Robbie Farah (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
New coach Anthony Siebold has left 272 game veteran out of his team preferring Damien Cook as preferred Hooker. Going against last years trend of carrying 2 specialist hookers Siebold sees having a bench with more variety as better value. Opens the door for further rumour that Farah may be heading to the Raiders.
Sam Williams (Canberra Raider)
Coach Ricky Stuart has shown his hand that a repeat of last years poor showing will not be tolerated and anyone is not safe. Well travelled Williams now in his second stint at the Raiders will wear 7 with Aiden Sezer moving to his more natural 5/8 position. Stuart’s first major changes being Blake Austin one time NSW hopeful and long time favourite Iosia Soliola moving to the bench. A first Up loss may bring further changes
David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers)
The biggest name to be left out of Round 1 would have to be the Tigers long term winger. Seen as many to be a player to ease the loss of Teddy Tedesco in attack Nofoaluma finds himself dumped to the Intrust NSW Cup side the Western Suburbs Magpies. Coach Ivan Cleary is obviously sending a message to his team and player. Be an interesting round 2 if both wingers have good games against the Roosters.
Danny Fualalo (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Danny Fualalo primarily a bench player in 2017 has won the lock spot ahead of Adam Elliott. Elliott was part of the run on side all of 2017 is part of Rookie coach Dean Pay’s changes to the new Dogs of War. If Fualalo can show the same impressive impact as he had as a sub last year he should be able to make the position his own in 2018.
Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers)
The huge man mountain has won the starting berth ahead of 2017 break out star Corey Harawira-Naera. Under pressure coach Anthony Griffin is adding as much size at his disposal to take on the Eels. Kikau was knocking on the door last year and gets his shot to make his mark from round one.
Jeremy Marshall-King (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Benji’s little brother is a shock as the Bulldogs utility on the Bulldogs bench. It was reported last week that Moses Suli leaving the dogs opened the door for Jeremy Marshall-King to added on as the last man on their roster. I’m sure Suli will be getting aa Xmas card from young Jeremy this year. A very different player to Benji, don’t expect to see amazing side steps and flick passes.
Pita Godinet (Wests Tigers)
The one time Warrior and Sea Eagles hooker gets the nod over last seasons starting hooker Matt McIlwrick. Most would have hadMcIlwrick down to continue as hooker going into the season. Either coach Cleary has seen something in Godinet that will improve the Tigers attack or was not happy with McIlwrick’s offseason. Will be one to watch.
Sione Katoa (Cronulla Sharks)
Coach Shaun Flanagan has picked Rookie Katoa to make his debut against last years Grand Finalist the Cowboys in Townsville. A very big test for a young man playing in his first game. Katoa has big wraps on him and is being talked up as an enormous talent. Sharks fans will be watching hoping that he is as good as some are saying.
Danny Levi (Newcastle Knights)
Danny Levi and many of his team mates from last years wooden spoon side have been left out of the opening round in favour of the new recruits. Levi in particular can feel very unhappy about the decision. He and Brock Lamb who himself has been relegated to the bench were standouts in a struggling team. It will be interesting to see how Levi takes his demotion.
Luke Keary (Sydney Roosters)
Although he hasn’t been selected in the 17. The Roosters first choice five-eighth has been named on an extended bench. Given he is recovering from a broken jaw from a training accident in the offseason it was not expected that he would be considered for round 1. Coach Trent Robinson will not risk such a valuable player for a game they should be able to win without him. However, stranger things have happened.