EIGHT TALKING POINTS AHEAD OF THE OPENING EIGHT MATCHES IN ROUND ONE OF THE NEW NRL SEASON:
Eels v Broncos, Pirtek Stadium, Thursday March 3, 8.05pm
Kieran Foran’s first outing in the Eels halves comes up against 2015’s leading pairing in Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford. How will Foran’s new combination with Corey Norman hold up against the Broncos duo?
Sea Eagles v Bulldogs, Brookvale Oval, Friday March 4, 8.05pm
Oft deried as soft during a disappointing 2015, Manly’s beefed up pack gets the chance to prove they are anything but marshmallow up the middle in their opening game against the NRL’s biggest pack.
Raiders v Panthers, GIO Stadium, Saturday March 5, 3pm
Can Raiders coach Ricky Stuart mould Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin into an effective halves combination? Can new Panthers mentor Anthony Griffin help aging pairing Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace discover their old magic?
Tigers v Warriors, Campbelltown Stadium, Saturday March 5, 5.30pm
The two most under pressure coaches in the NRL go head-to-head in this one. Both the Tigers’ Jason Taylor and the Warriors’ Andrew McFadden will be desperate for a round one win to keep that hubbub to a din.
Cowboys v Sharks, 1300 Smiles Stadium, Saturday March 5, 7.30pm
It is a return to the scene of the Sharks’ finals horror show, the visitors can show how much they have learned in the off season with a win here. Conversely, premiers the Cowboys can illustrate why so many pundits believe they can go back-to-back.
Roosters v Rabbitohs, Allianz Stadium, Sunday March 6, 4pm.
What impact will Sam Burgess’ return from rugby union have for the Rabbitohs and will the Roosters’ collection of off-season off-field woes translate onto the field with a host of stars missing?
Titans v Knights, Cbus Super Stadium, Sunday March 6, 6.30pm
Very little is expected from either side this year. Just how little we might find out straight away.
Storm v Dragons, AAMI Park, Monday March 7, 7pm
How successful can Josh Dugan’s move to the centres be and will the Dragons miss him at the back? The Storm Big Three are a year older, has Father Time finally caught up with them?