Penrith Panthers vs Manly Sea Eagles
Thursday 10th March 2022, BlueBet Stadium (8.05pm)
The Panthers start their title defence at home against a Sea Eagles side which is expected to once again be in the mix for finals, or perhaps even rise to higher honours. Manly has stability from last season and it should ensure they’re hard to topple early in the season. For the Panthers, Nathan Cleary (shoulder) will miss the opening three rounds of the season, and naturally, it’s a huge loss to the Panthers’ playmaking. The market has switched to the Sea Eagles late in the week and I think it’s the smart way to go.
Suggested bet: 1u Manly win at $1.90
Canberra Raiders vs Cronulla Sharks
Friday 11th March 2022, GIO Stadium (6pm)
How will the Raiders bounce back from the struggles of 2021? They face a stern test against a Sharks side with renewed hope off the back off key signings such as Nicho Hynes. They’ve shown promise in the pre-season and I’m tipping they’ll be too strong for the Raiders. This is despite the Raiders winning the past six against the Sharks. Both sides have some key omissions, but I like what the Sharks are bringing with Craig Fitzgibbon at the helm.
Suggested bet: 1.5u Sharks win at $1.95
Brisbane Broncos vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday 11th March 2022, Suncorp Stadium (8.05pm)
It’s a new-look Broncos side for season 2022, but they will miss gun recruit Adam Reynolds for the opener. The Rabbitohs will also be without onw of their stars, with Latrell Mitchell out due to the suspension. What originally shaped as a mouth-watering clash has now lost some of its gloss with these two omissions. Off last year’s stats the Rabbits should just win – they won five of their last six matches against Brisbane and outscored their opponents 81-6 in 2021. But there’s something to like about the Broncos this year, and even without Reynolds, I’m wary of betting against them early.
No suggested bet
Sydney Roosters vs Newcastle Knights
Saturday 12th March 2022, Sydney Cricket Ground (3pm)
The Roosters should appreciate getting back to the SCG after playing limited games at the venue last year. Stars Sam Walker and Luke Keary appear all set to play and should bolster a side hit with injury last year. The Roosters will be looking to start the season with a bang to kickstart some early momentum, and their offensive muscle should be too strong for the Knights.
Suggested bet: 1u Roosters -13.5
New Zealand Warriors vs St George Illawarra Dragons
Saturday 12th March 2022, Sunshine Coast Stadium (5.30pm)
One of the more interesting clashes with both sides falling just short of making the finals last year. Unfortunately for the Warriors they start the season again playing on foreign turf as they take on the Dragons at the Sunshine Coast. The Dragons have been tipped as a side set to make major improvement in 2022 with some strong off-season signings. They appear to have the make-up of a solid footy side, but they won’t want to drop an early game against an enigmatic Warriors outfit. You really never know what to expect from the Warriors, and last year I put way too much faith in their perceived ability to be talented enough to beat any side on their day. The Dragons were also very good in the Charity Shield and they should be able to continue their winning start to the official season.
Suggested bet: 1u Dragons win at $1.85
Wests Tigers vs Melbourne Storm
Saturday 12th March 2022, CommBank Stadium (7.35pm)
The Tigers have made some promising signings in the off-season, but it’s been offset with injury and suspension for round one. But how will the Storm respond to losing Josh Addo-Carr, Dale Finucane and Nicho Hynes? While Cameron Munster and Harry Grant are still locked in for the year, they are also unavailable for the opener. It leaves a huge void which will be difficult to replace. However, we’ve learnt to never underestimate the Storm and it’s why they are short-priced favourites here. They also have a point to prove after meekly bowing out of season 2021 in the preliminary finals. But it’s important to note the Tigers have a tendency to come out of the blocks fast when the season commences – and with home ground advantage, I’d be surprised if they weren’t competitive.
Suggested bet: 1.5u Tigers +12.5 at $1.90
Parramatta Eels vs Gold Coast Titans
Sunday 13th March 2022, CommBank Stadium (4.05pm)
The Eels are renowned as fast starters to a season and they should have no trouble accounting for a Titans side I expect to take time to gel. The Eels have also covered the line against the Titans the past five times they’ve met. They are also playing in front of a home crowd at a venue they rarely lose at, and will be looking to continue their impressive trial form.
Suggested bets:2u Eels win at $1.39, 1u Eels -8.5 at $1.90
North Queensland Cowboys vs Canterbury Bulldogs
Sunday 13th March 2022, Queensland Country Bank Stadium (6.15pm)
I like the Cowboys at home here, largely due to the fact I think coach Todd Payten has finally found something closer to the right make-up for season 2022. Whilst the Bulldogs have shopped well in the off-season, they will take some time to gel, which was evident in their trial form. They also have a poor record in Queensland, and a poor record of winning season openers.
Suggested bet: 2u Cowboys win at $1.85