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NRL: Cowboys, Sharks and Bunnies all in action

Three premiership contenders the North Queensland Cowboys, Cronulla Sharks and South Sydney Rabbitohs all get their 2023 NRL campaign underway on what looks set to be a very exciting Saturday.

The NRL continued to excite on Friday night with the Brisbane Broncos pulling off a shock when defeating the Penrith Panthers on their own patch. The Broncos ran out 13-12 winners but that scoreline actually flattered the Panthers who were completely outplayed by Kevin Walters’ side.

In the other game on Friday night the New Zealand Warriors have got the season off to a good start with a 20-12 win over the Newcastle Knights. Now all the attention can switch to Saturday and there are three good looking games on the agenda.

Manly and Canterbury will get the action underway in the early game, before it is the turn of the Cowboys and Raiders. Then to wrap up the action we have arguably the game of the day when the Sharks take on the Rabbitohs at PointsBet Stadium.

Plenty to look forward to so let’s continue the build up to the action by taking a closer look at each match-up.

What:Manly Sea Eagles v Canterbury Bulldogs
Where:4 Pines Park
When:15:00 (AEST) Saturday 4th March 2023
How to watch:Kayo, Foxtel
Odds:Sea Eagles 1.52, Bulldogs 2.55

After a disastrous end to the 2022 NRL campaign, the Sea Eagles go into the new season on a high following some impressive form in pre-season. They have a new coach in Anthony Seibold and a fully fit Tom Trbojevic so will be looking to hit the ground running against the Bulldogs. 

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Spirits are also high in the Bulldogs camp now new coach Cameron Ciraldo is on board, while Reed Mahoney and Viliame Kikau are the latest big new signings. Hopes are high among their followers that they can make finals this year. The Sea Eagles will be missing one player who could be one of the stars of the season in 2023, Josh Schuster.

The five-eighth has a calf strain so that means new signing Cooper Johns will partner Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves. With Trbojevic back in at fullback, Kaeo Weeks, who impressed in pre-season, will switch to the utility role off the bench. For the Bulldogs Luke Thompson misses out through injury so Fa’amanu Brown is set to play at lock in his absence.

What:North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders
Where:Queensland Country Bank Stadium 
When:17:30 (AEST) Saturday 4th March 2023
How to watch:Kayo, Foxtel
Odds:Cowboys 1.36, Raiders 3.20

North Queensland Cowboys were one of the surprise packages of 2022 when finishing third on the ladder and they will be looking to build on that in 2023.

Todd Payten’s men have lost a few players from that side with Tom Gilbert heading off to the Dolphins, while Heilum Luki and Luciano Leilua are also missing. Even so they still have plenty of quality including two of the stars of the NRL last year, Reuben Cotter and Jeremiah Nanai.

The Raiders also made finals last year and making the top eight will again be high on the agenda so they need to get off to a good start. Xavier Savage will be missing for the Raiders after suffering a broken jaw so Ricky Stuart will weigh up his options at fullback.

Neither of these sides were particularly impressive in pre-season so it will be interesting to see how they go on Saturday.

What:Cronulla Sharks v South Sydney Rabbitohs
Where:PointsBet Stadium 
When:19:35 (AEST) Saturday 4th March 2023
How to watch:Kayo, Foxtel
Odds:Sharks 2.55, Rabbitohs 1.52

Both the Sharks and Rabbitohs will have their eyes on going all the way and winning the Grand Final in 2023. The Rabbitohs made it all the way to the big dance before losing to the Penrith Panthers and they will be out to go one step further and win it in this campaign.

The Sharks impressed in the regular season when finishing second on the ladder but disappointed in finals when losing both games so there is plenty of room for improvement. Both sides have rosters packed with quality and Saturday’s game has all the makings of a classic.

The Sharks will be missing one star man though as Nicho Hynes is out with a calf strain so Braydon Trindall will take his place at halfback. Souths have all their big guns available and are looking very strong, however winger Taane Milne misses out through suspension.

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