Penrith Panthers 2017 Season in Review
James Maloney's arrival gives Penrith the best balanced and most potent halves combination since Nathan Cleary's stunning emergence while spots in the forward pack are at a premium following Viliame Kikau's incredible World Cup feats. Bryce Cartwright's exit to the Titans is the other big talking point for the Panthers heading into the 2018 campaign.
Matt Moylan's departure hands freshly re-signed youngster Dylan Edwards a mortgage on the No.1 jersey. Breakout star Corey Harawira-Naera is a chance of starting in the back row but expect James Fisher-Harris to assume that spot if off-season shoulder surgery delays Harawira-Naera's season start.
NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:
"They've got so much talent, they're deep as well. Kikau after his World Cup deserves a starting spot in the back row. He has to start. I've got him starting instead of Harawira-Naera.
"They need to get Tyrone Peachey more involved and touching the ball more. He's coming off the bench more often than not and being a utility is a fantastic talent but he needs to be able to touch the ball. The biggest thing for Penrith is they have the talent to get them up there but can they do it consistently for the year.
"They got it right towards the end of last season but they can't be starting 2-7 again."
NRL.com's predicted Round 1 team:
1 Dylan Edwards, 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 3 Dean Whare, 4 Waqa Blake, 5 Josh Mansour, 6 James Maloney 7, Nathan Cleary, 8 James Tamou, 9 Peter Wallace, 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11 James Fisher-Harris, 12 Isaah Yeo, 13 Trent Merrin. Interchange: 14 Viliame Kikau, 15 Tyrone Phillips, 16 Corey Harawira-Naera*, 17 Tyrone Peachey. Reserves: 18 Tim Browne, 19 Moses Leota, 20 Tyrone May, 21 Sione Katoa.
*In doubt for round one with shoulder injury