Canberra Raiders centre Jarrod Croker takes on the South Sydney defence.

Canberra's off-season recruitment has been less dramatic than most clubs, with few major differences to a 2017 best-17 expected.

However, the long-term knee injury to hooker Josh Hodgson leaves a huge gap – one that will likely require two players (potentially Siliva Havili and Craig Garvey) to cover.

The returning Sam Williams will keep the pressure on halves Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer, while ex-Warrior Charlie Gubb is very much in the frame for first grade selection.

NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:

"The person under the most pressure this year is Aidan Sezer. They've got a talented roster. Having no Hodgson leaves a big hole but they've got guys that can come in.

"Sam Williams returns and is a chance if playing No.7. The halfback spot for Canberra – you need a controlling halfback to get the best out of Blake Austin and last year they just didn't meet expectations.

"I think Havili will get first crack [at starting hooker] because he's just been in the World Cup and had that little bit of experience playing in the big games. I wouldn't be surprised if Garvey came in on the bench as well and they played a split role like Baptiste and Hodgson did."

NRL.com's predicted Round 1 team:

1 Jack Wighton, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Joey Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Blake Austin, 7 Aidan Sezer, 8 Junior Paulo, 9 Siliva Havili, 10 Shannon Boyd, 11 Josh Papalii, 12 Joseph Tapine, 13 Elliott Whitehead. Interchange: 14 Craig Garvey, 15 Sia Soliola, 16 Charlie Gubb, 17 Luke Bateman. Reserves: 18 Sam Williams, 19 Dunamis Lui, 20 Liam Knight, 21 Brad Abbey