NRL Round 1

Can Manly win back-to-back Premierships without Des Hasler? Image courtesy of Getty Images/
Energy Australia Stadium will host the opening fixture of the 2012 NRL season when a new-look Newcastle Knights  take on the St George-Illawarra Dragons . The Knights have recruited aggressively over the past twelve months to secure the services of the game’s most successful coach Wayne Bennet along with a wealth of talent from the NRL and abroad. Darius Boyd joins his mentor at the Knights along with gun New South Wales prop Kade Snowden who makes the move from Cronulla, while Timana Tahu and Danny Buderus return to their old club from stints at Penrith and the English Super League respectively.

After a disappointing finish to their 2012 campaign narrowly missing out on a preliminary final spot thanks to the left boot of Darren Lockyer, the Dragons too have bolstered their playing stocks ahead of the 2012 season adding key recruits Chase Stanley, Will Matthews and powerhouse forward josh Miller.

In other round 1 matches, an end of an era begins for the Brisbane Broncos  when they take the field against Parammata  post Darren Lockyer. Australian and Queensland second-rower Sam Thaiday takes the reins at Red Hill and will be well supported by the return of Petro Civoneciva. The Eels gained the prized signature of Chirs Sandown last season and will be looking at the Murgon product to guide them around the park alongside Jarryd Hayne who is favoured to retain the number six jersey.

The Sea Eagles  travel to Auckland for a grand-final replay against the Warriors  who will be out for revenge after their narrow 2011 grand final defeat. Both teams welcome new coaches for 2012 with the Warrioirs signing Brian McClennan form English Super League and Geoff Toovey taking over from Des Hasler at Brookvale.

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