Joseph Manu scores in the corner.

The Telstra Premiership season will kick off in Melbourne for the fourth time as the NRL looks to take advantage of a sporting vacuum in Melbourne the week before the AFL season starts.

A Thursday night AAMI Park clash against the Broncos on March 14 kicks off an opening round of blockbusters to get the 2019 Telstra Premiership underway.

The 6pm Friday game in Newcastle pits former Sharks Jesse Ramien and Edrick Lee up against their former club Cronulla.

That is followed by a huge grudge match between the Rabbitohs and Roosters at the SCG. It is the first match at the venue since 2017, the Roosters' first there since 2010 (and just their third since 1999) and the first time Easts and Souths have met there since 1993.

The code's oldest rivalry will have some added spice with Blues forward Angus Crichton running out against the club where he became a star.

The Bulldogs travel to Auckland to kick off Super Saturday as they look to build on a strong finish to 2018 and eye a return to play by former Kiwi Test half Kieran Foran against a Warriors team hoping to replicate their strong start to last season.

Saturday afternoon footy then heads to Leichhardt Oval as Manly begin a new era under Des Hasler against a Wests Tigers side that may yet have a new coach of their own at the helm.

Saturday wraps up with Ben Barba's return to the NRL up in Townsville as the Cowboys enter the post-Thurston era against the Dragons. Winger Nene Macdonald will be up against his old team.

Sunday afternoon footy pits bitter western Sydney rivals Parramatta and Penrith against each other at Panthers Stadium in a clash that traditionally draws a large crowd. The Eels will still be stinging after the way Penrith kick-started Parramatta's 2018 woes with a big round one comeback in the corresponding fixture last year.

The final match of the round again pits the Titans against the Raiders up at CBus Super Stadium following what was a stunning comeback win for the Gold Coast over Canberra in round one of 2018.