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NRL: Who can stop the Panthers in 2023?

Penrith Panthers have dominated the NRL over the past couple of seasons when winning back-to-back Grand Finals and they are the hot fancies for the three-peat in 2023.

The Panthers are priced at 11/4 to win the Grand Final and once again they look to have the players and know-how to go all the way. Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Dylan Edwards, Isaah Yeo, the list goes on.

While coach Ivan Cleary remains on board to steer the ship. Cleary may have lost Cameron Ciraldo, who has moved on to coach the Canterbury Bulldogs but everything remains in place for the Panthers to have another big season.

Winning three Grand Finals on the spin would be something special, but many believe the run could come to an end in 2023. The Sydney Roosters are seen as the team to stop them in the season ahead, but there are other contenders.

With the 2023 NRL season fast approaching, let’s take a look at the teams that could fancy their chances dethroning the Panthers.

Sydney Roosters (5/1)

The Roosters won the Premiership in both 2018 and 2019 and many believe 2023 could be their year to return to the top. Already blessed with the likes of James Tedesco, Joseph Manu and Joseph Sua’ali’i the Bondi outfit have also snapped star hooker Brandon Smith from the Melbourne Storm.

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Trent Robinson is an outstanding coach and has lead the Roosters to glory already so he knows how to get the job done. The Triclours will now be keeping their fingers crossed for a clean bill of health on the injury front. If they can keep everyone fit and on the field, the Roosters could be the team to stop the Panthers.

Melbourne Storm (15/2)

The Melbourne Storm can never be written off heading into a new season. Especially when coach Craig Bellamy remains at the helm and arguably the NRL’s best player, Cameron Munster, remains on the pitch.

They still have a roster packed with quality that will have them in the hunt throughout the season but there have been some big departures that could hurt them. Brandon Smith, Felise Kaufusi and the Bromwich brothers Kenny and Jesse could leave a gaping hole and it remains to be seen if the Storm can fill that void.

Smith missing from the forward pack in particular will be a big loss, although they still have Harry Grant. Keeping star full-back Ryan Papenhuyzen fit and on the field following his concussion issues and a serious knee injury will also be key.

North Queensland Cowboys (10/1)

The Cowboys were one of the surprise packages of 2022 and one of the top sides of the season when finishing third on the ladder at the end of the regular season. Now it just remains to be seen if they can go on and build on that season and take the next step up in 2023.

Again they have plenty of quality on the roster with the likes of Jeremiah Nanai, Reuben Cotter, Valentine Holmes and Chad Townsend among their ranks.

Keeping everyone fit will once again be crucial as was proven when losing Cotter to a hamstring injury last season. Townsville is always a daunting place for opposing teams to visit and they will need to make it a fortress.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (10/1)

The Rabbitohs proved there is life after Wayne Bennett and Adam Reynolds when making it all the way to the 2022 Grand Final before losing to the Panthers.

They will be out to go one better in 2023 and with the likes of Latrell Mitchell in the side anything can happen. Five-eighth Cody Walker is one of the best, while winger Alex Johnston is the NRL’s leading try-scorer.

Throw in Cameron Murray and there is a lot to like about the Bunnies once again. Young halfback Lachlan Ilias has already proven that he can replace Reynolds and they will need another big season from him.

Cronulla Sharks (12/1)

The Sharks moved their game to another level in 2022 when finishing second on the ladder under the leadership of first-year coach Craig Fitzgibbon who made a huge difference after arriving from the Roosters.

It will take some effort to progress again but they do have star players such as Nicho Hynes, Siosifa Talakai and the experienced Dale Finucane. The top six rather than the Premiership looks more likely but the Sharks should still be in the mix.

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