NRL Preview Round 1: line-ups, verdict, tips, odds; everything you need to know for the weekend

The 2018 NRL season kicks off this week, with plenty of familiar faces in unfamiliar colours. Everything you thought you knew about these teams goes out the window with so many key personnel changes. We give you all the information we can to help you wade through the tipping nightmare that is the opening round.

Thursday, March 8

St George Illawarra Dragons vs. Brisbane Broncos, Jubilee Oval at 7.05pm (AEDT)

Dragons: 18. Matthew Dufty, 2. Nene Macdonald, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Jason Nightingale, 6. Gareth Widdop (capt), 7. Ben Hunt, 8. James Graham, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Jack De Belin Reserves: 14. Luciano Leilua, 15. Kurt Mann, 16. Leeson Ah Mau, 17. Hame Sele, 19. Jeremy Latimore, 20. Zachary Lomax, 21. Blake Lawrie, 22. Joshua Kerr

Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd (capt), 2. Corey Oates, 3. James Roberts, 4. Jordan Kahu, 5. Jamayne Isaako, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Matthew Lodge, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Samuel Thaiday, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire Reserves: 14. Tevita Pangai Jnr, 15. Joe Ofahengaue, 16. Korbin Sims, 17. Jaydn Su'a, 18. Tom Opacic, 19. Sam Tagataese, 20. Jonus Pearson, 21. George Fai

Verdict: If Ben Hunt were hoping to ease his way into his new multi-million-dollar job with the Dragons, then the NRL has done him no favours. Hunt has been thrown straight into the fire, facing his former team in front of a packed Jubillee Oval in the NRL season opener. Dragons fans are very passionate, and they will expect Hunt to prove himself against the Broncos -- a team with which they have had a fierce rivalry since the early 1990s. Coach Paul McGregor is running out of excuses for the Dragons, and he will be under enormous pressure to produce a win here against the old master Wayne Bennett.

Tip: Dragons

TAB odds: Dragons 1.80 (1.90 - 5pts) Broncos 2.00 (1.90 +5pts)

Friday, March 9

Newcastle Knights vs. Manly Sea Eagles, Hunter Stadium at 6:00pm (AEDT)

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 3. Sione Mata'utia, 4 Tautau Moga, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Mitchell Pearce (capt), 8. Herman Ese'ese, 9. Slade Griffin, 10. Jacob Lillyman, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Aidan Guerra, 13. Mitchell Barnett Reserves: 14. Brock Lamb, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Jamie Buhrer (capt), 17. Daniel Saifiti, 18. Ken Sio, 19. Jacob Saifiti, 20. Daniel Levi, 21. Luke Yates

Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Matthew Wright, 4. Brian Kelly, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Lachlan Croker, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (capt), 8. Addin Fonua-Blake, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. Martin Taupau, 11. Joel Thompson, 12. Curtis Sironen, 13. Jake Trbojevic Reserves: 14. Lewis Brown, 15. Shaun Lane, 16. Frank Winterstein, 17. Kelepi Tanginoa, 18. Bradley Parker, 19. Jackson Hastings, 20. Jack Gosiewski, 21. Lloyd Perrett

Verdict: Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has the chance to unleash his newly built Knights machine against a Sea Eagles team that went nowhere in the recruitment department during the off-season. Lachlan Croker has replaced Blake Green in the halves next to Daly Cherry-Evans for Manly, and it will be interesting to see how they go against Mitchell Pearce and Connor Watson. Knights fans are expecting big things this year, but they may have to be patient as this well-established Sea Eagles team did finish a surprising sixth last year.

Tip: Sea Eagles

TAB odds: Newcastle 1.90 (1.80 +5pts) Sea Eagles 1.90 (2.00 -5pts)

North Queensland Cowboys vs. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks, 1300SMILES Stadium at 7:50pm (AEDT)

Cowboys: 1. Ben Hampton 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O'Neill 4. Javid Bowen 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Michael Morgan 7. Johnathan Thurston (capt) 8. Matt Scott (capt) 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Jason Taumalolo. Reserves: 14. Te Maire Martin, 15. Coen Hess, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. John Asiata, 18. Corey Jensen, 19. Kyle Laybutt, 20. Francis Molo, 21. Enari Tuala

Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Josh Dugan, 4. Ricky Leutele, 5. Sione Katoa, 6. Matthew Moylan, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matthew Prior, 11. Luke Lewis, 12. Wade Graham, 13. Paul Gallen (capt) Reserves: 14. Jayson Bukuya, 15. James Segeyaro, 16. Avagalu Seumanufagai, 17. Joseph Paulo, 18. Kurt Capewell, 19. Kurt Dillon, 20. Aaron Gray, 21. Trent Hodkinson

Verdict: The Cowboys host the Sharks in what should be one of the best clashes of the round. The Sharks have sharpened their backline teeth with the inclusion of Matt Moylan and Josh Dugan, but they come up against last year's grand finalists strengthened by the return of Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott. The Sharks should be exciting to watch, but we can't see Thurston letting this one slip in front of his home crowd.

Tip: Cowboys

TAB odds: Sharks 1.50 (1.85 -5.5pts) Cowboys 2.60 (1.95 +5pts)

Saturday, March 10

Wests Tigers vs. Sydney Roosters, ANZ Stadium at 4:30pm (AEDT)

Tigers: 1. Tuimoala Lolohea, 2. Corey Thompson, 3. Esan Marsters, 4. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Russell Packer, 9. Pita Godinet, 10. Ben Matulino, 11. Chris Lawrence (capt), 12. Robbie Rochow, 13. Elijah Taylor Reserves: 14. Benji Marshall, 15. Alex Twal, 16. Michael Chee Kam, 17. Matt Eisenhuth, 18. Matt McIlwrick, 19. David Nofoaluma, 20. Tim Grant, 21. Taane Milne.

Roosters: 1. James Tedesco, 5. Blake Ferguson, 4. Joseph Manu, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 2. Daniel Tupou, 6. Mitchell Cornish, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Jake Friend (capt), 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 11. Boyd Cordner (capt), 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Isaac Liu Reserves: 14. Dylan Napa, 15. Zane Tetevano, 16. Ryan Matterson, 17. Victor Radley, 18. Reece Robinson, 19. Luke Keary, 20. Nat Butcher, 21. Lindsay Collins

Verdict: Both the Tigers and the Roosters welcome a State of Origin-winning half to their ranks this year. The Tigers have former Bulldogs livewire Josh Reynolds. while the Roosters have Cooper Cronk. Those two alone sum up perfectly this battle between the have nots and the have everythings. Aside from interest in the halves, this game is notable for Roosters fullback James Tedesco coming up against his old club for the first time. The Tigers would love nothing more than to prove to Tedesco that he should have stayed, but they will struggle against a club that was already very good before adding superstars Cronk and Tedesco.

Tip: Roosters

TAB odds: Tigers 3.50 (1.90 +10.5pts) Roosters 1.30 (1.90 -10.5pts)

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. New Zealand Warriors, Perth Stadium 7:00pm (AEDT)

Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston, 2. Richie Kennar, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Greg Inglis (capt), 5. Robert Jennings, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. Thomas Burgess, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Mark Nicholls, 11. John Sutton, 12. Angus Crichton, 13. Sam Burgess Reserves: 14. Cameron Murray, 15. Tyrell Fuimaono, 16. George Burgess, 17. Junior Tatola, 18. Robbie Farah, 19. Jason Clark, 20. Hymel Hunt, 21. Adam Doueihi.

Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (capt), 2. David Fusitua, 3. Peta Hiku, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Blake Green, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. James Gavet, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Adam Blair, 11. Isaiah Papali'i, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Ligi Sao Reserves: 14. Sam Cook, 15. Leivaha Pulu, 16. Sam Lisone, 17. Bunty Afoa, 18. Jazz Tevaga, 20. Mason Lino, 21. Agnatius Paasi, 22. Anthony Gelling

Verdict: The Rabbitohs and Warriors open Saturday night's double header at Perth's new stadium, in what is a real lucky dip for NRL tippers. The Rabbitohs were inconsistent last year, but they are up against the team that wrote the book on inconsistency. The return of Greg Inglis is a huge lift for South Sydney and I think the Rabbitohs will win to impress their new coach -- unless the Warriors have found a fountain of motivation in the off-season; even then I still think the Rabbitohs will win.

Tip: Rabbitohs

TAB odds: Rabbitohs 1.45 (1.90 - 6.5pts) Warriors 2.75 (1.95 +6.5pts)

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs vs. Melbourne Storm, Perth Stadium 9:00pm (AEDT)

Bulldogs: 1. Moses Mbye, 2. Brett Morris, 3. Josh Morris, 4. Will Hopoate, 5. Marcelo Montoya, 6. Matthew Frawley, 7. Kieran Foran, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Michael Lichaa, 10. David Klemmer, 11. Joshua Jackson (capt), 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13. Danny Fualalo Reserves: 14. Adam Elliott, 15. Aiden Tolman, 16. Greg Eastwood, 17. Jeremy Marshall-King, 19. Asipeli Fine, 20. Kerrod Holland, 21. Francis Tualau, 23. John Olive

Storm: 1. Cameron Munster, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Ryley Jacks, 7. Brodie Croft, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith (capt), 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Dale Finucane Reserves: 14. Tim Glasby, 15. Kenny Bromwich, 16. Christian Welch, 17. Joe Stimson, 18. Young Tonumaipea, 19. Tui Kamikamica, 20. Sam Kasiano, 21. Billy Walters

Verdict: The second game of the double-header in Perth sees the Bulldogs up against the reigning premiers. Under new coach Dean Pay, the Bulldogs are promising a return to the old days of brutal physicality in the middle of the park accompanied by sparkling ball movement through the backs. Can they put all that together in the first game of the year against the team that defeated all-comers last year? I don't think so, but it should be an interesting game.

Tip: Storm

TAB odds: Bulldogs 3.00 (1.90 + 6.5pts) Storm 1.40 (1.90 -6.5pts)

Sunday, March 11

Penrith Panthers vs. Parramatta Eels, Pepper Stadium 4:10pm (AEDT)

Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Waqa Blake, 4. Tyrone Peachey, 5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 6. James Maloney, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. James Tamou, 9. Peter Wallace (capt), 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Isaah Yeo, 13. Trent Merrin Reserves: 14. Corey Harawira-Naera, 15. Sam McKendry, 16. Moses Leota, 17. James Fisher-Harris, 18. Sione Katoa, 19. Tim Browne, 20. Christian Crichton, 21. Jarome Luai

Eels: 1. Bevan French, 2. Josh Hoffman, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Jarryd Hayne, 5. Kirisome Auva'a, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Mitchell Moses, 8. Daniel Alvaro, 9. Cameron King, 10. Tim Mannah (capt), 11. Manu Ma'u, 12. Tepai Moeroa, 13. Nathan Brown Reserves: 14. Beau Scott (capt), 15. Brad Takairangi, 16. Suaia Matagi, 17. Kane Evans, 18. Will Smith, 19. Kenny Edwards, 20. David Gower, 21. Kaysa Pritchard

Verdict: The battle of the west sees the confused Panthers up against the prodigal son-led Eels. Much of the recent talk out of Penrith has centred on doubts over who is actually coaching the team, with Phil Gould seemingly crossing the line between desk jockey and clipboard holder. Anthony Griffin will be well aware that he has limited time to produce the goods now that troublesome half Matt Moylan has left and ultimate professional James Maloney has taken his place. How well the Eels perform will depend a lot on how well Jarryd Hayne slots into the team. Another intriguing clash.

Tip: Panthers

TAB odds: Panthers 1.90 (2.00 -1.5pts) Eels 1.90 (1.80 +1.5pts)

Gold Coast Titans vs. Canberra Raiders, Cbus Super Stadium, 6:30pm (AEDT)

Titans: 1. Michael Gordon, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Dale Copley, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. Phillip Sami, 6. Kane Elgey, 7. Ashley Taylor, 8. Jai Arrow, 9. Nathan Peats, 10. Leilani Latu, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Ryan James (capt), 13. Bryce Cartwright Reserves: 14. Mitch Rein, 15. Max King, 16. Will Matthews, 17. Morgan Boyle, 18. Joe Greenwood, 19. Jai Whitbread, 20. Tyronne Roberts Davis, 21. Aj Brimson

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (capt), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Aidan Sezer, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Joe Tapine, 13. Elliott Whitehead Reserves: 14. Blake Austin, 15. Luke Bateman, 16. Dunamis Lui, 17. Sia Soliola, 18. Charlie Gubb, 19. Brad Abbey, 20. Royce Hunt, 21. Craig Garvey.

Verdict: The opening round finishes with a fixture between two of 2017's more disappointing teams. The Titans have added genuine talent in Michael Gordan and Bryce Cartwright, and they received a morale boost when Ash Taylor decided to stay. New coach Garth Brennan needs to turn things around quickly, especially at home. Ricky Stuart is under enormous pressure to take the Raiders back to the finals. This one is a real toss of the coin.

Tip: Titans

TAB odds: Titans 2.35 (2.00 +2.5pts) Raiders 1.60 (1.80 -2.5pts)