After the world’s worst off season of sex tapes, sexual abuse, alcohol binges, drink driving, and all the bullshit in between – I can say on behalf of the rugby league fans and players that everyone’s just really looking forward to kick off in round one.
Here’s hoping the football we see on the field makes up for what has occurred off it. Bring on 2019.
THURSDAY: Melbourne Storm V Brisbane Broncos – AAMI Park, 21.50NZT
Melbourne get the luxury of hosting the first game of the season – but be aware of a Broncos team that looks ready to fire.
Without taking trial form in to account, both sides are looking good. The Broncos somehow look bigger than last season – and the Storm will no doubt be slick.
Brisbane look like a serious threat in 2019, and a great way to start off the year is the ultimate test against the Grand Finalists.
TIP: Broncos 1-12
FRIDAY: Newcastle Knights V Cronulla Sharks – McDonald Jones Stadium, 20.00NZT
What seems to be a brand new back five for the Knights will add plenty of excitement for the Novocastrians who will look to break the top eight for the first time in a long time.
The Sharks will trot out with the old Warriors halves combo of Johnson and Townsend – where plenty of eyes will stay locked for the first six weeks of the season.
Hard to pick a winner here. The Knights have a lot to prove, but the Sharks are always tough no matter the occasion.
TIP: Sharks 1-12
Sydney Roosters V South Sydney Rabbitohs – Sydney Cricket Ground, 22.00NZT
There’s already a lot of scrutiny about the quality of the ground after it was torn up in a Super Rugby match last week, but don’t let that distract you from this clash.
These sides have been battling since the dawn of time, and clashed in the Grand Final qualifier last year where the Roosters strangled the Rabbitohs.
Expect fireworks. This is always a great match. The Rabbitohs will want to get first blood on the board in 2019.
TIP: Roosters 1-12
SATURDAY: New Zealand Warriors V Canterbury Bulldogs – Mount Smart Stadium, 17.00NZT
No Johnson, no Mannering – but no worries for the Warriors. They’ve just gone about their business over the off season which will excite the fans.
The Bulldogs have a few new faces who will want to get this club back to their glory days, and it starts with a tough trip across the Tasman.
Rookie Adam Keighran gets the nod alongside Blake Green for the Warriors, but will have his work cut out for him – the Bulldogs will have their sights set on him with plenty of pressure early on.
TIP: Warriors 1-12
Wests Tigers V Manly Warringah Sea Eagles – Leichhardt Oval, 19.30NZT
The Sea Eagles have a pick n mix backline that shows a lot of unpredictability, but they will do what they can to get a win.
Wests are missing their captain through injury, but still have plenty of necessary experience in the right positions across the field.
If Manly can match the Tigers for the first 40 minutes, it could make things very interesting. Tigers do look the better of the two.
TIP: Tigers 13+
North Queensland Cowboys V Saint George Illawarra Dragons – 1300SMILES Stadium, 21.30NZT
After seeing the team sheets, there’s plenty to be excited about for this match up.
The Cowboys backline screams sensational, and that’s with winger Kyle Feldt out injured.
We all know how devastating their forward pack can be, but the lack of consistency last year hindered the team substantially.
The Dragons forward back looks very well oiled, and have a new halves pairing which look ready to go.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
SUNDAY: Penrith Panthers V Parramatta Eels – Panthers Stadium, 18.05NZT
The Panthers will want to build on their potential of last year against the current wooden spooners.
Don’t write off Parramatta before this season starts, though – rookie Dylan Brown in the 6 jersey looks the goods, and there’s plenty of guys who are smarter and fitter than 2018.
Not much has changed other than the coaching ranks at Penrith, so there’s a lot of expectations on them to succeed. Starting the year at home, they will be doing everything they can to reward the fans.
TIP: Panthers 1-12
Gold Coast Titans V Canberra Raiders – Cbus Super Stadium, 20.10NZT
The Titans have been working very hard in the off season to make sure they’re ready. Still a question of depth, but there’s some very talented players in their 17 for Sunday.
The Raiders have some new faces too, and have recruited more from England to help give themselves an edge over their opponents in 2019.
I think the Titans will really give the Raiders a run for their money here. Canberra will have hopefully grown out of their final 20 minute fades which saw them fall short on many occasions last season.
TIP: Titans 1-12
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