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NRL: Panthers look up for the fight

Five rounds into the 2024 NRL season and Penrith Panthers remain the hot fancies to go on and claim another premiership.

They may have suffered a few setbacks already this campaign, but have a habit of peaking at the right time, and look to be up to the challenge once again.

Like the Panthers, Brisbane Broncos have had a tough start to the season for one reason or another, but there is no reason to panic and they should also come good.

The Wests Tigers and Dolphins have been the surprise packages so far, while South Sydney Rabbitohs look to be in crisis.

Let’s take a look at the latest outright markets.

Penrith Panthers

The Panthers are priced at 3.40 to go on and win the 2024 grand final and it would take a brave man to back against them.

They may have suffered a couple of defeats against Melbourne Storm and Manly Sea Eagles, but have shown enough to suggest they will take some stopping.

Star halfback Nathan Cleary was missing against the Sea Eagles at the weekend, while they have also been missing the likes of James Fisher-Harris.

Despite losing Stephen Crichton at the end of last season, the players that have stepped in have already proven they are up to the job.

The Panthers have not lost their appetite for success and will be gunning for a fourth straight premiership.

Brisbane Broncos

The Broncos have lost three of the opening five games, but they can still be backed at 5.50 to win the grand final.

Kevin Walters side have been hit by some big injury blows with Payne Haas and Reece Walsh out of the side, while Adam Reynolds is another to have issues.

When all three are back fit and firing, the Broncos will have too much quality in their ranks and should be there at the end of the campaign.

Melbourne Storm

The Storm are looking strong after winning three of their opening four games and are 6.50 to win the grand final.

Much will depend on keeping the spine of their side fit and Cameron Munster has already had groin issues.

But Ryan Papenhuyzen is back in at fullback, while the likes of Harry Grant, Jahrome Hughes and Xavier Coates are in good touch.

The Storm have the potential to win the comp and give Craig Bellamy the perfect send-off.

Dolphins

The Dolphins have started like a house on fire with three wins from the opening four games to sit top of the ladder.

However it is still early days and like last season, their strength in depth could be an issue as the season progresses.

A place in the top eight and finals football would still be a big achievement for Wayne Bennett’s side and they are priced at 2.60 to make it.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

The bunnies appear to be in turmoil after losing four of their opening five games to sit bottom of the ladder.

Coach Jason Demetriou is under pressure and there are rumours of unrest behind the scenes.

They can be backed at 17.00 to suffer most losses in the NRL this season, but will surely turn things around at some point.

Gold Coast Titans have also had a shocking start to the season and are priced at 1.72 to suffer most losses.

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