The big news for the Bunnies is the long anticipated coaching swap with Brisbane, meaning the code's most experienced mentor Wayne Bennett took the reins before Christmas.
Bennett has indicated Maroons skipper Greg Inglis is likely to move back to fullback, casting doubts over Alex Johnston's place in the squad. At this stage Alex Johnston retains the No.1 jersey but if Inglis moves back there, one of Braidon Burns, Adan Doueihi or Campbell Graham will move into the centres leaving Johnston to battle it out with Robert Jennings (if he re-signs), Mawene Hiroti and Jacob Gagan for wing spots. Former Bronco Corey Allan is also pushing for a chance at fullback.
The departure of Angus Crichton to the Roosters means a slight reshuffle in the pack, with one of Sam Burgess and Cameron Murray likely to shift wider.
Resident NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:
"The pressure is on Reynolds and Walker this year to get that spine right. Cook had a great season. Can they back that up? Can they replace Crichton on the edge?
"The pressure is on Reynolds to lift his game to Cook's level, apply pressure and turn that pressure into points.
"GI probably creates more ball-playing out the back than Johnston and I know Wayne likes that ball-playing option. AJ probably hasn't got that in his game and you need someone to create a point of difference in attack out the back and GI certainly does that if he's fit.
"If he doesn't want to play there and feels like he can only manage the centres you have to leave him there. Maybe they just chop and change in attack."
NRL.com's predicted Round 1 team:
- Alex Johnston
- Campbell Graham
- Greg Inglis
- Dane Gagai
- Braidon Burns/Robert Jennings
- Cody Walker
- Adam Reynolds
- George Burgess
- Damien Cook
- Thomas Burgess
- John Sutton
- Cameron Murray
- Sam Burgess
- Dean Britt
- Kurt Dillon
- Tevita Tatola
- Adam Doueihi
Other squad members: Kyle Turner, Corey Allan, Billy Britain, Jacob Gagan, Mawene Hiroti, Sam Johnstone, Richie Kennar, Rhys Kennedy, Matt McIlwrick, Mark Nicholls, Bayley Sironen, Connor Treacy.