The 2022 NRL season finally gets underway on Thursday night as the reigning premiers, the Penrith Panthers, take on the Manly Sea Eagles from Penrith Stadium at 8.05pm! Greg Davis will be back this season for every Thursday night clash, giving his full preview and betting tips for the round opening games.
Remember, we will be providing betting tips for every game in the 2022 season, so be sure to check out our NRL Tips page for regular updates as well as the NRL Round 1 promos for the latest offers.
Panthers vs Sea Eagles Betting Tips
Penrith Stadium, Thursday 10th March, 8.05pm (AEDT)
1. Dylan Edwards 2. Charlie Staines 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To'o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Sean O'Sullivan 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo. INTERCHANGE: 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Matthew Eisenhuth. RESERVES: 18. Chris Smith 19. J'maine Hopgood 20. Jaeman Salmon 21. Taylan May 22. Kurt Falls 23. Soni Luke 24. Robert Jennings
1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Toafofoa Sipley 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Martin Taupau 11. Haumole Olakau'atu 12. Ethan Bullemor 13. Jake Trbojevic. INTERCHANGE: 14. Tolutau Koula 15. Karl Lawton 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka. RESERVES: 18. Morgan Boyle 19. Andrew Davey 20. Christian Tuipulotu 21. Jorge Taufua 22. Alex Tuitavake 23. Kaeo Weeks 24. James Roumanos
ONLY truly great teams go back-to-back at the top level of rugby league.
The Brisbane Bronocs (1992-93 and 1997-98), Sydney Roosters (2018-19), Canberra Raiders (1989-90), Canterbury Bulldogs (1984-85) and the Parramatta Eels did the hat-trick (1981-83).
What’s the one thing all those teams had in common?
They all had a great halfback.
The Broncos had the legendary Alfie Langer pulling the strings, Cooper Cronk was the no.7 for the Roosters, Ricky Stuart was the playmaker for the Green Machine, Steve Mortimer was the architect of the Bulldogs’ success and the great Peter Sterling was the brains of the Eels’ operation.
Penrith start their bid to join these great teams on Thursday night when they host Manly but the Panthers will be without their star halfback Nathan Cleary who is close to completing his comeback from off-season shoulder surgery.
Cleary will miss at least the first three weeks of Penrith’s premiership defence despite speculation he could be a shock starter in Round 1.
The premiers have taken a conservative approach with their gun no. 7 – and so they should - because any re-injuring of the shoulder and more time on the sideline would spell the end of their title hopes.
Take a champion halfback out of any side, and it will struggle. Penrith are not Robinson Crusoe in that regard.
So, Penrith are very vulnerable in this season-opener. Very.
Especially so given they will also be missing Kurt Capewell (Broncos), Matt Burton (Bulldogs) and Paul Momirovski (Roosters) from their starting side in last year’s grand final. Utility back Tyrone May (Catalans Dragons) and Tevita Pangai Jnr (Bulldogs) are also elsewhere in 2022.
The enviable depth at the foot of the Blue Mountains means Origin forward Liam Martin moves from the bench to the starting side, grand final hero Stephen Crighton moves from the wing to the centres and Charlie Staines goes onto a wing with former Penrith junior Sean O’Sullivan deputising as halfback.
Without Cleary, the Panthers got pumped by Parramatta to the tune of 36-0 in their last pre-season trial.
The absence of his general play kicking, leadership, organisational skills, decision making and goalkicking will leave a giant void in the Panthers side that does have a host of last year’s grand final squad available.
O’Sullivan is an honest toiler but he is no Cleary.
Penrith have beaten Manly the last four times the teams have met but Cleary has been a major part of that streak.
The Sea Eagles got off to a horribly sluggish start in 2021 without fullback Tom Trbojevic before flying home with a wet sail to finish one game short of the grand final while their try-scoring and try-assisting machine collected the Dally M Medal for a scintillating back-half of the season.
Turbo will be in the no.1 jumper in Round 1 and Manly are an infinitely better team with him on the paddock.
That’s what this clash comes down to – the superstars.
Manly have theirs, Penrith don’t.
So, the Sea Eagles should win, but not by much.
Prop Bet: Tom Trbojevic First Try ($7.50 at Sportsbet)