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NRL: Dolphins set for baptism of fire

All the waiting is over for the NRL’s 17th club the Dolphins who kick-off their debut season with a tough encounter against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday.

It has been a hectic time for the Dolphins since their entry into the NRL was confirmed but now it will all get real when they take to the pitch at Suncorp Stadium against the Roosters.

The game could not be much harder as the Roosters are one of the hot fancies for the premiership, but upsets do happen and Dolphins coach Wayne Bennet would know all about that having been the mastermind behind many over the years. 

But this would arguably be the biggest yet for the super coach. In the later game on Sunday, the Wests Tigers will take on the Gold Coast Titans.

These two sides had horror seasons in 2022 but are expected to be further up the ladder in 2023. There has been big changes at the Tigers in particular.

It is of course just the first game of the season but it is hugely important for these two sides. They need strong starts to the season otherwise the critics will be out in force once again. It does not take much. Let’s take a closer look at Sunday’s action.

What:Dolphins v Sydney Roosters
Where:Suncorp Stadium
When:16:05 (AEST) Sunday 5th March 2023
How to watch:Channel 9, Foxtel, Kayo
Odds:Dolphins 6.25, Roosters 1.12

Avoiding the wooden spoon would have to be viewed as a successful first season for the Dolphins as they are priced at 2.62 to suffer the most losses in the season ahead.

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However with Bennett at the helm, who knows anything might be possible and a push for finals could happen. They can be backed at 9.00 to play finals. Whatever happens, with Bennett back in the NRL there is never likely to be a dull moment and having the Dolphins in the comp can only be a good thing.

The Dolphins have an extremely strong forward pack that will be key to their chances. It includes brother Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi, Tom Gilbert and Jarrod Wallace. It could get a bit heated in that area of the pitch when they come up against the likes of Victor Radley, Lindsay Collins and Matt Lodge.

Young starlet Isaiya Katoa has also been handed the No.6 jersey ahead of the more experienced Anthony Milford. Sydney Roosters do not usually start the new season well. Indeed they have lost the first game on four out of the last five seasons. That could also offer some encouragement to the Dolhpins.

The Roosters have been rocked by the news that key players Joey Manu and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves are out with a fractured cheekbone and back injury respectively.

There is good news though as Luke Keary has recovered from injury to play in the halves alongside Sam Walker, while top new signing Brandon Smith will make his Roosters NRL debut playing in the No.9 jersey.

What:Wests Tigers v Gold Coast Titans
Where:Leichardt Oval
When:19:15 (AEST) Sunday 5th March 2023
How to watch:Foxtel, Kayo
Odds:Tigers 1.56, Titans 2.45

The Tigers embark on what they hope will be a bright new era when they begin the new campaign under the leadership of coach Tim Sheens.

The plan is eventually to hand the reins over to Benji Marshall, but for now they will be working together very closely with a view to getting the club back in the eight.

They have not been there since 2011 so the pressure is on to have a good season. The Tigers have recruited well with Api Koroisau arriving from the Panthers and he will be a huge player for them in 2023.

Fellow news signings John Bateman, David Klemmer and Isaiah Papali'i are also set to figure in a very strong looking starting side. Luke Brooks has also recovered from a calf injury and will play in the halves. The Titans finished in finals in 2021 and were expected to kick on the year after only to slide right down the ladder.

They are looking to return to the eight again and the pressure is on coach Justin Holbrook to deliver. Another poor start and the pressure will be piling on the Titans coach. The Titans have been boosted by the arrival of Kieran Foran and he is set to play a key role leading the attack alongside AJ Brimson.

Youngster Tanah Boyd also has a huge role to play. Gold Coast have suffered a big blow though as edge forward Beau Fermor has suffered an ACL injury at training and is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

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