Newcastle Knights can come out on top in opening joust
Cowboys to round up Sharks in their opener
Knights v Sea Eagles
Sky Sports Arena & Main Event, 7am Friday
It's highly unlikely either of these two sides will feature in the end of season playoffs but both will see this is the perfect opportunity to start the new NRL season in the right way.
For Newcastle Knights, just avoiding the wooden spoon would be an achievement having been the competition's basement boys for the last three seasons.
Manly haven't fared much better but at evens a top-eight finish would rank as a success, while it's 21-20 they prevail in this opening tussle.
Newcastle, though, have recruited heavily in a bid to lift themselves off the bottom and with Mitchell Pearce pulling the strings look a decent shout at 6-5 to overcome a two-point deficit on the match handicap.
2pts 6-5 bet365
Cowboys v Sharks
Sky Sports Arena & Main Event, 8.50am Friday
Our outright tip for NRL glory, North Queensland Cowboys, get an early chance to throw down a marker and they could take full advantage.
Victory over the Sharks won't be easy, though, indeed the Cowboys have won just one of their last five meetings with the Cronulla outfit.
The Sharks are also pretty formidable side on the road - they won ten of their 12 away fixtures last season and won both of their regular-season tussles with these opponents.
It's 15-8 about an away win but preference is for the Cowboys to win a close encounter buoyed by the return of legendary scrum-half, Johnathan Thurston.
Thurston is available following a long injury lay-off and alongside Matt Scott and Michael Morgan the Cowboys should be too strong for the visitors in front of a packed house in Townsville.
Cowboys to win by one to 12 points
1pt 2-1 bet365
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