The Panthers last year surged to their first premiership since 1991 and the premiers host last year's surprise packets Manly in a huge opening to the 2022 Telstra Premiership season.
Penrith's dominance last year was in no small part to the superb form of halfback Nathan Cleary, who was always touch-and-go for round one after off season shoulder surgery but has now been ruled out for a few weeks in a huge blow to Penrith's hopes of starting the season with a bang.
Manly's own dominance was built off the back of a stunning individual season from Dally M medal winner Tom Trbojevic, who has already been setting up tries for fun through the trials and is out to not just match but improve on an individual season already considered one of the best ever.
Sportsbet Betting preview: Panthers v Sea Eagles
Panthers: No late changes expected for the defending premiers. With Cleary out, local junior Sean O'Sullivan will make his first NRL appearance for the club. With Paul Momirovski and Matt Burton gone, Stephen Crichton returns to the centres alongside rookie Izack Tago and Charlie Staines is back on the wing.
Robert Jennings, J'maine Hopgood, Taylan May, Kurt Falls and Soni Luke were omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.
Sea Eagles: Haumole Olakau'atu has surprisingly been named to make an early return from an elbow injury with Ethan Bullemor his second-row partner with Josh Schuster currently injured. Exciting rookie Tolutau Koula makes his debut off the bench with Dylan Walker absent. Toff Sipley starts alongside Marty Taupau in the front row.
Andrew Davey, James Roumanos, Jorge Taufua, Alec Tuitavake and Kaeo Weekes were cut from the extended squad 24 hours before kick-off.
Match: Panthers v Sea Eagles
Round 1 -
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan EdwardsFullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Tom Trbojevic
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie StainesWinger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Jason Saab
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack TagoCentre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Brad Parker
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen CrichtonCentre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Morgan Harper
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'oWinger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Reuben Garrick
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome LuaiFive-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Kieran Foran
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Sean O'SullivanHalfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses LeotaProp for Sea Eagles is number 8 Toafofoa Sipley
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai KoroisauHooker for Sea Eagles is number 9 Lachlan Croker
Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-HarrisProp for Sea Eagles is number 10 Martin Taupau
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Haumole Olakau'atu
2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Ethan Bullemor
Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch KennyInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Tolutau Koula
Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott SorensenInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 15 Karl Lawton
Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer LeniuInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Sean Keppie
Interchange for Panthers is number 20 Jaeman SalmonInterchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Taniela Paseka
Replacement for Panthers is number 18 Chris SmithReplacement for Sea Eagles is number 18 Morgan Boyle
- Referee: Adam Gee
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
Isaah Yeo v Jake Trbojevic: For all the class and flash and skill of the playmakers and backs, the two workhorse Origin rep locks will have a massive say in this contest. Trbojevic somehow manages to be underrated despite being a walk-up start for NSW, with his intelligent ball distribution, stop-em-and-drop-em defence and lightning fast play-the-ball often overlooked in Manly's success. Yeo meanwhile has surpassed Trbojevic into the sky blue No.13 jersey after two humongous years for the Panthers since shifting from an edge to the middle.
These two teams didn't quite score the most points of 2021 but they were the two hardest to tackle, ranking first and second in the NRL for tackle busts through the regular season. Penrith topped the league with 874 led by Brian To'o's 120 while Manly's 857 was next-best with Tom Trbojevic (105) their biggest contributor.