Round 1 predicted teams: Manly star set for shock switch

We analyse the positional battles which will decide how your club will line up in the opening match of the season and rate the players set for a hot start in KFC SuperCoach.

Reuben Garrick has revealed a switch to the centres was part of his decision to reject a move to Newcastle and re-sign with Manly.

The Knights were keen on luring Garrick with the carrot of the No.1 jumper, however the versatile Sea Eagles back was always intent on staying on Sydney’s northern beaches.

“I definitely want to switch to the centres,” Garrick told Fox Sports.

“Whether that happens straight away or not depends on how the backline sits with injuries and stuff like that for the start of the season, but I would love to play there.”

Star fullback Tom Trbojevic remains on track for a return for the season-opener following his well-documented recovery in the United States.

However, should he need more time, Garrick, who deputised for Trbojevic for most of last year, suggested there could be another option under new coach Anthony Seibold.

“Whether it is me or one of the young fellas, Kaeo Weekes has been training really well at fullback as well, so I’m sure we will be able to do a job,” Garrick said.

“But our priority is getting Turbo on the field because he makes everyone around him better players.”

While all eyes are on how Trbojevic returns from his American sojourn, there is plenty of focus on how young Josh Schuster fares as the replacement of Kieran Foran.

Garrick said Schuster has benefited from the change in coach.

“Seibs has really brought a lot of these young guys up and given them more of a voice in our meetings and our team and that is only a benefit for our whole team,” he said.

“He is one of the guys that has benefited from that and he is starting to take a lot of ownership out on that edge and it is great to see.

“He is a great fella and I love playing outside him because something is always happening when he has the ball.”


Throw out the form guide because NRL teams for round one 2023 are set to look very different to how they finished last year.

Injuries, suspensions, recruits and departures will see mass changes at many clubs.

Not to mention that we welcome an entirely new club in the Dolphins. Here’s how each side is set to line up for the opening round of the season.


Predicted round one team: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Will Penisini 4. Haze Dunster/Daejarn Asi 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. J’maine Hopgood

Bench: 14. Jake Arthur 15. Makahesi Makatoa 16. Jack Murchie 17. Nathan Brown

Casualty ward: Ryan Matterson (Suspended, Rd4), Bailey Simonsson (Shoulder, indefinite), Waqa Blake (Arm, TBC), Nathan Brown (Hamstring, TBC)

Pre-season news: Parramatta’s preparations have been dealt a blow with Waqa Blake suffering an arm injury and Nathan Brown also going down with a hamstring issue.

Blake is believed to have broken his arm during training, leaving the backline star in doubt for the Eels’ pre-season trials next month.

Brown’s setback is understood to be less severe, however the nature of the injury means the veteran forward may also struggle to get some warm-up action.

The Eels’ first trial is against grand final opponents Penrith on February 11 at CommBank Stadium, before facing Newcastle on the Central Coast on February 17.

Key positional battle: The injury to Waqa Blake leaves the Eels in need of a centre. Bailey Simonsson, Haze Dunster and Sean Russell are all options though the trio are more wingers than centres. Recent recruit Daejarn Asi was used in the halves by the Warriors but had four NRL starts in the centres for the Cowboys in 2021. The departure of Isaiah Papali’I opens a backrow slot at the Eels and I expect Penrith recruit J’maine Hopgood to nab it. Ryan Matterson’s decision to take a suspension rather than pay a fine meant Hopgood would likely start in round one anyway but I expect once Matterson is available for selection that it is Bryce Cartwright rather than Hopgood who makes way.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers:Parra have a really tough draw early which has me avoiding the Eels’ spine early doors. One Eel at a very reasonable price is former Panther Hopgood. Playing in the NSW Cup, Hopgood pumped out stellar stats averaging 38 tackles, 10+ runs, three tackle busts and two offloads while scoring eight tries. In the one NRL game he did get to start – round 25 when Penrith rested their stars – Hopgood scored 67 points in 68 minutes.


Predicted round one team: 1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane

Bench: 14. Cameron McInnes 15. Wade Graham 16. Royce Hunt 17. Oregon Kaufusi

Casualty ward: Matt Ikuvalu (Knee, indefinite)

Key positional battle: The backline is very settled with the only likely moving pieces being in the forwards. Wade Graham has signed on to play one more year for the Sharks and is preparing to fill plenty of gaps in 2023. “I’m floating all over the place at the moment in training,” he told Michael Carayannis on SEN Radio. “I’m playing in the back row, a bit of middle. I even got in the halves a couple of times.

“Round one is still a fair distance away but if we were to play tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t be in the starting team, if I’m honest, the way we’re training. But, there’s still plenty of time to go before round one. We will just see how we go. Footy’s a funny thing, you never want to look too far ahead.”

I expect Royce Hunt and Braden Hamlin-Uele will play similar minutes no matter who gets the start.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: Nicho Hynes was immense in his first year at the Sharks scoring 1973 points (the eighth best season score ever) averaging 85.8PPG. With a position leading base average of 32PPG and base/power of 42PPG, Hynes is about as safe a scorer any halfback. However, no halfback is immune from strength of schedule factors – full draw analysis is not far away I promise – and the Sharks have a tough start to the season. Hynes’ average against top-eight teams in 2022 was 63.6PPG from eight games. Compare that to his average against bottom-eight teams (97.5PPG from 15 games – gee the Sharks had a soft draw eh?) and it is a worry for those taking Hynes early.


Predicted round one team: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Pat Carrigan

Bench: 14. Cory Paix 15. Keenan Palasia 16. Martin Taupau 17. Corey Jensen

Casualty ward: Kobe Hetherington (Biceps, indefinite)

Key positional battle: A largely settled backline with new recruit Reece Walsh locked in to play fullback much to the chagrin of fullback aspirants Herbie Farnworth and Selwyn Cobbo. It’s expected Billy Walters will hold off the challenge of Cory Paix to start at hooker. Would not shock to see Corey Jensen start with Tom Flegler coming on off the bench against tired forwards.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: Hard to find. Walters might be interesting with a full pre-season preparing to play hooker under his belt but his price is awkward. I’m a little off Payne Haas who has been overtaken in the premium FRF category by both Joe Tapine and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui. Twist my arm and I suppose I would say that Pat Carrigan is a ‘maybe’, will see how he looks in the trials and what sort of minutes we might expect. But elsewhere I just cannot see value compared to price for any Bronco.


Predicted round one team: 1. Xavier Savage 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papalii 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh

Bench: 14. Tom Starling/Danny Levi 15. Corey Harawira-Naera 16. Emre Guler 17. Pasami Saulo

Casualty ward: All expected to be available for selection by round one.

Key positional battle: The backline at the Raiders looks pretty settled leaving the only battles as 1. who plays lock and 2. how Ricky Stuart uses his hookers. Early mail is the battle for lock is between the two Coreys. The Horsburgh of the Coreys is a better defender, though a limited ballplayer. The Hyphen of the Coreys has much better hands but Mr Harawira-Naera can certainly miss a tackle. One other option would be to move Elliott Whitehead to lock and play Harawira-Naera in the second-row. The acquisition of Danny Levi from Super League club Huddersfield gives Canberra three hooking options – the only one who would be SuperCoach relevant is Tom Starling if he were locked in to play big minutes but his diminutive frame does not seem up for that.

Early KFC SuperCoach buys/avoids: Joe Tapine stepped up to well and truly join the elite FRF ranks in SC and real life in 2022. His workrate in offence was significantly higher than previous years, regularly taking two hit-ups in set and there was venom in the runs with career-best tackle bust numbers. If there’s is a worry it is that Tapine seems to work into his season with his average score in rounds 11-20 being significantly better than his average in rounds 1-10 in every season of the past five. Still, no Origin is a big boost and I think Tapine may have supplanted Haas as the set and forget FRF of 2023.


Predicted round one team: 1. Hayze Perham 2. Braidon Burns 3. Jacob Kiraz 4. Paul Alamoti 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan/Jake Averillo 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Luke Thompson 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Tevita Pangai Junior

Bench: 14. Fa’amanu Brown/Jackson Topine 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Andrew Davey 17. Chris Patolo

Casualty ward: Bailey Biondi-Odo (Knee, Rd 21), Sam Hughes (Back, Rd 3), Declan Casey (Shoulder, Rd 2)

Key positional battle: While the spine is settled there are plenty of battles still to be had at the Dogs before round one. Coach Cameron Ciraldo is set to give Hayze Perham the first crack at fullback. This casts some doubt over Jake Averillo’s spot in the team, who could fill in at centre or compete with Kyle Flanagan for the No.7 jersey. Braidon Burns, Jacob Kiraz, Paul Alamoti appear to have the nod to fill the backline (with Josh Addo-Carr locked in). In the forwards any combination of Pangai Jr, Sutton, King and Thompson can fill 8, 10, 13 and the bench with the actual starting trio still very much up in the air. The second-row battle between Andrew Davey and Raymond Faitala-Mariner is far from decided too.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: Not a lot of SuperCoach gold on offer to my eye at Belmore. There is some cheapie sparkle though with boom youngster Paul Alamoti a chance to finally show his wares in the NRL. Alamoti is not a certainty of selection to start the season but there is a centre slot up for grabs and he’s a strong chance of nailing it. Alamoti has been a star throughout his junior years and in 2022 he played against the men in the NSW Cup. In 15 games he scored four tries, assisted in four more, averaged almost three tackle busts per game while running for 150 metres per. Come on Ciraldo, do us SuperCoaches a solid and pick the kid will ya? Meanwhile, at $370k Hayze Perham has significant upside if he can lockdown the No.1 jersey. Not quite a cheapie but definitely affordable!


Predicted round one team: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tesi Niu 5. Edrick Lee 6. Anthony Milford 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Mark Nicholls 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenny Bromwich 13. Tom Gilbert

Bench: 14. Kodi Nikorima 15. Ray Stone, 16. Jarrod Wallace 17. Herman Ese’ese

Casualty ward: All expected to be available for selection by round one.

Key positional battle: Travis Meyn reports that the starting pack is pretty much set. Wayne Bennett is set to go with Tabuai-Fidow at fullback, Milford at five-eighth and O’Sullivan at halfback, which likely leaves Isaiya Katoa, Gildart and Brenko Lee out of the side. Euan Aitken has confirmed he will make the switch back to centre, after spending time in the backrow over the past two seasons. The makeup of the bench looks rather unsettled, so hopefully we get a better guide from the trials. Tom Gilbert is set to win the starting lock position, but Bennett could still hand the No.13 jersey to Ray Stone and use Gilbert in the front row.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: With only a strong vibe about how the round one backline will look – and no real idea on how it will gel, I’m making Tom Gilbert my guy to watch at the Fins. Gilbert was excellent for the Cowboys in 2022 whether that be on an edge or rolling up his sleeves and working through the middle. With dual position eligibility and tipped to get first crack working through the middle as the team’s starting No. 13 I think he’ll blossom in 2023 and prove a savvy buy.


Predicted round one team: 1. AJ Brimson 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Phillip Sami 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. JoJo Fifita 6. Kieran Foran 7. Tanah Boyd 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Sam Verrills 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. David Fifita 12. Beau Fermor 13. Erin Clark

Bench: 14. Jayden Campbell 15. Joe Stimson 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Isaac Liu

Casualty ward: Brian Kelly (Suspension, Rd 4), Patrick Herbert (Knee, indefinite)

Key positional battle: Trav Meyn brings the gold again, revealing Tanah Boyd has won the battle to partner Kieran Foran in the Gold Coast’s new-look spine here. It’s a very inexperienced wing pairing though Fifita was very impressive and held his spot after making his debut in round 18 last year.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: Boyd played the final five games of the season at halfback and averaged a very respectable 60PPG while doing so. Admittedly it was a generally soft run of games (excepting the Storm) but if he is to come out averaging 50PPG over the opening eight weeks then he should climb around 100K while providing excellent points per dollar considering his $380K starting price. Erin Clark excelled as a ball-playing lock late in 2022, if he gets a start there in 2023 he has to come under serious consideration at his price.


Predicted round one team: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Christian Tuipulotu 3. Tolu Koula 4. Brad Parker 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Josh Schuster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Taniela Paseka 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Jake Trbojevic

Bench: 14. Ben Trbojevic 15. Toafofoa Sipley 16. Sean Keppie 17. Ben Condon

Casualty ward: Karl Lawton (Knee, Rd 4), Morgan Boyle (Foot, indefinite), Morgan Harper (Shoulder, indefinite), Jason Saab (Knee, indefinite) Alec Tuitavake (Knee, indefinite)

Key positional battle: Reuben Garrick wants to move into the centres, but I cannot see it happening until Jason Saab (who would then replace Garrick on the wing) is fit and available for selection. The forward pack is largely settled. Karl Lawton would probably come straight onto the bench when fit leaving Turbo Jr in a three-way battle with Ben Condon and Ethan Bullemor for the final spot on the bench.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: He’s undeniably cheap, and when fit is possibly the best player in rugby league (and SuperCoach) but a fresh hamstring injury has seen Tom Trbojevic jet off to the USA to do work with hamstring whisperer Bill Knowles and there’s no way I’d be risking bringing him into my team until we have a decent chance to see how his leg holds up. So it’s to a cheapie in Josh Schuster that I go. Injury meant Schuster did not start 2022 until round eight, and to be frank he did not look in NRL shape when he did take the field. Reduced to playing bit part roles off the interchange, Schuster had a forgettable year. He has, stop me now, been training the house down, according to reports, and so I’m expecting to see a leaner specimen in 2023. Schuster will also have the role he covets which is as a starting five-eighth rather than second rower as the club gives him first shot at replacing Kieran Foran. Don’t expect Foran-esque playmaking ability but ideally we get a big-bodied half who does plenty of defence and busts plenty of tackles and with deft hands racks up a few linebreak and try assists along the way. All for not much more than a bottom-dollar cheapie. Do it.


Predicted round one team: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Tariq Sims 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King

Bench: 14. Tyran Wishart 15. Tui Kamikamica 16. Alec MacDonald 17. Trent Loiero

Casualty ward: All expected to be available for selection by round one with Reimis Smith and Christian Welch all having overcome long-term injuries. There is still some doubt over Ryan Papenhuyzen, who just returned from rehab in the United States and is yet to resume running at full speed. Papenhuyzen says the best indication he can give is that he’ll be back ‘at some point this year’.

Key positional battle: With Ryan Papenhuyzen still no guarantee for Round One, we could see either Cameron Munster or Nick Meaney start the season at the back. The return of Smith does wonders for the look of Melbourne’s backline. Welch played just one game in 2022 and his return helps to offset the loss of the Bromwich brothers and Felise Kaufusi. I am tipping new recruits Tariq Sims and Eliesa Katoa to win starts but it would not shock to see Trent Loiero hold out Katoa while it’s also possible that Asofa-Solomona is used on an edge terrorising would be defenders (a tactic which worked for both he and Tui Kamikamica at times last year).

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: Cameron Munster had a superb year last year averaging almost 7PPG better than the next best five-eighth (Dylan Brown of the Eels). The Storm star has a career average of 71.5 against his Round 1-8 opponents and averaged 81 points against them from 11 meetings in 2022 (including four triple figure scores). Munster doesn’t come cheap at a snip under $850K, but no player is as ‘set and forget’ at his position and if you’re taking chances elsewhere then his reliable high scores will help with the heartburn.


Predicted round one team: 1. Lachlan Miller 2. Greg Marzhew 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Dom Young 6. Kalyn Ponga 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 13. Adam Elliott

Bench: 14. Kurt Mann 15. Leo Thompson 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Lachlan Fitzgibbon

Casualty ward: Kalyn Ponga (Calf, TBC), Mat Croker (Suspension, Rd 3)

Key positional battle: The Knights have not confirmed the signing of Lachie Miller at the time of writing, but they are tipped to land the Shark soon. His signing allows Kalyn Ponga to move into five-eighth – provided he is healthy, if not new recruit Tyson Gamble will deputise. Fellow new recruit Greg Marzhew should nail down one wing spot forming a powerful combination with fellow winger Dom Young for when it comes time to bring the ball back from a kick.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: It’s hard going to find much at the Knights to get excited by. Ponga is an undoubted talent, and he’s cheap, but his pre-season calf injury and switch of positions to five-eighth are major red flags for me. That leaves young outside back Krystian Mapapalangi. The former South Sydney junior is a serious talent, if he jags a starting spot in round one he’ll be hard to leave out.


Predicted round one team: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Reuben Cotter 11. Coen Hess 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Jason Taumalolo

Bench: 14. Jake Granville 15. James Tamou 16. Mitchell Dunn 17. Griffin Neame

Casualty ward: Heilum Luki (Knee, Rd 4), Luciano Leilua (Stood down, Indefinite)

Key positional battle: None really. Expect Heilum Luki to come in for Coen Hess when available with Mitch Dunn the player to make way. Speaking of Dunn he is expected to be available for selection come round one but if not (he is coming back from an ACL injury) then former Dragon Jack Gosiewski is the likely player to take his spot. Tom Chester is a talented youngster who has been training in the centres for the Cowboys and may make the team as an impact bench player. Coen Hess has confirmed he’ll be switching back to the back-row, after the return of Tamou.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: Fullback Scott Drinkwater produced the fourth best average of any player available at fullback in 2023 in a breakout year. His early ownership rate is far lower than the likes of Latrell Mitchell or James Tedesco, but the Cowboys have a verrrrry favourable early draw and Drinkwater is a good chance to produce more points than either over the opening two months at a significantly lower price point. Further, unlike Tedesco and fellow fullback favourite Tom Trbojevic, Drinkwater does not have a bye in the opening eight weeks. If there is a knock it is that Drinkwater is yet to put together a season where he averages better than 60/60 (60 points in 60% of games) but this year certainly feels like it will be the year he does that.


Predicted round oneteam: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Luke Garner 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo

Bench: 14. Soni Luke 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Tyrone Peachey

Casualty ward: Taylan May (Suspension, Rd 3)

Key positional battle: The departure of Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau leaves two starting roles unfilled for the premiers. Mitch Kenny likely starts at hooker with Soni Luke to come in once some of the starch has been taken out of the game. Luke Garner would appear to have the lead in the race to replace Kikau though it would not shock me if the underrated Scott Sorensen won that battle. Taylan May’s suspension gives Sunia Turuva a chance to build on the three games (two bench and one start) that he got for the Panthers late in 2022. May will slot straight back in when available though. That final bench spot is no lock for Tyrone Peachey, not with Jaeman ‘Junkyard Dog’ Salmon sniffing around.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: No doubt we’ll all have plenty of Panthers in our squads by the end of the season, but outside of likely cheapie options ala Spencer Leniu or the hooking combo of Mitch Kenny/Soni Luke I’m not sure I can see the case for too many early in 2023. Nathan Cleary might be the exception I suppose. Despite injuries and an interrupted preparation Cleary still averaged 80PPG in 2022 and while the early bye hurts, his main contender for ultra-premium HFB Nicho Hynes from the Sharks has a round six bye so that evens things out. New recruit Garner has appeal at his price if he wins the starting spot and Brian To’o is one I’ll be watching closely after injuries limited him at stages in 2022.


Predicted round one team: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mikaele Ravalawa 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mat Feagai 6. Moses Mbye 7. Ben Hunt 8. Zane Musgrove 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Jack Bird 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack de Belin

Bench: 14. Aaron Woods 15. Ben Murdoch-Masila 16. Tyrell Fuimaono 17. Josh Kerr

Casualty ward: Francis Molo (Suspended, Rd 3), Cody Ramsey (Illness, season), Jayden Sullivan (Hamstring, indefinite)

Key positional battle: With Cody Ramsey out for the season due to illness the fullback job appears to be Tyrell Sloan’s to lose. Talatau Amone will be available for selection after being stood down. We had pencilled in Jayden Sullivan at five-eighth, but his recent hamstring injury now has Moses Mbye there and no utility on the bench. Jack Bird can also cover five-eighth.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: Just the one Dragon in Sloan interests me and – that’s conditional on him winning the fullback role. Even then the interest is largely thanks to Sloan being available for just $298,600 rather than any great confidence that he would be someone I would slot into my scoring 17 with great confidence.


Predicted round one team: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Izaac Thompson 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Hame Sele 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray

Bench: 14. Blake Taaffe, 15. Siliva Havili 16. Tom Burgess 17. Davvy Moale

Casualty ward: Taane Milne (Suspension, Rd 2), Liam Knight (Knee, indefinite)

Key positional battle: Taane Milne has opened the door for Izaac Thompson to nab his spot on the right wing, a strong Rd 1 showing may make it hard for Milne to slot back in after serving his suspension. Rather than a battle between Blake Taaffe and Siliva Havili for the utility bench spot I believe they can both fit into the squad with Havili proving he can do a quality job in the middle. That leaves Davvy Moale battling the likes of Jacob Host and Daniel Suluka-Fifita for the final spot on the bench, a battle I believe he leads.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: A brutal early draw has me shy about forking out $890K for Latrell Mitchell and there are no cheapies I adore so it’s Cam Murray who makes most appeal for me. Murray’s appetite for defensive work makes him an incredibly safe premium 2RF. In the past four seasons he has exceeded 60 points in 70%, 60%, 59% and 70% of games. With around 50PPG of pure base locked in each week to which you can add another 10 or so in power/evasion Murray is sure to give you keeper scores even with tough opposition and should not lose too much money as he helps the Rabbitohs navigate the tough early draw.


Predicted round one team: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Joseph Suaalii 4. Joey Manu 5. Paul Momirovski 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Matt Lodge 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Angus Crichton 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Drew Hutchison, 15. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 16. Egan Butcher 17. Fletcher Baker

Casualty ward: Connor Watson (Knee, indefinite), Billy Smith (Knee, indefinite), Sitili Tupouniua (Knee, indefinite)

Key positional battle: The return of Sitili Tupouniua and Billy Smith (both of whom were moving pretty smoothly at training in early January I must note) will put pressure on Nat Butcher and Paul Momirovski. Elsewhere a pretty settled side. Terrell May is pushing Fletcher Baker for the last spot on the bench and a standout from training has been young Siua Wong.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: While I will almost certainly pick James Tedesco to start the year, and have/am flirting with the likes of Sam Walker and Angus Crichton too, the only Rooster who was locked into my team before I began SOS analysis and will stay regardless of the toughish start to the year is Brandon Smith. Priced under $500K and pretty much locked in for as many minutes as he can handle directing an all-star backline Smith represents terrific value. A must.


Predicted round one team: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Rocco Berry 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Luke Metcalf 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Tohu Harris 11. Marata Niukore 12. Mitch Barnett 13. Josh Curran

Bench: 14. Dylan Walker 15. Bayley Sironen 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Jackson Ford

Casualty ward: Jazz Tevaga is aiming for a return in round two to three, after having shoulder and foot surgery at the end of last year.

Key positional battle: The fullback/five-eighth battles are far from over. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad may be the club’s best option at fullback but the best combination may be if CNK plays centre leaving fullback for Te Maire Martin. Of course that’s only if Martin does not nab the five-eighth spot from Luke Metcalf. More questions than answers at the moment i’m afraid, but that’s to be expected in a club which has so many comings and goings this year, including a new coach. With Tevaga in set to miss the early rounds there are bench spots up for grabs, with Sironen and Ford the most likely candidates.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: As far as cheapies go both Nicoll-Klokstad (whether it be at centre or fullback) and Metcalf (should he jag a start in the halves) both have plenty of appeal with CNK my favoured of the two. But that draw has me looking for some safety elsewhere and so I settle on Tohu Harris. The big man’s 2022 season did not begin until round 10 due to an ACL injury suffered in round 18 of 2021 and while he acquitted himself well on return (playing around 65-70 minutes alternating between edge and lock) he really hit his straps when he moved into the front row rotation for the final eight games of the year. Harris averaged 65PPG while playing big minutes. With a full pre-season under his belt and handy dual-position eligibility, Harris is a legit option to anchor your FRF.


Predicted round one team: 1. Daine Laurie 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Tommy Talau 4. Brent Naden 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Adam Doueihi 7. Luke Brooks 8. David Klemmer 9. Api Koroisau 10. Stefano Utoikamanu 11. John Bateman 12. Isaiah Papali’I 13. Joe Ofahengaue

Bench: 14. Jake Simpkin 15. Fonua Pole 16. Shawn Blore 17. Alex Twal

Casualty ward: All expected to be available for selection by round one.

Key positional battle: Charlie Staines joined from Penrith and he wants Daine Laurie’s fullback job. Fonua Pole and Stefano Utoikamanu are duking it out to see who nabs a starting job alongside the all-star recruits.

Early KFC SuperCoach winners/losers: Five-eighth Adam Doueihi is the pick here for me. Doueihi’s 2022 did not begin until round 15 due to injury and he did not play in his preferred five-eighth position until round 18. In the eight games where he did play five-eighth, Doueihi averaged a very respectable 72PPG. As mentioned above, the Wests Tigers pack of 2023 should be far superior to the pack Doueihi played behind in 2022 and with that boost I expect him to challenge Munster and Brown for the best average at position. Available for $200K less than Munster I have had the Lebanon international locked into my side since the team picker opened.

Originally published as NRL predicted teams Round 1 2023, Early Mail, how your team will line up

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