Penrith winger-fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

The biggest news for Penrith heading into 2019 is the return of Ivan Cleary as head coach, and he is expected to bring plenty of defensive nous to a side that regularly slipped behind early in games in 2018.

The roster is fairly familiar despite two key forwards leaving, with the new names largely coming in the form of promotions for local juniors.

Arguably the biggest conundrum for Ivan Cleary heading into 2019 is to decide whether New Zealand fullback and captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is wasted on the wing; if he starts at fullback it likely would mean dropping Dylan Edwards and starting Malakai Watene-Zelezniak on the wing. Trent Merrin and Corey Harawira-Naera leave gaps in the pack but recruit Tyrell Fuiamaono and a host of up-and-comers provide no shortage of quality replacements.

Resident NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:

"Dylan Edwards for me is the fullback. Dallin had a fantastic season, captaining his country, really became one of the better fullbacks in the competition but defensively still has some work to do and I think that's where Ivan Cleary will keep Dylan and Dallin at the moment. Whether they swap with Dylan spending some time on the wing we'll have to wait and see but the Penrith window is open now, everything they wanted they've got, they've moved on some older players, upgraded some younger guys.

"I'd leave Tamou on the bench and start Kaide Ellis with no Fuimaono and put Tyrone May on the bench for Egan."

NRL.com's predicted Round 1 team:

  1. Dylan Edwards
  2. Josh Mansour
  3. Dean Whare
  4. Waqa Blake
  5. Dallin Watene-Zeleniak
  6. James Maloney
  7. Nathan Cleary
  8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  9. Sione Katoa
  10. James Tamou
  11. Viliame Kikau
  12. Isaah Yeo
  13. James Fisher-Harris
  14. Wayde Egan
  15. Tyrell Fuimaono
  16. Jack Hetherington
  17. Moses Leota

Other squad members: Caleb Aekins, Jed Cartwright, Kaide Ellis, Tim Grant, Jarome Luai, Nick Lui-Toso, Liam Martin, Tyrone May, Tyrone Phillips, Paea Pua, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak