Each week we present Power Rankings based on wins, margins, quality of opposition and weight of expectation. These will officially once again start after the completion of round one.
Below we have ranked each team in order of who we believe will start the season well. These take into account strength of roster, pre-season form, injury status and overall club strength.
These are just for fun and carry no weight. Please let us know below who you believe will start the season with a bang.
1. Sydney Roosters
No team in the competition is better placed to hit the ground running than the Premiers. Not only is their roster supremely talented, they've just played the Wigan Warriors off the park in their first hit out of the year. Keep in mind that they had a 24 hour trip and played a Wigan side almost a month into their season proper. Angus Crichton makes them every stronger. They've managed to stay away from all of the off-season craziness. Ran Hall aside they look at full strength.
2. South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bunnies look the most likely to challenge the Roosters for early season dominance. They just beat the Dragons in the Charity Shield sans Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis. They're at full strength for their round one clash with the old enemy. Sam Burgess has shifted wide to allow Cameron Murray to play lock. Look to Campbell Graham to be a break out star of 2019. Wayne Bennett's signing is huge. Cody Walker may be the most exciting player in the competition to watch.
3. Brisbane Broncos
I'm not 100% sure what it is but I like the look of the Broncos and expect them to start the season on fire. They came back to beat the Titans over the weekend which should provide some confidence. This roster is stacked with talent even though they'll be without the suspended Haas for the opening fortnight. Anthony Milford's slow burn pre-season does worry me but I'm sure he and Seibold have everything set. Jack Bird looks in far better shape than in 2018 and should take Brisbane to the next level.
4. Cronulla Sharks
The Sharks have had a horror off-season in terms of distractions but have put everything behind them with two very impressive trial wins. The results don't overly matter but the combination of Moylan, Johnson and Townsend looks to be humming under new coach John Morris. Briton Nikora played well against the Knights and looks to be leading the chase for Wade Graham's jersey for the opening two months. Andrew Fifita has put in two huge shifts. Pending an Ava move to England, the Sharks are set and look well balanced.
5. Melbourne Storm
The Storm enter the 2019 season on the back of two pre-season losses. The results won't worry Craig Bellamy or Storm fans but a serious injury to Scott Drinkwater will. The Storm have two weeks to work on new combinations now that the young fullback looks to have suffered a torn pectoral muscle. Josh Addo Carr looks bigger and maybe even faster than last year and was unstoppable in the All-Star game. They do have the unwanted distraction of a salary cap issue before round one but otherwise look good to go.
6. Penrith Panthers
The Panthers dropped a worrying game to the Eels over the weekend after failing to score a point. Not a huge issue but the combinations didn't fire against an unfancied side. That loss aside the Panthers look ready for a huge start to the season. They're pretty much fully fit and a slight distraction of a lewd video aside have stayed out of the spotlight. Ivan Cleary has a full pre-season with his squad under his belt. The only real question they have is who runs on in the nine jersey. Not bad all things considered.
7. North Queensland Cowboys
The Cowboys have moved up the pecking order after recovering very quickly and very well from the Barba incident. A month ago I had written them off but the signing of Kahu and the first up performance by their forward pack has me confident they'll start well. The squad is fully fit and looks settled now that Kahu has settled in at fullback. I'm really impressed with how they handled the Barba media fire. I'd be looking over my shoulder if my club had the Cows early on.
8. St George Illawarra Dragons
The Dragos have had a horror pre-season for obvious reasons. Until Thursday they had plans of de Belin starting in round one but now face a 2019 season without their Origin forward. Tyson Frizell has been forced to shift into lock with either a new recruit or a promoted player playing out wide. Their loss to the Bunnies in the Charity Shield is hardly alarm bells but they were outplayed. I don't like the five into four situation with Norman, Widdop, Hunt, McInnes and Dufty. They need to sort that. That said the Dragons usually start well.
9. Newcastle Knights
Luckily for the Knights pre-season games don't count for much as they were poor against the Sharks in Maitland. That said the Knights have a ripper squad and I would be shocked if they don't start well. A lot will depend on how Ponga settles in as he was indifferent in the All-Star game and then again in the trial. I wouldn't worry too much as this kid is a freak. David Klemmer looked like a monster and played well in an another wise well beaten pack. Have SKD to return but otherwise look full strength.
10. Canberra Raiders
I don't have a read on the Raiders. I'm struggling badly here. They could finish top four, they may finish last. Who knows? Pre-season has provided no help despite their winning two trials. Their first game was a NSW Cup side and their second trial win was a come back win when the reserves were dominant. Jack Whighton has looked good by most reports in the six, that's huge. Their huge forward pack are key and they look fit. I think they're better placed than last year as a result. Should start well.
11. New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors have impressed big time across their two trials. They beat the Tigers over the weekend and look well positioned to start the season. RTS is a megastar and could step up again as one of the game's very elite in 2019. They look fit and they look big. Kearny had them firing in 2018 and they look to build on that this year. The loss of Johnson is just too much to predict them finishing top eight but they should start well. Those two wingers are try scoring freaks as shown again in the trial. Exciting.
12. Canterbury Bulldogs
The Dogs look better now than they seemed a month ago. That may sound strange but trial performances and Dean Pay's upcoming deal extension give off an aura of stability. I'm shocked that Reece Martin will start the season in reserve grade but it does show the strength of the forward pack. By all reports Foran is looking good which makes me happy to hear. Across 20+ rounds I see the Dogs falling away but they've had a good pre-season.
13. Gold Coast Titans
The Titans players performed very well in the All-Star game but their loss to the Broncos seems to have grounded expectations somewhat. They've had a very regular pre-season in that they've not been caught up in the off-season from hell other than one Bryce Cartwright article. The Titans are now distraction-free and almost at full strength. We still don't know where Brimson and Peachy will play though and that worries me a little.
14. Parramatta Eels
The Eels absolutely tore the Panthers apart, even holding them scoreless, on Saturday night. I wouldn't look too much into that as by all reports the Panthers seemed more interested in giving away penalties than playing footy. Parra have the opportunity to shock pundits and fans alike early on but come up against some tough opposition. Reed Mahoney is in contention for break out star of the season. Had minimal distractions by all accounts. Ferguson is fully fit after his mishap.
15. Wests Tigers
I'm not super confident in the Tigers heading into the season. Their pre-season form has been dire and I have no idea how they're going to line up in round one in the halves. That said, that's exactly how I felt last season and they won something ridiculous like six of their opening seven games, so don't pay too much attention. That said their forward pack does not match up with early season opponents and they need Josh Reynolds to catch fire in terms of form.
16. Manly Sea Eagles
On paper, the Sea Eagles just beat the Roosters in their last trial. That said they beat the Bears NSW cup side + Crichton. Tommy Turbo's injury is a huge worry. Hopefully, he'll be back by round two or three. They lost a trial in the Shire with a full strength side for 50+ minutes to a Jets side. Don't worry about the results but injuries to Turbo and Parker have further depleted already thin stocks across the back line. Everything comes down to DCE. Kane Elgey looks set to start the season in NSW Cup. Craziness.