Footy is finally back! Get your NRL tips for Round 1 as two of the code’s great rivalries get the first weekend off to a flier.

Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos @ AAMI Park
Thursday 14th March, 7:50pm

StormBroncos
Jahrome Hughes1Darius Boyd
Suliasi Vunivalu2Corey Oates
Will Chambers3James Roberts
Curtis Scott4Jack Bird
Josh Addo-Carr5Jamayne Isaako
Cameron Munster6Anthony Milford
Brodie Croft7Kodi Nikorima
Jesse Bromwich8Matthew Lodge
Cameron Smith9Andrew McCullough
Nelson Asofa-Solomona10Joe Ofahengaue
Felise Kaufusi11Alex Glenn
Kenneath Bromwich12Jaydn Su’a
Dale Finucane13Matt Gillett
Brandon Smith14Kotoni Staggs
Christian Welch15David Fifita
Tui Kamikamica16Thomas Flegler
Patrick Kaufusi17Tevita Pangai Junior


History:
Played 47, Storm 31, Broncos 13

Last Meeting: Round 14, 2018: Storm 32 def. Broncos 16

Final Thoughts: Two of the big guns kickoff the 2019 NRL season. With both the Broncos and Storm expected to feature in September, we get an early look at two of the elite teams in the competition. The Storm are always ready to start the season. First-up specialists, they’re going to be especially tough to beat at home. While nobody doubts Anthony Seibold’s ability as a coach, he’s going to be afforded a few weeks to get the Broncos bucking. Looking back to last season, Seibold’s Bunnies didn’t start particularly fast. It’s going to be close, but it’s best to trust the Storm in this situation.

Tip: Handicap – Storm -3.5 @ $1.95

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks @ McDonald Jones Stadium
Friday 15th March, 6:00pm

KnightsSharks
Connor Watson1Matt Moylan
Edrick Lee2Sosaia Feki
Hymel Hunt3Josh Dugan
Jesse Ramien4Josh Morris
Shaun Kenny-Dowall5Sione Katoa
Kalyn Ponga6Shaun Johnson
Mitchell Pearce7Chad Townsend
David Klemmer8Andrew Fifita
Danny Levi9Jayden Brailey
James Gavet10Matt Prior
Lachlan Fitzgibbon11Briton Nikora
Sione Mata’utia12Kurt Capewell
Tim Glasby13Paul Gallen
Kurt Mann14Blayke Brailey
Aidan Guerra15Jayson Bukuya
Mitch Barnett16Aaron Woods
Daniel Saifiti17Jack Williams


History:
Played 54, Knights 28, Sharks 24

Last Meeting: Round 24, 2018: Sharks 38 def. Knights 12

Final Thoughts: While all of the hype surrounds the Knights heading into Round 1, they’re coming up against a Sharks side that has a history of taking the two points in this head-to-head matchup. The Sharks have won each of the last eight times the clubs have met with the Knights only able to keep the deficit to single digits on three occasions. Newcastle’s off-season moves are something to get excited about. However, it’s unlikely that they hit the ground running. Cronulla have a few changes of their own, but a better equipped to start the season strong. In a pick ’em game, you go with who you can trust.

Tip: Head-to-head – Sharks @ $1.95

Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs @ SCG
Friday 15th March, 7:55pm

RoostersRabbitohs
James Tedesco1Alex Johnston
Daniel Tupou2Dane Gagai
Latrell Mitchell3Greg Inglis
Joseph Manu4Braidon Burns
Brett Morris5Campbell Graham
Luke Keary6Cody Walker
Cooper Cronk7Adam Reynolds
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves8Tevita Tatola
Jake Friend9Damien Cook
Siosiua Taukeiaho10Thomas Burgess
Boyd Cordner11John Sutton
Mitchell Aubusson12Sam Burgess
Victor Radley13Cameron Murray
Isaac Liu14Liam Knight
Zane Tetevano15Mark Nicholls
Lindsay Collins16Ethan Lowe
Angus Crichton17Corey Allan


History:
Played 243, Roosters 111, Rabbitohs 124

Last Meeting: Preliminary Final, 2018: Roosters 12 def. Rabbitohs 4

Final Thoughts: It’s the oldest rivalry in rugby league and looks set to be a beauty. The two sides last met in last seasons preliminary final with the Roosters advancing to the NRL Grand Final with the 12-4 win. This is a different scenario, though. The Roosters have had a different build-up to most with the World Club Challenge while the Rabbitohs are getting used to their new coach, Wayne Bennett. Neither team will be at their best, but the rivalry and its history ensures effort won’t be an issue in the season-opener. With the Roosters claiming the best defence of last season and the Rabbitohs the best attack, this one is going to run close.

Tip: Handicap – Rabbitohs +4.5 @ $1.90

New Zealand Warriors v Canterbury-Bankston Bulldogs @ Mt Smart Stadium
Saturday 16th March, 3:00pm

WarriorsBulldogs
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck1Will Hopoate
David Fusitu’a2Christian Crichton
Peta Hiku3Kerrod Holland
Solomone Kata4Marcelo Montoya
Ken Maumalo5Reimis Smith
Adam Keighran6Kieran Foran
Blake Green7Lachlan Lewis
Agnatius Paasi8Aiden Tolman
Nathaniel Roache9Michael Lichaa
Bunty Afoa10Dylan Napa
Adam Blair11Josh Jackson
Tohu Harris12Raymond Faitala-Mariner
Lachlan Burr13Adam Elliott
Jazz Tevaga14Jeremy Marshall-King
Sam Lisone15Danny Fualalo
Leeson Ah Mau16Corey Harawira-Naera
Blake Ayshford17Sauaso Sue


History:
Played 38, Warriors 21, Bulldogs 14

Last Meeting: Round 23, 2018: Bulldogs 27 def. Warriors 26

Final Thoughts: Shaun Johnson’s departure leaves a massive gap in the Warriors attack. Everybody knows that. However, it might be a little overstated to start this NRL season. A lot of the commentary throughout the week has been geared towards the Bulldogs pulling off the upset at Mt Smart Stadium. It’s difficult to picture the Dogs having enough points in them, though. Their attack was uninspiring in 2018, and while a healthy Kieran Foran might help, he hasn’t played since Round 12 last season. The Warriors, on the other hand, have the reigning Dally M Medalist playing as part of what might be the best back-three in the NRL.

Tip: Handicap – Warriors -4 @ $1.90

Wests Tigers v Manly Sea Eagles @ Leichhardt Oval
Saturday 16th March, 5:30pm

TigersSea Eagles
Corey Thompson1Brendan Elliot
Mahe Fonua2Jorge Taufua
Paul Momirovski3Moses Suli
Esan Marsters4Brad Parker
Robert Jennings5Reuben Garrick
Benji Marshall6Kane Elgey
Luke Brooks7Daly Cherry-Evans
Ben Matulino8Addin Fonua-Blake
Robbie Farah9Apisai Koroisau
Alex Twal10Martin Taupau
Ryan Matterson11Joel Thompson
Luke Garner12Curtis Sironen
Elijah Taylor13Jake Trbojevic
Russell Packer14Trent Hodkinson
Thomas Mikaele15Jack Gosiewski
Josh Aloiai16Kelepi Tanginoa
Michael Chee-Kam17Toafofoa Sipley


History:
Played 29, Tigers 12, Sea Eagles 15

Last Meeting: Round 24, 2018: Tigers 22 def. Sea Eagles 20

Final Thoughts: The second-worst attacking team in the NRL last season hosts what was the worst defensive team. It’s a matchup that could go either way and one that can paint a picture for the season ahead. Both teams are without their first-choice fullback which hurts Manly more than it does Wests. And while the Tigers are a better 17 across the park, the Sea Eagles have the better players in key positions. Recent history suggests the Tigers will defend their line and win in a close one, but don’t be surprised to see Marty Taupau and Daly Cherry-Evans inspire and upset.

Tip: Head-to-head – Sea Eagles to win @ $2.28

North Queensland Cowboys v St George Illawarra Dragons @ 1300SMILES Stadium
Saturday 16th March, 7:35pm

CowboysDragons
Jordan Kahu1Gareth Widdop
Javid Bowen2Jordan Pereira
Justin O’Neill3Euan Aitken
Tom Opacic4Timoteo Lafai
Nene Macdonald5Mikaele Ravalawa
Te Maire Martin6Corey Norman
Michael Morgan7Ben Hunt
Matthew Scott8James Graham
Jake Granville9Cameron McInnes
Jordan McLean10Paul Vaughan
Gavin Cooper11Jacob Host
Coen Hess12Tariq Sims
Jason Taumalolo13Tyson Frizell
John Asiata14Jeremy Latimore
Josh McGuire15Matthew Dufty
Mitchell Dunn16Blake Lawrie
Francis Molo17Luciano Leilua


History:
Played 32, Cowboys 15, Dragons 15

Last Meeting: Round 19, 2018: Dragons 24 def. Cowboys 10

Final Thoughts: This game is officially the beginning of a new era in North Queensland. Johnathan Thurston is gone and this is now Michael Morgan’s team. Lucky for Morgan, he will be playing behind one of the best packs in the NRL this season. Jason Taumalolo remains one of the competition’s premier forwards while Jordan McLean will announce himself for State of Origin if he stays healthy. The Dragons aren’t too shabby though the middle either. They boast a plethora of representative talent even with Jack de Belin on the sidelines. This game will be a war through the middle and good ball in attacking positions will be at a premium.

Tip: Points Total – Under 41.5 points @ $1.90

Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels @ Panthers Stadium
Sunday 17th March, 4:05pm

PanthersEels
Dylan Edwards1Clinton Gutherson
Josh Mansour2Maika Sivo
Dean Whare3Michael Jennings
Waqa Blake4Brad Takairangi
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak5Blake Ferguson
James Maloney6Dylan Brown
Nathan Cleary7Mitchell Moses
James Tamou8Daniel Alvaro
Sione Katoa9Reed Mahoney
Reagan Campbell-Gillard10Tepai Moeroa
Jack Hetherington11Shaun Lane
Isaah Yeo12Marata Niukore
James Fisher-Harris13Nathan Brown
Wayde Egan14Will Smith
Tyrell Fuimaono15Tim Mannah
Moses Leota16Kane Evans
Hame Sele17David Gower


History:
Played 113, Panthers 47, Eels 63

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2018: Panthers 12 def. Eels 6

Final Thoughts: Will the Panthers begin the season by getting out in front and holding onto a lead, or will they continue to rely on heroic efforts and last-gasp comebacks? If they can’t comfortably deal with 2018’s wooden spooners, then it might be the latter. This Panthers side doesn’t look as good on paper as it did last season, but expectations are higher. Ivan Cleary has been waiting for this sort of opportunity and is under pressure to produce results early. As flat-track bullies that love to beat Bottom 8 teams, the Panthers should be too strong. The uncertainty around the Eels spine and a lacklustre forward pack is to great to get behind.

Tip: Handicap – Panthers -4.5 @ $1.90

Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders @ Cbus Super Stadium
Sunday 17th March, 5:10pm

TitansRaiders
Michael Gordon1Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Brenko Lee2Nick Cotric
Tyrone Peachey3Jarrod Croker
Brian Kelly4Joseph Leilua
Phillip Sami5Bailey Simonsson
Tyrone Roberts6Jack Wighton
Ashley Taylor7Aidan Sezer
Jarrod Wallace8Josh Papalii
Nathan Peats9Josh Hodgson
Shannon Boyd10Iosia Soliola
Kevin Proctor11Joseph Tapine
Ryan James12Elliott Whitehead
Jai Arrow13John Bateman
Alexander Brimson14Siliva Havili
Moeaki Fotuaika15Ryan Sutton
Max King16Dunamis Lui
Bryce Cartwright17Corey Horsburgh


History:
Played 23, Titans 12, Raiders 10

Last Meeting: Round 9, 2018: Raiders 32 def. Titans 18

Final Thoughts: Canberra’s inability to close out games in 2018 is well-documented, and it all started in this very game last year. At the same venue at the same time, the Raiders got out to 18-0 early before entering the final minutes with a four-point lead. As would be the case for the rest of the season, the Green Machine blew it. Fast forward a year and the Titans have a better roster. Meanwhile, the Raiders might be worse. Josh Hodgson is healthy and will have a significant impact, but their middles remain questionable. The Titans, on the other hand, are a chance at dominating that area most games this season. Neither offer distinct confidence, so the home side gets the nod.

Tip: Head-to-head – Titans to win 1-12 @ $1.86