NRL.com Daily Blog: Broncos reshuffle

NRL.com Daily Blog: Broncos reshuffle

Welcome to the opening week of the Telstra Premiership season for 2018, where we're kicking things off on NRL.com with the first of our daily blogs.

Keep an eye on this page for the latest breaking news, videos and more throughout the day.

Refresh this page for the latest updates.

6.46pm AEDT: Johnathan Thurston won't just reach the 300-game milestone this week. He will also surpass a record held by his great friend Matt Bowen.

6.15pm AEDT: NRL.com reporter Hayley Byrnes has taken her weekly look at the weird and wonderful world that Telstra Premiership players get up to on social media. Click here for the best of the last seven days.

5:24pm AEDT: To achieve legendary status at a rugby league club and to be revered by your peers, the club’s fans and many other figures in the game, you did something right. Steve Folkes did just that.

With news of his sudden death coming as a shock to many, the funeral service for the Canterbury great was held today as former team-mates and players under his coaching tutelage spoke about the man that they knew and the impact he had on them.

Peter Mortimer, a team-mate of Folkes during their successful premiership-winning campaigns in the eighties, could see just what sort of player Folkes would become and how hard he would work to get himself into first-grade and to stay there.

“He had legal supplements to build up his weight and he developed his tackling technique to perfection and won that back-row spot.

“He had safe hands, was fantastic on his feet and had great anticipation."

5.20pm AEDT: NRL.com expert Jamie Soward has delivered his first Power Rankings for the 2018 season. Where does your club fit in?

3.10pm AEDT: The funeral service of Steve Folkes at Belmore Sports Ground is currently being live streamed at bulldogs.com.au.

3.05pm AEDT: Playing NRL Fantasy? Get the edge on your mates with this guide to the 10 most popular guns at the start of the 2018 season, from NRL.com's Lone Scout.

2.40pm AEDT: Billy Slater has been ruled out of Melbourne's round one clash with the Bulldogs

1.35pm AEDT: Time for a bit of science: hear from star Roosters forwards Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves about what's involved in the stem cell knee surgery they've both undergone.

1.10pm AEDT: Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans says he is keen to see his old mate from Mackay Ben Barba back in the NRL, writes Margie McDonald.

12.45pm AEDT: Andrew McCullough is set to be eased back from his knee injury via the bench for the Broncos this week, meaning veteran forward Sam Thaiday will be the man to start in the No.9 as he did on a few occasions in late 2017. Joel Gould has got the reaction from Thaiday's Broncos teammates.

12.30pm AEDT: The funeral service for the late Steve Folkes will be held at 3pm (AEDT) today at Belmore Sportsground and is open to the public, and will also be streamed live via the Bulldogs website here.

12.20pm AEDT: It's a good week to be a footy fan in Perth.

12pm AEDT: The Sydney Roosters may have a couple of new superstars in their ranks but it's come at the cost of their depth, and that's the big question mark over their premiership credentials in 2018 according to Brad Walter in today's Winning Starts Monday column.

11.30am AEDT: We are one day away from the first Team List Tuesday of the season, but for an early guide to how all 16 sides could look this weekend check out our predicted round one line-ups.

11.00am AEDT: Good news and bad news for the Wests Tigers in today's Stat Attack article. The bad news? They conceded the most run metres of any team in 2017. The good? They've overhauled their forward pack for 2018. Full story here

10.45am AEDT: The NRL captains have had their say on the most underrated players in the game today. See their answers below.

10am AEDT: Who is your club's goal-kicker, and just how good are they? We've crunched the numbers and ranked all clubs, best to worst.

9.45am AEDT: Our man Chris Kennedy is at the Roosters this morning and talked to skipper Boyd Cordner about the rumoured arrival of former Raiders hooker Kurt Baptiste at the club.

"He's an awesome player. I think I heard the Raiders didn't really want to let him go but for salary cap reasons they had to," Cordner said. "I've always had a massive rap on Kurt, the way he plays. He's going to be a massive addition for us."

9.30am AEDT: If you haven't seen the NRL's new commercial for 2018, here it is:

9.10am AEDT: Melbourne Storm greats Marcus Bai, Glenn Lazarus and Tawera Nikau have spoken at the announcement of the club's best 17 of the past two decades about why the Storm have been so successful for so long and whether they can win back-to-back titles in 2018. (No prizes for guessing their answer to that one.)

8.50am AEDT: If you're playing NRL Fantasy this year (and you should be) the easiest way to get ahead of the competition is to grab the right 'cash cows' at the start of the season. Here is NRL.com's Fantasy guru the Lone Scout with his take on the 10 most popular value buys so far.

8.20am AEDT: The North Queensland Cowboys are getting a lot of hype at the start of the new season and it's not just because of a fit-again Johnathan Thurston. Their forward pack may be the best in the league after the arrival of Jordan McLean and their big men will attract plenty of defenders if last year's stats are anything to go by. Here's a full breakdown of why they will be a handful in 2018.

8.00am AEDT: SIGNINGS NEWS - Former Canberra Raiders hooker Kurt Baptiste has been released from his Super League contract with Leigh Centurions, with reports in the UK media that he will return to the NRL to join the Sydney Roosters. 

7.50am AEDT: The Brisbane Broncos will kick off the new season against the St George Illawarra Dragons at Jubilee Oval on Thursday night, and two of their biggest stars Darius Boyd and Anthony Milford say they are not only driven by last year's finals exit but also the memories of their thrilling 2015 grand final loss to the North Queensland Cowboys. "I don't know if I can let it go. I try to, but it just keeps coming back," Milford says.

7.30am AEDT: It's not just NRL.com staff making predictions for 2018, with club captains and representatives at last week's season launch having their say on which recruit will make the biggest impact at a new club this year. See their answers below.

7.20am AEDT: With the new season almost upon us we in the NRL.com team have made our fearless predictions for how the top eight will line up come finals time. Check out all our takes here, with the Warriors getting a surprising amount of support to snap their six-year finals drought. If you combine all our votes our predicted top eight is...

7.10am AEDT: Sharks skipper Paul Gallen has had plenty to say ahead of the start of the new season, calling for a more fair system for third party agreements (TPAs) while also calling for Broncos recruit Matthew Lodge to pay compensation to his victims over an incident in New York in 2015.

7am AEDT: First up today is former Rooster and one of Newcastle's key recruits Aidan Guerra, saying the time for talk is over for the Knights as they prepare for their season opener against Manly. "You sort of get sick of tackling your own teammates," he says.

The new season isn't far away now...