NRL Round 1 Previews and Betting Tips

The following are previews with betting tips for Round 1 of the 2021 NRL season.

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Storm v Rabbitohs

Thursday, March 11, 8:05pm AEDT


Round one of the 2021 NRL competition will begin with a huge blockbuster clash between South Sydney and the Storm. Souths will have a point to prove in this game after being knocked out of the preliminary finals for the third consecutive year last season and never having tasted victory in the Storm’s home-ground of AAMI park.

Souths have embarked on an impressive recruitment drive, with new signings Jai Arrow and Benji Marshall set to come off the bench while Josh Mansour was named on the wing. For the Storm, the departure of Cameron Smith, Suliasi Vunivalu and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui will be hard to cover with Reimis Smith and George Jennings set to make their club debut at centre and wing respectively, while Brandon Smith shifts to hooker to cover the injured Harry Grant.
The signing of Mansour and Arrow has given the Rabbitohs quality depth and with a fit and firing Latrell Mitchell lining up at fullback, expect South Sydney to match the reigning premier’s intent. Melbourne have been written off time and time again after the departure of superstars but with Smith, Vunivalu and Fa’asuamaleaui and the absence of Dale Finucane and Harry Grant to injury – this Storm team is very different from their 2020 premiership winning squad. This match could go either way but expect the Rabbitohs to break their losing streak in Melbourne to start the 2021 season.

Betting Tip: Rabbitohs H2H @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)



Knights v Bulldogs

Friday, March 12, 6:00pm AEDT
McDonald Jones Stadium


Having undertaken a mammoth roster overhaul, Canterbury will be eager to start a new era in style under coach Trent Barrett, but they will face some staunch opposition in a Knights squad who will have their own point to prove after a disappointing finish to their 2020 campaign.

Canterbury will welcome Nick Cotric, Corey Allan, Kyle Flanagan, Jack Hetherington and Corey Waddell into their starting 13 in a hugely different team to 2020. Bradley Feitz has also been named to make his NRL debut to cover the injured Jeremy Marshall-King. For the Knights, the absence of outside backs Kayln Ponga, Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt will see Tex Hoy, Starford To’a and Gehemat Shibasaki play at fullback and on the wings respectively, while star new recruit Tyson Frizell will play at second-row and Jayden Brailey returning from a knee-reconstruction at hooker.
Despite missing a number of top-line players, Newcastle fans should be enormously excited about the return of rake Jayden Brailey after the club struggled for depth at hooker last year. While Canterbury have recruited very well, it remains to be seen whether Trent Barrett has work to do to turn them into a finals club. This match could go either way but expect the Knights to come away with the points.

Betting Tip: Knights -5.5 @ $1.90 (Playup)



Broncos v Eels

Friday, March 12, 8:05pm AEDT
Suncorp Stadium

After winning the dreaded wooden spoon last year for the first time, the Broncos are attempting to start a new era under club legend and former Queensland coach Kevin Walters, but with limited roster changes the club will have their work cut out for them against a Parramatta club desperate to go to the next level after a disappointing finals campaign in 2020.
New recruit Tom Opacic will line-up at centre in place of the sacked Michael Jennings, while Keegan Hipgrave and Isaiah Papali’i will both make their club debut from the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. For Brisbane, Jamayne Isaako has been named at fullback alongside a new centre-wing combination of Tesi Niu and new-signing David Mead. Impressive rookie Jordan Riki has been named in the second-row with John Asiata set to make his club debut off the bench.
Brisbane have a lot to prove after last year and with a limited recruitment drive, the pressure will be on rookie NRL coach Kevin Walters to turn the club back into a powerhouse. Parramatta have failed to convert their at-times devastating form into finals success, but they will be on a mission to start 2021 with a victory. Expect the Eels to get the win.

Betting Tip: Eels -8.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)



Warriors v Titans

Saturday, March 13, 3:00pm AEDT
Central Coast Stadium

There is a growing feeling that the Titans will be capable of something special under Justin Holbrook, and the addition of a few superstars and a fit roster will go a long way to making that a reality. They will face a Warriors outfit who came within a whisker of a finals appearance last year but there are still question marks over how the team will perform under new coach Nathan Brown.
Euan Aitken, Bailey Sironen and Addin Fonua-Blake will make their club debut at centre, second-row and prop respectively for the Kiwis, with Ben Murdoch-Masila also set to come off the bench in an otherwise unchanged Warriors squad. For the Titans, superstar signings David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui will start at second-row and lock respectively, while Patrick Herbert will make his club debut in the centres in the only major changes from last season.
If the Titans can continue their trend of improvement under Justin Holbrook, the Gold Coast club could contenders for a top-four position given the quality of their roster. While the Warriors also finished their 2020 campaign in style, the lack of continuity under a new coaching staff may delay the Warriors from hitting their potential until they have played some more football. Titans to get the points.

Betting Tip: Titans -2.0 @ $1.98 (Winners Bet)



Roosters v Sea Eagles

Saturday, March 13, 5:30pm AEDT

Sea Eagles
After a disappointing finish to 2020 that included a horror 60-8 loss to the Rabbitohs, the Sydney Roosters will be looking to bounce back in a big way after failing to defend their 2019 premiership victory. They will face a Manly outfit who had a shocking 2020 season, coming fourth last on the premiership ladder with a horror injury toll.
After the departure of Kyle Flanagan, Luke Keary will shift to halfback for the ‘Chooks’, with Lachlan Lam named at five eighth. Sitili Tupouniua will shift to the second-row to cover the retired Mitch Aubusson with Boyd Cordner still absent due to concussion complications. Adam Keighran will also make his club debut off the bench in an otherwise unchanged squad. For Manly, Dylan Walker has been named at fullback to cover the injured Tom Trbojevic in a huge blow for the club. New signing Kieran Foran will return to his old club at five-eighth with Josh Aloiai also set to make his club debut at prop.
Manly’s winning record in the absence of Tom Trbojevic should concern Sea Eagles fans but the addition of Kieran Foran will provide their club with one of the best halves combinations in the NRL and some depth of experience in their play-making stocks. The Roosters are fielding a very similar starting 13 in some encouraging continuity for the club. Expect the 18/19 premiers to start their season in style with a victory over Manly.

Betting Tip: Total Match Points Under 43.5 @ $1.90 (Playup)



Panthers v Cowboys

Saturday, March 13, 7:35pm AEDT
Panthers Stadium

Despite their success and unprecedented winning run last year, Panthers fans were left bitterly disappointed in the 2020 finals series with the club knocked out by eventual premiers in the Melbourne Storm. They will face a Cowboys outfit with a new coaching staff in Todd Payten and after the former Warriors assistant got his old club firing as interim coach, North Queensland faithful will be hoping he can do the same with virtually no new signings.
Penrith have lost some depth in the front-row with Zane Tetevano, James Tamou and Jack Hetherington departing the club with new recruit Matt Eisenhuth set to come off the bench as their only signing as cover. Penrith will field a new centre-wing combination in Paul Momirovski and Charlie Staines in an otherwise unchanged squad. For the Cowboys, Valentine Holmes has been relegated to the wing with Scott Drinkwater lining up at fullback in Todd Payten’s only major changes.
Penrith will enter this match as firm favourites but should not take their opposition lightly. Despite no new signings under Todd Payten, the former Warriors coach has reportedly transformed the game-plan with the primary emphasis on speed. The Panthers are well versed in playing fast, eyes-up footy and expect Penrith to come away with the win.

Betting Tip: Panthers -9.5 @ $1.90 (Bluebet)



Raiders v Tigers

Sunday, March 14, 4:05pm AEDT
GIO Stadium

Raiders’ faithful were left heartbroken after being knocked out of the preliminary finals by the eventual premiers in the Storm in their 2020 finals campaign, but despite the disappointment, fans should also acknowledge the fantastic form in the face of a horrendous injury toll. They will face a new-look Tigers squad that is finally coming to shape under Michael Maguire.
Injured Canberra captain Jarrod Croker will be replaced by rookie centre Sebastian Kris with new signing Ryan James set to make his club debut off the bench. Josh Hodgson will return from injury at hooker from a knee-reconstruction in a huge boost for the Raiders. Wests have named four players to make their club debut with boom rookie Daine Laurie at fullback and James Roberts named at centre. James Tamou and Joe Ofahengaue will also form a new front-row combination alongside talented rookie Jacob Liddle, who will play at dummy-half.
Canberra will enter this match as firm favourites but should be wary of a Tigers squad with enormous strike in their back-line. Coach Michael Maguire has imported the leadership of James Tamou, who was enormously effective as the Panthers’ captain in 2020, while Daine Laurie will provide the club with class and consistency at fullback they have missed since James Tedesco left the club. The Tigers will not go down lightly but expect the cohesion within this experienced Raiders squad to prove the difference.

Betting Tip: Tigers +9.5 @ $1.90 (Bluebet)



Dragons v Sharks

Sunday, March 14, 6:15pm AEDT
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium

Cronulla showed promise throughout 2020 but having failed to beat a top-eight side all season, the Sharks will have a massive point to prove that they can become premiership contenders this year. They will face a Dragons outfit who have transformed their club under new coach Anthony Griffin after a woeful 2020 campaign saw coach Paul McGregor sacked.
St George suffered a devastating blow before the season began after Cameron McInnes succumbed to a season-ending knee injury. New signing Andrew McCullough will play hooker with Jack Bird also set to make his club debut at centre. Daniel Alvaro and Poasa Faamasusili will also play their first game for the ‘Red-V’ off the bench. Meanwhile, the Sharks have made a huge call to omit Andrew Fifita from their squad in favour of new recruit Aiden Tolman on the bench. A fit Matt Moylan will start at five-eighth in place of the injured Shaun Johnson in an otherwise unchanged squad.
Cronulla will enter this match as firm favourites, particularly given the Dragons have been widely tipped to win the wooden-spoon in the 2021 season. Anthony Griffin’s troops will need to find their feet quickly if they are to improve on their club’s 2020 campaign, while Sharks faithful will be desperate for their club to go to the next-level. Sharks to get the points.

Betting Tip: Sharks -3.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)


Best Bet

Titans -2.0 @ $1.98 (Winners Bet)


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