NRL 2023: Knights, Warriors, Sea Eagles & Bulldogs Round 1 Previews

NRL 2023: Knights, Warriors, Sea Eagles & Bulldogs Round 1 Previews

The 2023 NRL season promises to be an exciting one for many reasons. We’ll be looking at the changes in each team’s squad and the NRL Fantasy & Supercoach implications of the new recruits as well as the forward pack minutes for NRL Draftstars – for which you can check out our Stats Bible player projections – or Draft players.

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Newcastle Knights

Newcastle Knights NRL 2023 Round 1 team

The Knights didn’t have much to get excited about in 2022 but with the arrival of Hastings & Adam Elliott and a relatively soft early draw they have a shot at starting the new season well.

The big talking point in the offseason has been Kalyn Ponga’s move to the halves. He favoured the left edge in attack when he was the fullback and now he’ll be there for most of the game in the halves. We might finally see the Bradman Best after a hot and cold 2022 after he burst on the scene a couple of years ago.

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Ponga, Hastings & Lachlan Miller are the three most relevant players for NRL Fantasy or NRL Supercoach fans. There’s no harm in picking Miller up in the early rounds for NRL Fantasy, he has a Fantasy friendly style of game and he shouldn’t lose any money.

Hastings will most likely be the goal kicker for the Knights and we think he can do most of the general play kicking to be a solid Fantasy pick.

Ponga’s moving to a position he hasn’t played in many years, has lost his goal kicking and the Knights are unlikely to be a top 8 side. He’s dual position so he’d be a good pickup in Draft, however, for season long coaches we think it’s best to look elsewhere.

Also read: NRL 2023 Round 1 Punter’s Preview

New Zealand Warriors

New Zealand Warriors NRL 2023 Round 1 team

The Warriors finally played a home game after almost 3 seasons towards the end of 2022 and looked a much better team at home. They start 2023 with a home game against the Knights.

Although they’ve got a few new recruits in their forward pack, their squad doesn’t inspire much confidence. Barnett, Ford, Niukore & Dylan Walker are all in the playing 17 for Round 1. Fonua-Blake, Harris, Curran & Afoa all did a reasonable job in 2022.

The simplest way to put this is that due to the multiple hybrid forwards in their lineup, we think it’s best to avoid them all in NRL Fantasy & NRL Supercoach. The only one that could be OK is Ford, only because he’s so cheap. 

Martin & Nicoll-Klokstad are relatively popular with season long coaches and understandably so, given their price. Plugging CNK into your CTW when he’s playing fullback for the Warriors seems an OK option. The same goes with TMM in your WFB for NRL Fantasy.

They’re ok as short-term buys but we fully expect them to have a poor season as a team and therefore be players you’ll need to move on 5-6 weeks in.

Also read: Panthers, Sharks, Cowboys & Eels Round 1 Previews

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles NRL 2023 Round 1 team

Tom Trbojevic is back. Manly open their season at Brooky in the 3pm time slot. What else could say “The NRL is back”?! Let’s cut to the chase – we think it’s best to leave Tom Trbojevic out of your teams for Round 1 in 2023. He has a bye Round 2, has had a horrible run with injuries and they’ve got a pretty tough run of games after their bye.

If he’s healthy and comes out with two good scores, it won’t cost you anything in Supercoach and you can bring him in for his price rises for Tedesco if you start the season with him.

Jake Trbojevic is their only big minute middle forward. Paseka, Keppie, Aloiai can all play around 40 minutes. Keppie seems the best buy at his price – we think he’s one of the best cheapies in both NRL Fantasy & NRL Supercoach.

Olakau’atu was excellent in 2022. We think he’ll continue his form with DCE on the right edge and could be a POD play at least on Supercoach where his running game will be rewarded with the attack-friendly point system!

Also read: Storm, Roosters, Rabbitohs & Raiders Round 1 Previews

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs NRL 2023 Round 1 team

Grand finalists Viliame Kikau & Reed Mahoney join the Bulldogs as do Fa’amanu Brown & Ryan Sutton. Unfortunately Pangai-Junior is out for the first month of the NRL season and Luke Thompson will miss half the season.

It leaves a huge void for Max King and Ryan Sutton to play big minutes in the middle of the field for the Dogs. 

NRL Supercoach & NRL Fantasy players were hot on Matt Burton but then cooled off when the talk was that he was quiet in their final trial. All we can say is – if you liked Burton in the preseason, pick him. Don’t let a trial sway you on a class player in an improving side!

Kikau, Burton & Addo-Carr are going to make for an electric left edge for the Bulldogs. Perham at less than $300k is also a good pickup in NRL Fantasy. There are a lot of cheapies around 230-250k, however, the advantage that Perham is that he’s got job security having won that spot over Averillo.

Check out our fantasy & punting previews in audio and video!


If you want to follow more of our NRL analysis throughout the season or any of our other work at Wicky, please reach out via email or on social media.

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