Jem Nash previews the opening match of 2022 as the defending premiers face off against a Manly Sea Eagles team with premiership aspirations of their own.
Penrith Panthers vs Manly Sea Eagles
Venue: BlueBet Stadium
Date: Thursday, March 10, 8:05pm AEST
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Charlie Staines 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Cricthon 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Moses Leota 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Liam Martin 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Mitch Kenny 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Matthew Eisenhuth 18. Chris Smith 19. J’maine Hopgood 20. Jaeman Salmon 21. Taylan May 22. Kurt Falls 23. Soni Luke 24. Robert Jennings
Nathan Cleary is likely to miss at least the first three weeks of the season as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery, so Sean O’Sullivan gets the start at halfback. Promising youngster Izack Tago gets first crack at the centre role Matt Burton left behind.Embed from Getty Images
Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Toafofoa Sipley 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Martin Taupau 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Ethan Bullemor 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Tolutau Koula 15. Karl Lawton 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Morgan Boyle 19. Andrew Davey 20. Christian Tuipulotu 21. Jorge Taufua 22. Alec Tuitavake 23. Kaeo Weekes 24. James Roumanos
Tolutau Koula will make his debut off the bench for the Sea Eagles while Haumole Olakau’atu and Ethan Bullemor get the start in the second row with Josh Schuster out with injury.
Referee: Adam Gee
The 2022 NRL season kicks off on Thursday night as the Panthers kick off their premiership defence against the Sea Eagles who are looking to take another step forward after an impressive season last year, falling one game short of a grand final berth.
The Panthers’ job to start the season will be made tougher with the absence of Nathan Cleary. There’s no doubting their dominance last year was largely due to the star halfback’s superb form and without him the Panthers just aren’t the same team. The pressure will now fall on Jarome Luai and Panthers junior Sean O’Sullivan to form a strong combination in quick time to lead their team around the park.
The Sea Eagles are seen as genuine premiership contenders this season and taking down last year’s premiers would be a perfect start. If Tom Trbojevic can pick up where he left off following his historic Dally M campaign in 2021, Manly will have a great chance to win this game. For The Panthers, it comes down to how much they can slow down the star fullback.
The Panthers have won their past five matches against the Sea Eagles, including both their clashes last year by a combined margin of 74-22.
Sea Eagles by 2.
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