has a host of players off contract at season's end, including Keegan Hipgrave, Ryan James, Nathan Peats, Tyrone Roberts, Anthony Don and Dale Copley.

Finals chances: The top eight is technically not out of reach yet but put a line through the Titans for the finals at the going rate. The club still has plenty to play for after last year's wooden spoon result.

After winning just four matches in 24 games last season, they're on track to improve on that record but a bottom-four finish still appears likely.

Try celebrations galore

Canterbury Bulldogs

  • Record: 1-9 (16th)
  • Attack: 116 points (16th)
  • Defence: 242 points (12th)

On the upside: Dean Pay's future has been sorted after months of uncertainty, giving the players and fans at least some clarity around where they're headed.

The early arrival of English recruit Luke Thompson provides a glimmer of hope the Bulldogs are heading in the right direction. The club's younger group of players have had another 10 games under their belt to get used to the rigours of the NRL, while the team has fought in nearly every game regardless of the result.

Done deal: Barrett to coach Bulldogs from 2021

On the downside: The side's attack has gone backwards under the rule changes and increased speed of the game. Canterbury's struggles in attack have been around since Des Hasler coached the team but their 116 points after 10 rounds this year is worse than their efforts after 10 rounds last year and on track to be one of the worst in NRL history

Best player: Will Hopoate. If the consistent Bulldogs utility was off-contract today, several clubs would be interested in his services. An ankle injury halted Hopoate's season in round seven and along with Adam Elliott, the pair were doing their best to inspire the Belmore outfit. 

Roster outlook: Canterbury have immediate decisions to make on the futures of Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera before August 3, with both due back from suspensions following successful appeals for their roles in off-field incidents in February.

Every try from round 10

The retention of Adam Elliott is a vital one for the club, while the focus on luring top-class players will intensify once a new coach has been confirmed.

The positive is the club's salary cap woes endured over the past three years is nearing an end. With 10 players off-contract, the Bulldogs have room to move several players on and free up some much-needed cash. 

Finals chances: Put a line through them for the finals but there is still plenty to play for at Belmore. No team likes to finish with the wooden spoon but at this rate it's headed that way.

Canterbury are four points behind three other struggling clubs in the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans. It's a challenge that should provide them with all the motivation, particularly for players playing for a new deal.