After two big nights at ANZ Stadium the opening round of the 2014 NRL season continues on Saturday with games at two of Sydney’s suburban grounds. A new look Penrith Panthers side get their first outing in front of home fans, while bitter rivals clash at Brookvale Oval later in the day.
Penrith Panthers v Newcastle Knights
Saturday 8th March, Sportingbet Stadium Penrith 16:30
Penrith Panthers unveil their new recruits against Newcastle Knights on Saturday afternoon. Coach Ivan Cleary demonstrated last season that he is able to get the best out of the resources available to him. With the quality additions to the squad for 2014 it is possible that the Panthers will be in finals contention this year.
Kevin Kingston and Peter Wallace have been named as co-captains for this season, with Wallace returning to the club he represented as a junior. Another recruit Jamal Idris has been denied the chance of making his debut in the opening round by a hamstring injury.
Fans attending the NRL game are encouraged to arrive early to catch the NYC and NSW Cup games earlier in the day. Penrith have also introduced an active support zone named ‘The Den’, alongside various stadium upgrades. It is shaping up to be a great year for the Panthers, on and off the field.
Manly Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm
Saturday 8th March, Brookvale Oval 19:00
The fiercest rivalry in the NRL will have its latest chapter written at Brookvale Oval on Saturday night when Manly Sea Eagles host Melbourne Storm. Despite the quotes from various players during the week that this rivalry has lost some of the spite, it is guaranteed that by kick off on Saturday evening both sides will be pumped up to lay an early season blow against the enemy.
The greatest problems facing Manly this year are likely to be off the field than on it. With one of the best rosters in the competition when everyone is fit they are heading towards the inevitable hurdle that is the limit of the salary cap. The futures of Daly Cherry-Evans and Glenn Stewart are under particular scrutiny, with the latter the most likely to lose out given his age.
Injuries are already testing the depth of both squads. Jason King and Jorge Taufua are not ready to line up for the Sea Eagles in the opening round, although David Williams appears to have overcome his injury in time. Melbourne will give Dally M medallist Cooper Cronk until the game day to prove his fitness, while George Rose will make his debut for the Storm against his former club.