The Broncos and Sea Eagles have been handed the toughest draws in 2023 based on results and ladder data recorded from the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership.
Each club received an opposition difficulty score of 230 under a formula that measures teams up against their opponents from where all clubs finished on the ladder following the 2022 season, as well as factoring in five-day turnarounds.
The Broncos and Sea Eagles will take on 2022 top four opponents - Penrith, Parramatta, Cronulla and North Queensland - a total of seven times each out of a maximum eight games in 2023, the highest figure of all 17 clubs.
The Broncos will play 14 out of 24 regular season games against opponents who finished in the top eight for a competition high, while the Sea Eagles have 13 matches scheduled in against teams who reached the finals.
Majority of other clubs have between 11-12 games against top eight teams while those that reached the finals range from 10-12, including premiers Penrith.
The 2023 NRL Draw is here!
Newcomers the Dolphins recorded an opposition difficulty score of 218 with five clashes against top four sides included in a total of 11 games from the 2022 top eight.
On the 'easier' end of the scale are the Raiders, who have just eight of 24 games scheduled against top eight sides, giving them an index score of 192 - well below any other NRL team.
The Green Machine will already go into 2023 buoyed after a strong second half of the year pushed them into the finals and will feel further confident after receiving a draw which sees them face the Eels, Cowboys, Roosters, Rabbitohs and Storm just once.
The Raiders are also one of three teams - along with the Dolphins and Dragons - who will play top four sides from 2022 just five times in 2023.
To note, the formula doesn't take into account where matches are played and therefore removes any home ground advantage for a team. It also doesn't factor in which star recruits are arriving or departing at a club, or whether a team will have players available during the Origin period that may impact performance or results.
In 2022, the Titans and Dragons were deemed to have the 'easiest' of draws based on the 2021 ladder finishing, but both comfortably missed the finals, proving just how unpredictable the NRL can be.
Similarly, the Raiders and Roosters were deemed to have two of the toughest draws in 2022, but went on to reach the finals.
However, the Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Panthers and Sharks were all rated in the top-end of the 'easier' half of the draw in 2022 and reached the finals - the Cowboys and Sharks finishing in the top four - also proving there is some method to the madness.