Bird key to Broncos, Stuart's future on the line

The 2019 NRL season is just weeks away and with trial games locked in and playing rosters largely settled, we take the opportunity to look through each of the sixteen clubs, four at a time.

We name their best line-ups, look at who they face to start the season and predict how they'll go in the opening five rounds.

Brisbane Broncos

Best 17
1. Darius Boyd, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Jack Bird, 4. James Roberts, 5. Jordan Kahu, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Kodi Nikorima, 8. Matt Lodge, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Joseph Ofahengaue, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Tevita Pangai jnr, Bench: 14. Sam Tagataese, 15. Jaydn Su'A, 16. Payne Haas 16. David Fifita, 17. Kotoni Staggs

Saturday February 16 vs. Souths Logan Magpies - Warwick
Saturday February 23 vs. PNG Hunters - National Stadium Port Moresby
6:30pm, Saturday March 2 vs, Gold Coast Titans - Gold Coast

The start
The Broncos face a tough start to the season, facing the Storm, Cowboys, Dragons and Roosters before tackling the Tigers. There will be no settling in period for new coach Anthony Seibold, as anything short of their best could see them languishing down towards the bottom of the ladder. They do have the advantage of playing three of those five at home and all but one on a Thursday night. Seibold will need to find a winning formula with a largely untouched squad and fans will be hoping he can reignite the career of the so-far-disappointing Jack Bird.
Prediction: Win 2/5

First five games
Storm - AAMI Park - 7:50pm, Thursday March 14
Cowboys - Suncorp Stadium - 7:50pm, Friday March 22
Dragons - Suncorp Stadium - 7:50pm, Thursday March 28
Roosters - SCG - 7:50pm, Thursday April 4
Tigers - Suncorp Stadium - 7:50pm, Thursday April 11

Canberra Raiders

Best 17 1. Nick Cotric, 2. Brad Abbey, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Sia Soliola, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Ryan Sutton, 11. Elliott Whitehead, 12. Joe Tapine, 13. Josh Papalii, Bench: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Royce Hunt, 16. Dunamis Lui, 17. John Bateman.

5:30pm Friday February 15 vs. Parramatta Eels - St Marys Leagues Stadium
5:30pm Saturday February 23 vs. Canterbury Bulldogs - Bega Recreation Ground

The start
Ricky Stuart looks to be one coach who will be feeling the heat if his Raiders don't get off to a solid start in 2019. They have a draw that should allow them to be up around the top end of the ladder after five weeks, playing four teams which finished below them in 2018. Their big test will be at home to the Storm in the second round. If they can start with a win over the Titans and upset the Storm at home, they will carry plenty of confidence into games against the Knights, Cowboys and Eels.
Prediction: Win 3/5

First five games
Titans - Cbus Super Stadium - 6:10pm, Sunday March 17
Storm - GIO Stadium - 6pm, Friday March 22
Knights - GIO Stadium - 6pm, Friday March 29
Cowboys - 1300SMILES Stadium - 5:30pm, Saturday April 6
Eels - GIO Stadium - 6:10pm, Sunday April 14

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

Best 17
1. Nick Meaney, 2. Christian Crichton, 3. Will Hopoate, 4. Kerrod Holland, 5. Reimis Smith, 6. Lachlan Lewis, 7. Kieran Foran, 8. Dylan Napa, 9. Michael Lichaa, 10. Aiden Tolman, 11. Josh Jackson, 12. Corey Harawira-Naera , 13. Adam Elliott. Bench: 14. Jeremy Marshall-King, 15. Rhyse Martin, 16. Sauaso Sue, 17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner

5:30pm Saturday February 23 vs. Canberra Raiders - Bega Recreation Ground

The start
The Bulldogs start their second year under coach Dean Pay, having signed a group of promising talent from around the NRL. They face the enigmatic Warriors first up in New Zealand where they have a fairly sound record before returning to face the Tigers and Eels. Pay will be looking to win at least two of the first three before facing sterner tests again the Storm and Dragons, both on the road. A lot will be expected of Kieran Foran on his return from an extended injury break. If he works well with Lachlan Lewis the Bulldogs could find themselves surprisingly near the top of the ladder early.
Prediction: Win 3/5

First five games
Warriors - Mt Smart Stadium - 3pm, Saturday March 16
Eels - ANZ Stadium - 4:05pm, Sunday March 24
Tigers - Campbelltown Stadium - 4:04pm, Sunday March 31
Storm - AAMI Park - 4:05pm, Sunday April 7
Dragons - Jubilee Stadium - 4:05pm, Sunday April 14

Cronulla Sutherland Sharks

Best 17
1. Matt Moylan, 2. Sione Katoa, 3. Josh Dugan, 4. Josh Morris, 5. Sosaia Feki, 6. Shaun Johnson, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Jayson Bukuya, 12. Wade Graham, 13. Paul Gallen, Bench: 14. Ava Seumanufagai, 15. Scott Sorensen, 16. Aaron Woods, 17. Kurt Capewell

7:30pm, Saturday February 23 vs. Sea Eagles - Lottoland
5:30pm, Saturday March 2 vs. Knights - Maitland No. 1 Sportsground

The start
There has been a lot of turmoil in the Shire during the offseason, with coach Shane Flannigan's deregistration by the NRL leading the way. John Morris takes over the reins and has a fairly friendly draw to start the season. The Sharks have had some personnel changes on the field as well, losing Valentine Holmes, but gaining Shaun Johnson. They boast a lot of experience and will be extremely dangerous as they look to show the world that they remain a genuine premiership threat.
Prediction: Win 4/5

First five games
Knights - McDonald Jones Stadium - 6pm, Friday March 15
Titans - Shark Park - 3pm, Saturday March 23
Cowboys - 1300SMILES Stadium - 5:30pm, Saturday March 30
Eels - ANZ Stadium - 7:35pm, Saturday April 6
Roosters - Shark Park - 7:35pm, Saturday April 13