JT’s Succinct NRL Tips: Round 1, 2023

So this it folks, the 17-team era of the NRL is ready to ignite with the arrival of the Redcliffe Dolphins, led by WAYNE, and that means we’ll have the first season with weekly byes since 2002-2006, the years between the readmission of Souths and just before the admission of the Gold Coast Titans to make it an even 16 teams.

Unlike every expansion team of the NRL era, which have all had their identities built in board rooms, Redcliffe have their 75 years of history in the Brisbane first grade competition, filled with plenty of success, which in effect makes them the first established club to enter First Grade since Cronulla and Penrith were invited up from the old metro Second Division to start play in 1967.

Of course, Round 1 sees some compelling games on paper:

Parramatta and Melbourne to kick off 2023 on Thursday night, and the Eels off a Grand Final appearance are, in my view, the greatest threat to Melbourne’s Round 1 winning streak that dates back all the way back to 2001, before Craig Bellamy had even set foot in Olympic Park.

Despite recent events such as Taylan May’s ACL tear, Penrith will celebrate yet another premiership in front of the Mountain folk against the Brisbane Broncos, who have had an off-season full of scandal and poachings from Redcliffe.

The clash of the new coaches on Sunday, as Anthony Seibold returns from the rugbaleeg wilderness to coach Manly in the place of Des Hasler, and Cameron Ciraldo takes charge of Canterbury-Bankstown, who will be hoping this former Penrith assistant turns out to be the right one.

The Cowboys vs the Raiders in tropical Townsville, a very tough game for the Raiders, given that anyone living permanently in Canberra develops an aversion to weather above 25 degrees, especially at this time of year.

The Saturday Night slugfest between Cronulla and Souths in a rematch of the brutal Semi Final that comfortably went the way of Souths to send the Sharks out in straight sets, a game that promises a good amount of violence in the grandstands, especially if Scott Morrison makes a cameo appearance.

Redcliffe’s NRL debut comes against the Eastern Suburbs Roosters on a Sunday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium, which brings back memories to when the Gold Coast Titans made their NRL debut against St George-Illawarra at Suncorp on a Sunday afternoon in 2007… It’ll probably end the same way for the Queenslanders.

And the final game of the opening weekend sees Premiership coach Tim Sheens making his return to coaching at the helm of a wooden spoon laden Wests Tigers team as he paves the way for Benji Marshall’s ascent in 2025, against a Gold Coast Titans team who really need to pull the finger out after a big step back in 2022, with the game set to take place at the Eighth Wonder of the World, now complete with railings that won’t kill you.

And then there’s the Warriors vs Knights on a Friday night.

Now, here are my Succinct Tips for the opening weekend of the season:

And now, the Round 1 LOCK OF THE WEEK….


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