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Andrew Voss says the Round 1 Bulldogs v Panthers clash is not to be missed.

Footy tipping tips, the match of the Round 1, young guns to watch this weekend and why the Dragons were wise to keep Merrin this year.

1) Will 2015 be another nightmare for tipsters?

I won't commit to an answer as I'm actually equal leader in my tipping competition at the moment.

My advice is as follows:

Stay strong punters.

Look fear in the eye.

Don't waiver on your first picks each week.

Don't let the tea lady or office junior beat you.

At no stage resort to alternative methods such as dartboards or picking team names from a hat.

And whatever you do, don't rely on form week to week!

Register for NRL Tipping now and start a competition with your mates!

2) So, what is your top eight prediction for 2015?

I don't know that anyone has successfully forecast what a top eight will be come September any time in the past decade. Maybe longer. Maybe ever!

But having come close last year (I picked the top seven, but had the Warriors in the finals instead of Brisbane), I am supremely confident this is going to be my year.

So here goes. Could you lock these in please, Eddie…

Roosters, Bulldogs, Panthers, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Broncos, Sea Eagles.

I wanted to include the Storm, Eels and Sharks too … but you can only have eight.

3) Which young players will star in Round 1?

Where do I start?

At Canberra Mitch Cornish has been given the chance first up to make the No.7 jumper his own. 

I'll be calling the Raiders v Sharks game for Fox Sports on Sunday night, and I'm as excited about watching Mitch as I am seeing Ben Barba on debut in a Cronulla jumper.

The other match I'll be calling for Fox Sports this weekend is in Newcastle on Saturday. The Warriors have handed debuts to a number of youngsters: Solomone Kata, Sam Lisone and Albert Vete.

Look out for the big prop Vete coming off the bench. This giant has fantastic offloading skills that, if encouraged, will bring an extra dynamic to the Warriors team. Albert hasn't set the world on fire in the lower grades, but the club knows his potential has been worth persevering with.

The return from injury of Bryce Cartwright at Penrith is one reason I have them so highly rated this season. Despite playing just seven games last year, I can't see Ivan Cleary not finding him a spot every week this season.

There are so many fantastic games scheduled for Round 1, but Pepper Stadium warrants a full house for a must-see clash between the Panthers and the Bulldogs on Sunday.

4) Should the Dragons have let Trent Merrin go for this season?

No, not in my opinion.

This is professional sport. The players are supposed to be professional. He is being paid to do a job for the Dragons this year, and the expectation should be that he'll go about that task as the talented footballer he is, regardless of his movements in 2016.

To disgruntled Dragons fans, and I totally understand their disappointment, would their attitude be any different if Merrin had announced that he wouldn't be at the club next year, but didn't actually sign anywhere? 

The Dragons will be a better side this season for having Merrin as a part of it, so long as he meets his end of the bargain. I have no reason to think he won't.

5) Remember the scheduling of Round 1 last year?

It was a disaster!

So let's give credit where it's due. The NRL has learnt from what was a poor decision in Round 1 last year to have seven games scheduled in Sydney, and in the process overlooking venues like Brisbane and Auckland.

Our 2015 kick-off looks great to me.

Four games in Sydney. Townsville, Brisbane and the Gold Coast all to host games with Newcastle also at home first up.

The NRL flag will be flying high far and wide right from week one this season… and that's the way it should always be to embrace as many regions as possible.

6) Is there a food revolution underway?

Cheaper prices for food at football grounds? 

We can only hope.

If you missed the news earlier this week, the MCG has lowered its food prices for the AFL season this year. Some items will be reduced by 40 percent such as a bottle of water now selling for $3 instead of $5.

Hot dogs that were selling for $6.50, will now be $4.

I say, if lower prices can be achieved at Australia's most famous sporting venue, why not everywhere?

Either way…the footy is back my friends.

Giddy Up!

Twitter: @AndrewVossy

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of the NRL or

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