After a busy offseason full of player movements, coach movements and constant drama, there are many storylines to keep track of for rugby league fans as we gear up for season 2019.
Here are five intriguing storylines to watch as the 2019 NRL season unfolds.
Seibold vs Bennett
Brisbane and South Sydney do not face off until Round 8 this season but all eyes will be on coaches Anthony Seibold and Wayne Bennett all season to see which one fairs better at their new clubs.
The high profile swap of both coaches was this offseasons storyline and left many wondering when the dragged out saga would end.
Only time will tell on who comes out on top in this matchup with both teams expecting top 4 finishes after strong years in 2018. Brisbane and South Sydney will also meet each other at Suncorp Stadium for a round 23 clash.
Can the Cowboys step up and cover the loss of Jonathan Thurston?
Jonathan Thurston’s departure from the game has left a huge hole in a Cowboy’s line up that was always competitive until a 13th place finish last season.
The main positive in this situation is that Michael Morgan will be back healthy this season and looking to replicate his form from 2017 when he led the club to the Grand Final without Thurston.
The Cowboys will also get a boost in the toughness department with the signing of Josh McGuire from the Broncos and of course, Jason Taumololo is still there to eat up meters week in week out.
The time is now for the Knights
Knights fans again have reason to be excited heading into season 2019. The main reason, Kalyn Ponga, who is moving into the halves to partner with former Roosters premiership winner Mitchell Pearce.
Ponga, who turns 21 this season is widely expected to again challenge for the Dally M medal, and this type of form is needed if the Knights are looking to make a finals push.
Newcastle spent big money to secure the services of former Bulldog David Klemmer and also a lot of under the radar signings including former Storm and Queensland Maroon Tim Glasby and Dragons utility Kurt Mann.
Des’ return to Manly
Des Halser is back on the beaches of Manly to again take control of the Sea Eagles, the team he led to premierships in 2008 and 2011 before leaving for the Bulldogs.
Hasler’s exit was said to have been a little ugly but bridges must have been repaired if those in charge of the Sea Eagles are allowing Hasler to return to where he made his name as one of the best coaches in the NRL.
Hasler along with stars Daly Cherry-Evans and the Trbojevic brothers will look to steer the Sea Eagles back into finals conversation after a season in which the wooden spoon was only narrowly avoided.
State of Origin
Queensland vs New South Wales will again dominate headlines in the weeks leading up to Game 1 on June 5.
The rivalry between both states is as healthy and as fierce as ever with QLD’s dynasty all but over as NSW are looking to go back to back for the first time since completing a three-peat from 2003-05.
NSW will most likely field a similar side to 2018’s winning team, and QLD will have to rely on the development of whichever young halves they choose to lead the team this year.