With a huge amount of transfers shaking up the NRL for the 2018 season, there are a number of players that have been left out of action in Round 1. These five players all have competition hot on their heels and must make the most of the opportunities they have.
The Parramatta Eels were lucky enough to have Cameron King available as a hooker when Kaysa Pritchard was injured in 2017. Unfortunately for Pritchard, King excelled when given the opportunity and performed far better than expected, meaning he is likely to start the season at number nine.
As Brad Arthur prefers to play with an 80 minute hooker, Pritchard is likely to miss out on the Eel’s season opener altogether. This means King will be under pressure to perform or risk being dropped for Pritchard.
Despite an excellent start to the 2017 season, Tim Lafai’s performance level dropped off towards the end of the season.
Though many Dragons players finished the season poorly, the re-signing of Kurt Mann will put Lafai’s position under threat. Mann is able to play anywhere in the backline but was most often used in the centres in 2017.
Connor Watson will replace another promising young half when he starts the season ahead of Brock Lamb. Despite being highly rated and performing well in a tough 2017 campaign Lamb is set to miss out on the team’s initial 17.
The positive for the Newcastle Knights is that they finally have some competition for positions. If Watson fails to deliver he may be forced to the bench to allow for Lamb to partner with Mitchell Pearce.
Hayne will be given a fresh start at the Eels but will have to perform well or risk losing his spot to one another of the Eels backs. Will Smith in particular ended 2017 well and could put pressure on Hayne to play well, as could Clint Gutherson when he returns.
With both Benji Marshall and Tui Lolohea unlikely to make the sides starting 13, Brooks will need to start the season positively to retain his position at halfback. Marshall showed signs of excellence in 2017 and Lolohea could be a long term option in the halves, so Brooks has no choice but to play at his best.