Every week, sports betting providers such as Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and William Hill race to get the upcoming week’s NRL markets out as early as possible. Sportsbet quite often will go up weeks in advance which can be a gutsy move. These early lines that almost all bookmakers have out on a Monday or Tuesday before a rounds play, almost never are the same as where they end up on game day.
Here, we reveal the five most common factors that affect the movement of these markets between opening post and kick off.
The most common market mover is without doubt late line-up changes. This can come in many forms, of which, injuries are easily the biggest factor. However, things like suspensions (the NRL judiciary is held on a Wednesday night) and player personal issues (e.g. A pregnant wife going into labour on game day) all tend to catch punters out at one time or another throughout a 26 round NRL season.
However, let’s focus on injuries for now. From a punting perspective, serious long term injuries aren’t of much interest. We all know an ACL reco means a player’s season is over. The most influential injuries aren’t those that are in plain sight, but rather those niggling injuries to talented players. The kind that makes their availability for that weekend subject to a Friday morning fitness test.
Stay attentive to who’s gotten nicked up in the previous game and might be a doubt for the next encounter. This is particularly important during origin time. Many stars are banged up after the big rivalry and can be rested at any time. Brisbane is a club that has become renownrd for resting players during the origin season even if they’re available to play.
Picking up a key omission from the line-up in advance could see you benefit with the pricing or line of your bet. Underdogs usually become good value in these spots.
Another key point to remember is that star players with minor injuries are more likely to be rested for non-important games. For example, if Jonathon Thurston picks up a cork a week before a mid-season fixture against the Knights, you can be pretty confident the club won’t risk their star man. However, if JT picked up an equivalent injury a week before a grand-final, he’s be odds on to push through and play the following week.
2. Off-field drama
A factor that gives journo’s a lot of excitement and the regular fan more storylines to consume is off-field drama. In the NRL it always been a ‘when’ not ‘if’ scenario.
The NRL seems to have players throughout a season that get caught with drugs, blow over the limit, or even engage in serious crime such as domestic violence, putting their careers in jeopardy. This off-field drama calls into question their availability for the next game. This could have a significant effect on the betting line going into the coming match.
The impact doesn’t stop there. When these situations occur it causes their teammates and coaches to face a barrage of media coverage on what impact this will have on the team and their career moving forward. In the NRL, if a team isn’t completely focused heading into a match, they will usually get found out. It’s an unnecessary distraction that could take away from time spent game planning on the opposition.
Distractions don’t always have to be with the law. An example can be seen with Ben Barba who’s proven time and time again that he plays well when his personal life is in order. Barba’s worst games of his career have coincided with issues at home, disagreements with teammates and quarrels with the club.
With this in mind, hearing breaking news about a club or player who has messed up should be considered a worthwhile fade (bet against) before the markets have time to register.
3. Whiteboard material
Also known as Bulletin board material, Whiteboard material can give a team that extra bit of motivation to win a game they really shouldn’t.
What is Whiteboard material you ask? Whiteboard material is any statement or press release that will add extra motivation to a team’s performance.
E.g. Team A hears that a player from Team B has said that “Team A are pretty soft, our forwards should make light work of them”. Team A is made aware of this statement and the coach will write this quote on the whiteboard in the change room just to amp his team up for the game. There’s a similar effect when the media dismisses a team for whatever reason.
Players these days will use any and all motivation they can get to keep them at peak performance throughout a grueling 26 round NRL season.
4. Smart money
Smart money is basically professional money. Many Sports Books have select punters who are considered ‘sharp’, in other words; these guys make their living through betting.
Smart money is hard to follow in the NRL. There aren’t many reliable sites that offer consistent tracking of where smart money has been put on NRL games. One of the simpler ways to find an indication of whether smart money has been
placed is by comparing the current line with an early line. If within a couple of days of a market being posted, the line has dramatically changed, this may be an indication that smart money has picked off the early number.
Try and find sites that either tell you what the week’s sharp plays are, or, alternatively try and find the plays that have approximately 40% or less of the action, but the line is moving in their favour. An example could be if Team A is a -4.5 favourite and they only have 36% of the betting action, but the line moves to -5 or higher. This is an indicator of a sharp play. Not always the case, but an indication nonetheless.
5. Tactical announcements
A very straightforward factor that could change the way a team might perform in a game. A coach or representative of a team could divulge a change in tactics from his or her team. This may change the expectation of a team’s performance based on the matchup they have that week.
If the sole premise of your bet is that the Broncos have been succeeding with their expansive backline play, and then the coach comes out and states he’s looking to play more direct and rely less on his backline, it may work against the team.
Further to this, many games can be decided by the matchups in style. A team who doesn’t have the forward pack to stop the rampaging forwards of Canberra could be stylistically disadvantaged. Keep an eye on indicators of how a team will play.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of the NRL is a surefire way to catch an advantage in betting markets. Bookies will always react relatively quickly to breaking news and adjust their prices accordingly. However, on the occasions that the odds makers don’t react fast enough, you’ll want to take advantage. If you focus on the five factors covered above, you should have your fair share of opportunities to beat the bookies to the punch!
Written by Nik Hatzi