The team lists for NRL round one are in and it looks like veteran Benji Marshall will play a key role for the Rabbitohs this season after being named in South Sydney’s squad who will take on in the Storm on Thursday.
Marshall, 36, has been named in the No.14 jersey and will come off the interchange bench for the Rabbitohs.
In other team news, the halves fiasco at the Broncos has gone the way of Brodie Croft, who will partner Anthony Milford in the halves, with Tom Dearden left out and placed in the reserves.
And in a move that might come as a big surprise to some, Cowboys superstar Valentine Holmes has been named to start on the wing. It’s somewhat of a backflip from coach Todd Payten, who earlier this year said Holmes would get the first crack at playing fullback this season for the club.
Young gun Scott Drinkwater has been given the nod to start the season at fullback.
Melbourne Storm v South Sydney Rabbitohs, AAMI Park, 8.05pm (AEDT) Thursday
Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. George Jennings 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Brandon Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Chris Lewis 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Nicholas Hynes 18. Darryn Schonig 19. Cooper Johns 20. Trent Loiero 21. Tyson Smoothy
Analysis: Brandon Smith will take on the No.9 duties, which had previously been held down by club legend Cameron Smith, who’s yet to make a call on his future. Young gun Harry Grant was in contention for the jersey but is currently sidelined by a medial ligament strain.
Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Dane Gagai 4. Campbell Graham 5. Josh Mansour 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Tevita Tatola 11. Jacob Host 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Cameron Murray 14. Benji Marshall 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Keaon Koloamatangi 17. Jai Arrow 18. Patrick Mago 19. Jaxson Paulo 20. Tautau Moga 21. Troy Dargan
Analysis: The club’s four big recruits – Josh Mansour, Jacob Host, Benji Marshall and Jai Arrow will all take to the field on Thursday.
Newcastle Knights v Canterbury Bulldogs, McDonald Jones Stadium, 6pm (AEDT) Friday
Knights: 1. Tex Hoy 2. Starford To’a 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Gehamat Shibasaki 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Connor Watson 14. Sauaso Sue 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Josh King 17. Brodie Jones 18. Hymel Hunt 19. Pasami Saulo 20. Jack Johns 21. Simi Sasagi
Analysis: A trio of young guns consisting of Tex Hoy, Starford To’a and Gehamat Shibasaki have all been named, with the Knights missing regular top squad players Kalyn Ponga and wingers Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt all to injuries.
Bulldogs: 1. Corey Allan 2. Nick Meaney 3. Will Hopoate 4. Nick Cotric 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 6. Jake Averillo 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Ofahiki Ogden 9. Sione Katoa 10. Jack Hetherington 11. Adam Elliott 12. Corey Waddell 13. Josh Jackson 14. Bradley Deitz 15. Renouf Atoni 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Dylan Napa 19. Tuipulotu Katoa 20. Chris Smith 21. Brandon Wakeham 22. Ava Seumanufagai
Analysis: Former Rabbitoh Corey Allan will debut for the club at fullback, while Jake Averillo joins recruit Kyle Flanagan in the halves.
Brisbane Broncos v Parramatta Eels, Suncorp Stadium, 8.05pm (AEDT) Friday
Broncos: 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Xavier Coates 3. Herbie Farnworth 4. Tesi Niu 5. David Mead 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Tevita Pangai Junior 9. Jake Turpin 10. Matthew Lodge 11. Alex Glenn 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. John Asiata 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Ben Te’o 18. Tom Dearden 19. Rhys Kennedy 20. Richard Kennar 21. Cory Paix
Analysis: Brodie Croft and Anthony Milford have been named in the halves in new coach Kevin Walters’ squad. Jamayne Isaako will start at fullback having shifted from that same position to the wing on a number of occasions over the year.
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Tom Opacic 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. Oregon Kaufusi 15. Isaiah Papali’i 16. Keegan Hipgrave 17. Will Smith 18. Haze Dunster 19. Joey Lussick 20. Jordan Rankin 21. David Hollis
Analysis: Former Cowboy Tom Opacic will start in the centres and take on the void left by Michael Jennings, who last was suspended late last year after returning a positive doping test.
Warriors v Gold Coast Titans, Central Coast Stadium, 3pm (AEDT) Saturday
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2 David Fusitu’a 3 Euan Aitken 4 Peta Hiku 5 Ken Maumalo 6 Kodi Nikorima 7 Chanel Harris-Tavita 8 Addin Fonua-Blake 9 Wayde Egan 10 Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 11 Eliesa Katoa 12 Bayley Sironen 13 Tohu Harris 14 Jazz Tevaga 15 Ben Murdoch-Masila 16 Leeson Ah Mau 17 Bunty Afoa 18 Adam Pompey 20 Sean O’Sullivan 21 Tom Ale 22 Josh Curran
Analysis: The Warriors have been given a monster Round 1 boost by naming previously injured players Eliesa Katoa and Wayde Egan for surprise returns.
Titans: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Corey Thompson 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Anthony Don 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. David Fifita 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Tyrone Peachey 15. Sam Lisone 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Erin Clark 18. Phillip Sami 19. Beau Fermor 20. Herman Ese’ese 21. Sam McIntyre
Analysis: Gold Coast fans will no doubt be excited to see their club’s two big recruits, David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who have both been named alongside skipper Kevin Proctor in the back row.
Sydney Roosters v Manly Sea Eagles, SCG, 5.30pm (AEDT) Saturday
Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Lachlan Lam 7. Luke Keary 8. Lindsay Collins 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Angus Crichton 12. Sitili Tupouniua 13. Isaac Liu 14. Adam Keighran 15. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 16. Nat Butcher 17. Daniel Suluka-fifita 18. Matt Ikuvalu 19. Fletcher Baker 20. Freddy Lussick 21. Sam Walker
Analysis: Despite some talk that Sam Walker would start in the halves alongside two-time premiership winner Luke Keary, coach Trent Robinson has opted to go with Lachlan Lam. Fans will have to wait at least another week to see young guns Victor Radley and Sam Verrills back after the pair both went down with season-ending injuries last year.
Sea Eagles: 1. Dylan Walker 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Martin Taupau 11. Jack Gosiewski 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Tevita Funa 15. Andrew Davey 16. Morgan Boyle 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Josh Schuster 19. Sean Keppie 20. Toafofoa Sipley 21. Morgan Harper
Analysis: Coach Des Hasler has made a surprise pick by selecting Dylan Walker to star at fullback, with star No.1 Tom Trbojevic sidelined with a hamstring injury. Morgan Harper has been placed in the reserves despite starting at fullback during Manly’s pre-season clash with the Tigers earlier this month.
Penrith Panthers v North Queensland Cowboys, Panthers Stadium, 7.35pm (AEDT) Saturday
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Charlie Staines 3. Paul Momirovski 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Tyrone May 15. Spencer Leniu 16. Matthew Eisenhuth 17. Liam Martin 18. J’maine Hopgood 19. Matt Burton 20. Robert Jennings 21. Mitch Kenny
Analysis: Tyrone May has been shifted to the bench, with off-season recruit Paul Momirovski earning the starting nod in the centres alongside Stephen Crichton.
Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Esan Marsters 4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Michael Morgan 7. Jake Clifford 8. Francis Molo 9. Reece Robson 10. Jordan McLean 11. Mitchell Dunn 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Josh Mcguire 16. Corey Jensen 17. Lachlan Burr 18. Shane Wright 19. Reuben Cotter 20. Murray Taulagi 21. Ben Hampton
Analysis: Scott Drinkwater will start the season at fullback for the club ahead of Valentine Holmes and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow who were both in contention for the jersey. Michael Morgan also returns and will be partnered by Jake Clifford in the halves.
Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers, GIO Stadium, 4.05pm (AEDT) Sunday
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Sebastian Kris 4. Curtis Scott 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine 14. Siliva Havili 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Ryan James 18. Sam Williams 19. Tom Starling 20. Emre Guler 21. Harley Smith-Shields
Analysis: Sebastian Kris has been given the nod to replace the injured Jarrod Croker, while recruit Ryan James, who’s missed most of the past two seasons due to injury, has been named on the interchange.
Tigers: 1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. James Roberts 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Moses Mbye 7. Luke Brooks 8. James Tamou 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Joe Ofahengaue 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Tommy Talau 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Stefano Utoikamanu 17. Russell Packer 18. Jock Madden 19. Michael Chee-Kam 20. Tukimihia Simpkins 21. Alex Seyfarth
Analysis: Moses Mbye has been named at No.6 and will partner Luke Brooks in the halves. Coach Michael Maguire has also opted to go with young gun off-season recruit Daine Laurie at fullback.
St George Illawarra Dragons v Cronulla Sharks, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, 6.15pm (AEDT) Sunday
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Cody Ramsey 3. Jack Bird 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Adam Clune 7. Ben Hunt 8. Blake Lawrie 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Josh Kerr 12. Tariq Sims 13. Tyrell Fuimaono 14. Poasa Faamausili 15. Trent Merrin 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Brayden Wiliame 18. Jackson Ford 19. Kaide Ellis 20. Jordan Pereira 21. Max Feagai
Analysis: Former Bronco Andrew McCullough will start at hooker after Cameron McInnes out for the season with an ACL injury.
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Chad Townsend 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Connor Tracey 15. Aiden Tolman 16. Jack Williams 17. Billy Magoulias 18. Mawene Hiroti 19. Teig Wilton 20. Andrew Fifita 21. Braydon Trindall
Analysis: Matt Moylan, who’s been hampered in recent times due to hamstring issues, will start the season at five-eighth, with Shaun Johnson still recovering from an Achilles injury. Veteran and premiership winner Andrew Fifita has been left out of the squad and placed on the reserves.