THURSDAY Parramatta Eels V Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs – Bankwest Stadium – 22.05NZT
As the season kicks off at the best footy ground in Australia, the Eels want to prove that they have more than 2019.
Same goes for the Bulldogs, who go in a little understrength due to suspensions and injuries; as well as some off-field issues.
I can see Bankwest being completely sold out for this one, despite its Thursday kick off.
Parramatta have bought some key cogs in over the off season, which could be the strength they need to go one step further.
The Bulldogs have to play smart in the first half to keep up with the Eels.
TIP: Eels 13+
FRIDAY Canberra Raiders V Gold Coast Titans – GIO Stadium – 20.00NZT
The Raiders start their road to redemption against the 2019 wooden spooners.
The fire will be there, and last seasons runners up result will still hurt.
With English half George Williams at the helm, the Raiders will take a little while to gel.
The Titans have another season of nothing to lose. Their roster is weak and they will struggle again I believe, though they do have a better coach on deck which can help.
Raiders too strong at home.
TIP: Raiders 13+
North Queensland Cowboys V Brisbane Broncos – Queensland Country Bank Stadium – 22.05NZT
The Cowboys will be excited to play their first game of the season in a brand new stadium. It’s looks phenomenal, too. The fans will be out for sure.
And they play big brother Brisbane, which is always an exciting match-up.
Eyes will be on Valentine Holmes, but also Scott Drinkwater for the home side.
Brisbane have many questions to answer, and the puzzle of their side doesn’t get any easier. Jack Bird in the 1 jersey is an interesting selection.
Both sides will be looking for more consistency in 2020, and it could be a slow start for them. A close game here.
TIP: Cowboys 1-12
SATURDAY Newcastle Knights V New Zealand Warriors – McDonald Jones Stadium – 17.00NZT
The Knights have to succeed this season. There’s no other way to look at it. Their roster is a little slim in the forwards, but they have a lot of talented first grade players who can do the job.
The Warriors look very skinny in the front row, with Lachlan Burr playing prop due to the amount of injuries they have.
Newcastle have a lot of eyes on them this season, whereas the Warriors are being touted to win the wooden spoon, which is unheard of.
Can’t see the Knights losing this one. A couple of late tries will blow the score line open.
TIP: Knights 13+
South Sydney Rabbitohs V Cronulla Sharks – ANZ Stadium – 19.30NZT
I’m excited to see what the Rabbitohs backline can produce this year, but there are some questions to be asked up front as they are a little undersized, I believe.
The Sharks will have them up front in this battle, but the Rabbitohs should still do enough to win.
Cronulla are good enough to win this, but I think they won’t be able to overcome a strong Souths side.
TIP: Rabbitohs 1-12
Penrith Panthers V Sydney Roosters – Panthers Stadium – 21.30NZT
Penrith have two young guns to steer them around this year with Cleary the Luai, which fans will be excited about.
The big challenge is coming up against the reigning Premiers in the first game of the year, so they almost have no expectations to win.
With all eyes on the Roosters, they have to answer the call.
Crichton in the centres this year, and new kid Kyle Flannigan in the 7 jersey. There’s plenty of interest in this game.
Roosters will get it done, just.
TIP: Roosters 1-12
SUNDAY Manly Warringah Sea Eagles V Melbourne Storm – Lottoland – 18.05NZT
I’m tipping the Sea Eagles to go all the way this year. Their roster excites me.
The Storm first up is always hard for any team, but I feel that Manly have the jump on them.
Storm will be a little off the pace in 2020 I think, but will still make the playoffs.
Danny Levi is going to be a very important player for the Sea Eagles, watch him cause havoc out of dummy half.
The Storm have a solid pack, so Fonua-Blake and Taupau of Manly will have a big job ahead of them.
TIP: Sea Eagles 1-12
St George Illawarra Dragons V Wests Tigers – WIN Stadium – 20.15NZT
This could be the tightest game of the week. Both sides underperformed last year, and are both expected to do a lot better this season.
The difference in this one could be the home advantage for the Dragons, but I also liked what I saw defensively in the first half of the Charity Shield.
Wests look like a very versatile side, and I can see them putting a lot of points on the board when they get in to a rhythm. This’ll be a good game to finish round one.
TIP: Dragons 1-12
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