What can we expect from the NRL in 2018?
You don't need me to tell you how much has changed in the NRL this year.
But it seems like we're heading into not only a new season, but an entirely new competition. I simply do not know what to expect of it.
Sure, we can probably guess Jordan Rapana will score a bunch of tries, Marty Taupau will throw an offload or 73 and Melbourne will probably be successful again, because that's the way it is.
But it's been two days since team lists for Round 1 dropped and I'm still shocked Blake Austin will be on Canberra's bench. It makes sense because he's so versatile and Sam Williams is a great half, but I didn't see it coming.
Silly me assumed David Nofoaluma was a sure-thing for the West Tigers wing, but apparently Ivan Cleary knows something we don't. I know. Baffling, right? Nofoaluma is one of a few World Cup players who will be in reserve grade this week, joining Newcastle's Danny Levi (New Zealand) and Rabbitohs' Robbie Farah (Lebanon) in the Intrust Super Premiership.
But then there's the bigger questions I have heading into the season.
Number one, of course, is with the Knights. They're recruited so heavily and purposefully, they have named nine club debutants to take on Manly, and for the first time since 2015 there will be no players making their NRL debuts.
This week is Nathan Brown's 200th as an NRL coach and word is McDonald Jones Stadium will be packed to the brim with fans hoping he is the man to finally turn their luck around. But, as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. It'll take more than one game to decide if all the change has equalled success, but there's nothing like a good first impression.
Garth Brennan – now there's a good coach. He's been patient, hard-working and seems to have all the man-management skills that the Titans insisted Neil Henry was lacking. But it remains to be seen if his success in the lower grades will translate to wins on the board in the NRL.
The same goes for new Rabbitohs mentor Anthony Seibold. He's highly respected, smart as a whip and is a graduate of The Craig Bellamy Coaching Academy, but Rabbitohs fans are extremely passionate about their club and they won't be satisfied with anything less than a committed, exciting and tough team to support. The same can be said of Dean Pay at the Bulldogs.
I was watching highlights of Greg Inglis the other day and to be honest, I know we missed him last year, but I didn't realise just how much. My biggest hope for this season is we can see that brutal fend, the ruthless running-game and a few goannas for good measure.
It's hard to know what to expect, but I know I'm excited.