The release of Blake Green to the Warriors with no top-line replacement coming in has opened up a halves spot for Lachie Croker or Jackson Hastings to partner Daly Cherry-Evans at the Sea Eagles in 2018.
Back-rower Joel Thompson has joined the club from the St George Illawarra Dragons but the team otherwise looks largely similar to the 2017 iteration.
Dylan Walker is racing the clock to be fit for round one due to shoulder surgery with Matthew Wright likely to be promoted to the starting side if Walker can't be ready for the kick-off to the season.
NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:
"For Trent Barrett, he's seen the blueprint that works for Manly which is having Cherry-Evans play that six role where he can run around and play on the ball and get the ball when he wants it and having the guy alongside him who can control and kick. Croker is going to be important towards that.
"He'll be the starting six. Jackson Hastings I don't think has quite worked out where his best position is, whether it's fullback, halves or hooker but he'll definitely keep the pressure on.
"They got the best out of Sironen and Winterstein last year, it will come down to whether they can get the best out of them again."
NRL.com's predicted Round 1 team:
1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Matt Wright, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Aku Uate, 6 Lachie Croker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans, 8 Marty Taupau, 9 Api Koroisau, 10 Addin Fonua-Blake, 11 Curtis Sironen, 12 Joel Thompson, 13 Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14 Lewis Brown, 15 Lloyd Perrett, 16 Jack Gosiewski, 17 Frank Winterstein. Reserves: 18 Shaun Lane, 19 Jackson Hastings, 20 Kelepi Tanginoa, 21 Tom Wright