Here's how the NRL season might have gone in 2020

Payne Haas of the Broncos takes on the defence during the round 2 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on March 20, 2020 in Brisbane before the season was suspended due to COVID-19. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Payne Haas of the Broncos takes on the defence during the round 2 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on March 20, 2020 in Brisbane before the season was suspended due to COVID-19. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Apart from the excitement it generates, the passion that flows because of it and the opportunities it provides so many people, the best thing about our great game is it's ability to handle adversity.

No game is more resilient than rugby league and even though it, along with our lives as a whole, are being severely challenged right now, I have absolutely no doubts footy will come out the other side and be just as great again.

It's about supporting each other through it. It will bounce back, even though at this stage, we don't know what shape it will come back in.

But I think it's important to have all 16 teams back in the NRL if that is possible. For mine, that's what everyone should be working hard towards, to have everyone back. It would be a tragedy for the fans if that wasn't the case. But these are extremely difficult times for everyone, there are massive challenges ahead and we have to be realistic.

No game is more resilient than rugby league and even though it, along with our lives as a whole, are being severely challenged right now, I have absolutely no doubts footy will come out the other side and be just as great again.

Laurie Daley

There has to be financial cuts right across the board, staff and officials have already been stood down and that is going impact a lot of people and families and cause a lot of pain. But the game will pull through because it means too much to too many people and hopefully we get it back sooner rather than later.

As for what we saw in the opening two rounds, if I was forced to make a call on who would win the comp, win the wooden spoon and the Dally M on the strength of just 160 minutes of footy, here is what I've come up with.

PREMIERS: Broncos

They have been the standouts for mine. There were question marks over their coach Anthony Seibold coming into this year, there were off-field distractions, there was talk that if he doesn't get them to the finals, the Old Boys would go after him about not being the right man.

But they played some great footy over the opening two rounds and they did it on the back of Payne Haas, David Fifita, Thomas Flegler and Patrick Carrigan, rising young forwards who have been around only a couple of years.

RUNNER-UP: Raiders

They were just ultra professional. What I've liked about them most is they haven't been anywhere near their best but they have been able to get the job done without too much fuss and beat the sort of teams they are expected to beat. A few years back, they couldn't do that.

There are already signs they have learned to cope with expectation and there is so much scope for improvement when and if they get back on the paddock this season.

SMOKEY: Panthers

They are the team that has probably surprised me the most. They have shown a lot of grit to fight back from deficits in both their wins and they would have taken a great deal of confidence out of that.

I think their new hooker Api Koroisau has made a massive difference to this side.

He has just given them such a big attacking threat out of dummy half that they didn't have last year.

And all the evidence points to Nathan Cleary taking his game to another level now that he is the main man in the absence of James Maloney.

WOODEN SPOON:

It's hard to be too critical of the poor old Warriors given what they had to deal with over the first couple of rounds but from what I've seen, they looked like they were going to be in for a long season along with the Titans.

To surrender like the Titans did last weekend against the Parramatta Eels shows how much work new coach Justin Holbrook has ahead of him.

DALLY M MEDAL:

Winner: Jason Taumalolo. He is a superstar and his form to start the season for the Cowboys was unbelievable. He is one of the most dynamic players I've ever seen and I reckon you can elevate him into the conversation around the best forwards the game has seen. If he was playing State of Origin and for Australia, I have no doubts we'd be talking about him as the best player in the game.

Runners-up: Payne Haas and Tom Trbojevic. Haas is out of the Taumololo mould. He has an unbelievable motor that's allowed him to play really big minutes and get through an enormous workload in both attack and defence. He really led the Broncos from the front. An unbelievable talent.

What a performance from Trbojevic last weekend against the Roosters. He was coming up against James Tedesco, regarded as the best fullback and one of the best players in the game and Tommy Turbo was sensational. I honestly think Tommy is just as good, he just hasn't had a run at it yet because of injury setbacks. If he gets a run at it, look out.

This story How the NRL season might have gone first appeared on The Canberra Times.