Footy is finally here. We might be three weeks away from the real thing, but trials will give fans their first taste of action for the 2022 season, getting underway this weekend.
It all kicks off on Friday night with a pair of games at Leichhardt, and with every game televised live this year (unlike previous years) it’ll be easier than ever for fans to get answers about their stars, and to get a look at the young guns who will be running around.
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In the grand scheme of things, trials mean nothing to the season itself, but that doesn’t mean certain players won’t be treating the next fortnight as possibly the biggest of their lives with many clubs still confirming their list of top 30 contracted players and development lists for the season ahead.
Most teams have named enormous squads for the opening week of trials, which, in some ways, makes it difficult to know which way to look.
And while a majority of the players on display this weekend will be fringe first graders and youngsters who will be stars of the future, there will still be plenty of storylines that will impact first grade this season.
Here are the storylines which will be worth following this weekend in our first instalment of The Set Restart for 2022.
1. The Titans and Bulldogs new look spines
The Gold Coast Titans and Canterbury Bulldogs could be two of the more exciting teams to watch go around this season, and that is getting underway from the opening week of trials, with both teams just a single player away from what could be considered their “full strength” spine.
At the Titans, the question which has followed them around all season has been "who is going to play at hooker?"
Erin Clark has reportedly had an excellent pre-season and could well be the man to run out for them come Round 1, however, leading light AJ Brimson has previously mentioned Tanah Boyd has been training excellently at hooker.
And that's exactly who is there this weekend.
The excitement is unreal around the Titans though, with Toby Sexton and Jayden Campbell both set to have a run this weekend, while former Warrior Paul Turner, who could push for a spot throughout the season, has also been named.
Just quietly, the Titans and Broncos clash will also see the return of Patrick Carrigan, who missed most of 2021 with an ACL injury.
The attacking excitement machine is on a one-year deal at the Bulldogs and, with the exception of the player option for Kalyn Ponga, is currently the best fullback available on the open market for 2023.
His defence will come under the microscope this year given it's the reason he was let go by the Dragons, but his opening instalment alongside Jake Averillo and Brandon Wakeham, who are battling for a single spot in the halves means there is plenty to keep an eye on at the Bulldogs.