St George Dragons v Brisbane Broncos, Kogarah Oval, 7.50pm (AEDT)
The Queenslander Wally-Fullerton Smith continues to impress since arriving at the Dragons last year. This match will be a thunderous battle between the forward packs, with Paul Osborne, Craig Young and Greame Wynn taking on Andrew Tessman, Greg Dowling and Gene Miles. VERDICT: ST GEORGE

Newcastle Knights v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Marathon Stadium, 6pm (AEDT)
Expansion team the Newcastle Knights are starting from scratch, but should hit the ground running. They boast the likes of Glenn Frendo, Sam Stewart and young tyro Tony Butterfield. However, they’ll likely learn a thing or two this week from classy stalwarts for Manly in Cliff Lyons, Des Hasler and Noel Cleal. VERDICT: MANLY

North Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Glen Willow Regional Sports Complex, 7.50pm (AEDT)
A terrific battle of the halves combinations to open up the new Winfield Cup season. Laurie Spina and Ian Dunemann for the expansion team from North Queensland, up against the dynamic and established Sharks duo of Paul Green and Mitch Healey. VERDICT: NORTH QUEENSLAND

Western Suburbs Magpies v Eastern Suburbs Roosters, Lidcombe Oval, 4pm (AEDT)
Can we mention a fibros vs silvertails game not involving Manly? It will be a fantastic battle in the centres today between Magpies juggernauts Ken McGuinness and Brandon Costin, and the Roosters’ Jason Hudson and Luke Ricketson. We have a feeling these team names will be around for a while to come. VERDICT: EASTERN SUBURBS

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Auckland Warriors, the WACA, 7pm (AEDT)
Yet another expansion team, the Auckland Warriors have collected a group of players who will deliver New Zealand premiership upon premiership. With Gene Ngamu, Stacy Jones and Greg Alexander, the Warriors will be unbeatable. Danger (not really) for Will Robinson and Craig Field. VERDICT: SOUTH SYDNEY

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v North Sydney Bears, WACA, 9pm (AEDT)
That’s right. In our world the Bears are back … in fact they never went away. Greg Florimo and his men today come up against a team led by the inspirational Dean Pay, who many have tipped to coach later in his life … Probably in the top league from about 2018 if we’re to believe the experts. VERDICT: NORTH SYDNEY

NEC BIG GAME: Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels, Penrith Park, 4.10pm (AEDT)
It will be standing-room only as Royce Simmons’ Penrith boys take on the Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny-led Eels from Parramatta. The battle up front between Parra’s Geoff Bugden and Penrith bookend Peter Kelly will be worth the $4 admission alone. VERDICT: PENRITH

Gold Coast Tweed Heads Giants v Canberra Raiders, Seagulls Stadium, 6.30pm (AEDT)
Michael Searle and Chris “Choppy” Close are in for a tough afternoon at Seagulls, as they try to contain the Raiders giants in Glenn Lazarus and Brent Todd. The Ricky Stuart vs Geoff Bagnall battle of the sevens should be a ripper, too. VERDICT: CANBERRA

(Don’t fret joint-venture fans. We’ll be swapping between Magpies and Balmain and Dragons and Steelers etc through the season. For the purposes of this exercise, Melbourne = North Sydney Bears.)