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The historic Sydney Cricket Ground provides the perfect backdrop as James Tedesco and Kalyn Ponga lead their teams into the new season with high hopes of being around well into September.

Both sides were part of the finals action in 2021 but came up short of the ultimate prize as the grind of a long season took its toll, particularly at the Roosters, who dealt with all manner of adversity along the journey.

With two of their most influential players, Luke Keary and Lindsay Collins, back from knee reconstructions, the Roosters take on a formidable look, while the addition of Dane Gagai gives the Knights more strike power.

The Roosters played five matches at the SCG last year before the COVID relocation to Queensland and won four of them so they are right at home on the hallowed turf.

Sportsbet Betting preview: Roosters v Knights

The rundown

Team news

Roosters: Sam Walker and Luke Keary team up for the first time in the halves as the champion No.6 returns from a knee reconstruction.

Also back on deck are Maroons prop Lindsay Collins, who injured his knee in round eight last year against this week's opponents Newcastle, and centre Joey Manu (fractured cheekbone).

Promising centre Billy Smith has been named to play just the sixth game of his career after an ankle injury cut short his 2021 season in round 19.

Connor Watson returns to the Roosters after four years in Newcastle and he'll fill the No.9 jersey with Sam Verrills not due back from suspension until round two.

There were no changes in the updated squad released 24 hours before kick-off.

Knights: Adam Clune steps up to fill Mitchell Pearce's shoes at halfback while Dane Gagai is back in Knights colours in the centres.

Blues Origin prop Daniel Saifiti is out with a small fracture in his left tibia and will be monitored for the next couple of weeks. His brother Jacob moves into the starting side and former Raiders and rugby union prop Leo Thompson will debut from the bench.

Kurt Mann has won the race for the lock position ahead of Phoenix Crossland, who comes from the bench.

With Hymel Hunt sidelined by a knee injury Dominic Young gets a shot on the wing while Chris Randall is the hooker in the absence of Jayden Brailey (achilles).

The Knights had no changes in the updated squad released on Friday.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
    Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
  • Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
    Winger for Knights is number 2 Dominic Young
  • Centre for Roosters is number 3 Billy Smith
    Centre for Knights is number 3 Dane Gagai
  • Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
    Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
  • Winger for Roosters is number 5 Paul Momirovski
    Winger for Knights is number 5 Enari Tuala
  • Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Sam Walker
    Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Jake Clifford
  • Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Luke Keary
    Halfback for Knights is number 7 Adam Clune

Forwards

  • Prop for Roosters is number 10 Lindsay Collins
    Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
  • Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Connor Watson
    Hooker for Knights is number 9 Chris Randall
  • Prop for Roosters is number 15 Fletcher Baker
    Prop for Knights is number 10 Jacob Saifiti
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton
    2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua
    2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
  • Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
    Lock for Knights is number 13 Kurt Mann

Interchange

  • Interchange for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
    Interchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Drew Hutchison
    Interchange for Knights is number 15 Mitchell Barnett
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Nat Butcher
    Interchange for Knights is number 16 Leo Thompson
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Siosiua Taukeiaho
    Interchange for Knights is number 17 Jirah Momoisea

Reserves

  • Replacement for Roosters is number 18 Kevin Naiqama
    Replacement for Knights is number 22 Mat Croker

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
  • Touch Judge: Jon Stone
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

Key match-up

Sam Walker v Adam Clune: The Roosters whiz kid is coming off a stunning rookie season and will be out to prove he's no flash in the pan. The Knights No.7 is out to make a name for himself at a new club after playing 25 games across two seasons at the Dragons. Clune steps into the big shoes vacated by Mitchell Pearce and needs to make the team his own as quickly as possible. At 19, Walker already has ownership of one of the NRL's glamour clubs and looks right at home in the driver's seat. 

Stat attack

The Roosters created 152 line breaks in 2021, fourth best in the NRL behind the Storm, Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs. The Knights could muster just 97 line breaks for the year with winger Enari Tuala (16) the only Newcastle player in the top 50 in that category. The Roosters' most prolific line breakers were Daniel Tupou and Matt Ikuvalu with 18, closely followed by the ever elusive James Tedesco on 17.

 

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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