1. Wests Tigers
Read this twice: the Wests Tigers started the year off in last place in these power rankings, and are now in first. If you didn’t realise, the NRL is well and truly back.
2. St George Illawarra Dragons
With a road trip to the Gold Coast Titans ahead of them, the St. George Illawarra Dragons are a big chance to make the leap into first this weekend; on the other hand, Wests hosts the resurgent Brisbane Broncos in a far more challenging fixture.
However, given what they’ve been through the past few seasons, I doubt Saints fans care about early season achievements any more.
3. Penrith Panthers
The Penrith Panthers have finally made their way into the top-three of the power rankings, but they’ve certainly done it the hard way, manufacturing two come-from-behind wins in successive weeks.
If they want to stay here, they need to take care of business this week against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
4. Brisbane Broncos
“You will not divide us” were the words from Brisbane’s head coach Wayne Bennett, as his side surprised in scratching out a win over last week’s number 1 team, the North Queensland Cowboys.
They get another opportunity to dethrone the king this week, travelling to Sydney’s southwest to take on the Tigers.
5. North Queensland Cowboys
Do I think North Queensland is a better team than the Broncos? Yes I do, but it’d hardly be fair to have the Cowboys higher given they were just beaten by their upstate rivals.
Results depending, a win this week in Victoria would give Paul Green’s men a legitimate claim for their number 1 spot back; on the other hand, if Wests could do it, how hard can it be?
6. Newcastle Knights
As impressive as their Week one win over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles was, leaving it late to beat the Canberra Raiders was not.
A win over the Sydney Roosters this week in prime time on Sunday night in what is easily the biggest game of the year thus far will go a long way to proving their legitimacy.
7. New Zealand Warriors
Warriors fans may (rightly) have their noses out of joint about not being higher, given they currently sit below teams who have lost a game, but this is the Warriors we’re talking about.
For now, they’ll have to be content with a jump up from last week’s ranking of 12.
8. Melbourne Storm
A loss to the Tigers does not look nearly as bad now as it would have at the start of the year, but it’s hard to have the Melbourne Storm any higher.
A win over 5th-ranked North Queensland this weekend should fix that.
9. Sydney Roosters
The Sydney Roosters finally clicked this week, but still managed to slide down one spot to 9th – probably because the Bulldogs were the team they clicked against.
Let’s see if a win over the Newcastle Knights this week is enough to resurrect my faith in this team.
10. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
A very impressive win over the Parramatta Eels sees the Sea Eagles trending in the right direction.
While a win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs won’t move the chains too much in their favour, it’s certainly a must win; they need to bide their time and wait for a big scalp to really shake the rankings up.
11. Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Pretty easily the most impressive 0-2 start in the NRL, but it’s still just that: an 0-2 start.
The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have gone down to teams 2 and 5 in the first two weeks of the competition, as they look to be more cattle than cowboy this year. They get Parramatta at home this week, though.
12. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have also had a tough start to the season, but given their scheduling, I’m not penalising them too heavily.
It doesn’t get any easier this week, though, as they play Penrith, who sit in 3rd in the rankings.
13. Gold Coast Titans
The only team to hold steady this week, the Gold Coast Titans looked very poor without Ashley Taylor making things happen in offense, but they’ve certainly looked better than some teams.
I hate to mention it, but they’re playing the Dragons this week, the highest-ranked team they’ve played so far this year.
14. South Sydney Rabbitohs
One of two teams to climb at the expense of a woeful Parramatta side, this one-spot jump also fairly reflects South Sydney’s much-improved efforts against the Panthers this week.
If they keep heading in the direction of improvement, we could have a respectable team on our hands by the end of the season. Finals-bound though is probably still a bit far off.
15. Canberra Raiders
Two close losses to two teams who were not favoured preseason will do this to you; it looks like a year with Josh Hodgson will be a lost year for Canberra.
They have another interesting game this week against the Warriors, who are 2-0, but are primed to return to usual programming any time from this week onwards. Can the Raiders take advantage of this well-travelled team?
16. Parramatta Eels
Put it this way: I fancied the Sea Eagles as the third-worst team in the League last week, and they put 54 points on the hapless Eels.
It’s a long way back from dead last at this stage of the season, but hey, Wests have proved it entirely possible. A good place to start would be beating the Sharks this weekend.
How do your Power Rankings stack up after two weeks of action? Let us know in the comments below.