NRL 2023: Predicted Round 1 team line-up

Tim Williams runs his eye over every squad in the NRL to predict his starting 17 for every club in Round 1 of the 2023 season.


We’re closing in on the start of the 2023 NRL season.

With every day of the pre-season we get a greater idea of how each squad will line-up in round 1.

Trial games are all finished, giving us a far greater idea of teams for the season opener.

Below I’ve had a crack at predicting what I think will be the starting side for each team.

This article is constantly updated as new information comes to light.

If there’s question marks over a players fitness for round 1, I’ve generally just included them in the starting team.

From a Supercoach perspective, if a player is only in for one round due to injury it makes them largely irrelevant anyway.

If there’s something you don’t agree with, let me know at the bottom of the page in the comment section and convince me otherwise, I’d be more than happy to make the change!

Sign up to SC Playbook in 2023! Gain access to stacks of additional premium articles every week during the pre-season and regular season, our major subscriber prize, our Whatsapp community featuring Qnas with our team of contributors, and plenty of other bonus features. SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Embed from Getty Images

Brisbane Broncos

1. Reece Walsh
2. Corey Oates
3.  Herbie Farnworth
4.  Kotoni Staggs
5.  Selwyn Cobbo
6.  Ezra Mam
7. Adam Reynolds
8.  Payne Haas
9.  Billy Walters
10. Tom Flegler 
11. Jordan Riki
12. Kurt Capewell
13. Patrick Carrigan

14.  Cory Paix
15.  Keenan Palasia
16.  Corey Jensen
17. Marty Taupau

Team news:

The big question mark revolves around the hooking department, with Billy Walters the front-runner to start at number nine.

He is among a chasing pack consisting of Tyson Smoothy, Cory Paix and highly touted rookie Blake Mozer.

Kobe Hetherington will fight for a bench spot on return from a bicep injury.

Jordan Riki will have to earn his edge back-row spot after a somewhat disappointing year, but is expected at this stage to get first crack.

Embed from Getty Images

Canberra Raiders

1. Seb Kris
2. Jordan Rapana
3. Nick Cotric
4. Matt Timoko
5. Harley Smith-Shields
6. Jack Wighton
7. Jamal Fogarty
8. Josh Papalii
9. Danny Levi
10. Corey Horsburgh
11. Hudson Young
12. Elliott Whitehead
13. Joe Tapine

14. Tom Starling
15. Corey Harawira-Naera
16. Emre Guler
17. Pasami Saulo

Team news:

New recruit Danny Levi is the surprise front-runner to start at hooker for the Green Machine in 2023.

If confirmed, this would see Zac Woolford drop out of the 17, with Tom Starling remaining on the bench.

With Xavier Savage breaking his jaw during trials, Seb Kris is likely to play fullback, and Harley Smith-Shields to make his way back from a long-term injury at centre or wing.

Skipper Jarrod Croker will also be fighting to win back his spot in the backline following a tough 2022 season riddled by injuries.

The most contentious position in the team is the lock role vacated by Adam Elliott.

A number of players are vying for the role, headed by Joe Tapine, Emre Guler and Corey Horsburgh, with Corey Harawira-Naera the smokey for the spot.

NSW U19s star Trey Mooney had been tipped for a permanent role off the bench this season, but faces stiff competition from Ata Mariota and Pasami Saulo who have had bumper pre-seasons. I have Saulo winning the spot at this stage.

Embed from Getty Images

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

1. Hayze Perham
2. Jacob Kiraz
3. Jake Averillo
4. Paul Alamoti
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Matt Burton
7. Kyle Flanagan
8. Luke Thompson
9. Reed Mahoney
10. Max King
11. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
12. Viliame Kikau

13. Ryan Sutton

14. Nu Brown
15. Franklin Pele
16. Andrew Davey
17. Jacob Preston

Team news:

Hayze Perham is the front-runner to start at fullback for the Bulldogs in Round 1.

This will see Jake Averillo and rookie Paul Alamoti start in the centres, with Braidon Burns missing out.

I expected Raymond Faitala-Mariner to start on an edge before moving to the middle, with either Andrew Davey or highly touted former Rooster Jacob Preston coming onto the edge.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Faitala-Mariner start at lock at some stage, with Davey on the edge.

I’m not certain how the bench will look, as I think ideally they’d want Reed Mahoney as an 80-minute hooker, meaning Nu Brown would only be required as cover.

Tevita Pangai Jnr is injured and now unavailable for the first month, this could very well see Franklin Pele and Preston on the bench.

Embed from Getty Images

Cronulla Sharks

1. Will Kennedy
2. Sione Katoa
3. Siosifa Talakai
4. Jesse Ramien
5. Ronaldo Mulitalo
6. Matt Moylan
7. Nicho Hynes
8. Toby Rudolf
9. Blayke Brailey
10. Braden Hamlin-Uele
11. Briton Nikora
12. Teig Wilton
13. Dale Finucane

14. Cameron McInnes
15. Wade Graham
16. Royce Hunt
17. Jack Williams

Team news:

This Sharks outfit pretty well picks itself.

I’m tipping Teig Wilton to start in place of Wade Graham, but it’s not locked in.

Jack Williams and Oregon Kaufusi are expected to battle for the final bench spot, while there’s also the option to go with Connor Tracey as the utility.

It’s a big bench, so coach Craig Fitzgibbon may opt for a bench utility, however the versatility of Cam McInnes, Wade Graham and Briton Nikora allow for the big boppers on the pine.

Embed from Getty Images


1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
2. Robert Jennings
3. Tesi Niu
4. Euan Aitken
5. Jamayne Isaako
6. Anthony Milford
7. Sean O’Sullivan
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Jeremy Marshall-King
10. Mark Nicholls
11. Kenny Bromwich 
12. Felise Kaufusi
13. Tom Gilbert

14. Kodi Nikorima
15. Ray Stone
16. Jarrod Wallace
17. Herman Ese’ese

Team news:

The forward pack at the Dolphins relatively well picks itself, with Tom Gilbert expected to start at lock, and Ray Stone off the bench.

The backline looks semi locked in, although job security of each position is pretty poor, outside of Euan Aitken.

All of Oliver Gildart, Valynce Te Whare, Isaiya Katoa and Brenko Lee will push for spots early in the season.

Katoa was spotted training with the top squad during the week, with Anthony Milford with the second string side, so perhaps he’s jumped him late?

Connelly Lemuele is also a chance to nab a bench spot over Herman Ese’ese.

Edrick Lee will miss the opening stages of the season with injury.

Embed from Getty Images

Gold Coast Titans

1. AJ Brimson
2. Jojo Fifita
3. Phillip Sami
4. Aaron Schoupp
5. Alofiana Khan-Pereira
6. Kieran Foran
7. Tanah Boyd
8. Moeaki Fotuaika
9. Sam Verrills
10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
11. David Fifita
12. Beau Fermor
13. Erin Clark

14. Jayden Campbell
15. Joe Stimson
16. Isaac Lui
17. Jaimin Jolliffe

Team news:

With Pat Herbert and Brian Kelly unavailable to start the season due to injury and suspension respectively, Phillip Sami and Aaron Schoupp will get the nod in the centres.

Once the former pair are available, as per last season that spot will be up for grabs most weeks until someone can lock down a role.

Should rookie wing pair Jojo Fifita and Alofiana Khan-Pereira struggle early on, Sami could also move to the wing.

We’ve linked up with betr for the 2023 season, where we’ll deliver a weekly SC Playbook market. Kicking things off, we’re tipping the Roosters to dominate with a lethal roster and the Dolphins to do it tough in their inaugural NRL year. Follow us here 👉

Kieran Foran will play left edge with Beau Fermor, while Tanah Boyd will link up with David Fifita on the right. Boyd will also kick goals.

The mystery is where Jayden Campbell fits in. Is he the 14? The versatility of AJ Brimson, Beau Fermor and Erin Clark may mean they can run with the livewire fullback at 14, to be used in a ‘break in case of emergency’ type scenario.

I struggle to see how he’s injected anywhere other than fullback, so I’m intrigued as to what Justin Holbrook does at 14.

Maybe he just opts for Erin Clark and a four forward bench? Time will tell.

Embed from Getty Images

Manly Sea Eagles

1. Tom Trbojevic
2. Christian Tuipulotu
3. Tolutau Koula
4. Brad Parker
5. Reuben Garrick
6. Josh Schuster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Josh Aloiai
9. Lachlan Croker
10. Jake Trbojevic
11. Kelma Tuilagi
12. Haumole Olakau’atu
13. Sean Keppie

14. Ben Trbojevic
15. Toa Sipley
16. Taniela Paseka
17. Ethan Bullemor

Team news:

Tom Trbojevic is expected to be fit for Round 1, while Jason Saab won’t return till later in the season due to injury.

Reuben Garrick has declared he wants to move to the centres at some stage when it suits what the team requires, but as it stands I’ve got him on the wing.

Kelma Tuilagi is likely to line-up on the left edge outside Josh Schuster.

The pack pretty well picks itself, while Ben Condon and Zac Fulton will push for bench roles.

Jake Trbojevic may make the move to prop as per NSW Origin, which would open the door for a role at lock.

This is pending which style of footy Anthony Seibold wants to play, be it a big bopper at lock or a more agile ball-playing 13.

Embed from Getty Images

Melbourne Storm

1. Nick Meaney
2. Will Warbrick
3. Young Tonumaipea
4. Reimis Smith
5. Xavier Coates
6. Cameron Munster
7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Christian Welch
9. Harry Grant
10. Josh King
11. Trent Loiero
12. Eliesa Katoa
13. Tariq Sims

14. Tyran Wishart
15. Tui Kamikamica
16. Tom Eisenhuth
17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona

Team news:

With Ryan Papenhuyzen looking more and more likely to miss an extended period of the season, Nick Meaney will deputise at fullback. Meaney will also be the first choice goal-kicker.

With Justin Olam out for around six weeks, and George Jennings four, Young Tonumaipea is likely to start at centre, and Will Warbrick on the wing. Dean Ieremia is also in the mix.

Marion Seve is injured ruling him out of contention.

With the departures of Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi, the edge back-row make-up is a genuine lottery at this stage.

The trials will tell the tale, with a host of candidates for the starting role.

They include: Trent Loiero, Tariq Sims, Eliesa Katoa, Jack Howarth, Tom Eisenhuth and Joe Chan.

Struggling to pay off your credit card, loans all over the place? Stress less, we mean it, Pat and George from Mortgage Choice SCW can ease the pressure by getting you a single loan to help you pay off debts, at a lower rate. Mention SC Playbook for a FREE CONSULT!

Sims may also be utilised as a middle as he was at the Dragons in large periods of 2022, placing further uncertainty around the edges.

Tepai Moeroa is another in line for a bench spot, but he would play in the middle rotation if named.

From a Supercoach perspective, this is very significant ahead of round 1, although you’d be hard pressed trusting the minutes/rotation of whoever gets the early nod.

Should Jack Howarth get named on the bench, or starting, that would provide utility cover in the backline, which has the potential to see Tyran Wishart miss the side, locking in 80 minutes for Grant.

I think that’s probably wishful thinking, but it’s a possibility.

With Jack Howarth being named for the Sunshine Coast Falcons in week two of trials, it suggests he’ll miss out.

Embed from Getty Images

Newcastle Knights

1. Lachlan Miller
2. Greg Marzhew
3. Bradman Best
4. Dane Gagai
5. Dom Young
6. Kalyn Ponga
7. Jackson Hastings
8. Jacob Saifiti
9. Jayden Brailey
10. Daniel Saifiti
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon
13. Adam Elliott

14. Kurt Mann
15. Leo Thompson
16. Brodie Jones
17. Jack Hetherington

Team news:

Recruit Lachlan Miller will play fullback, while Greg Marzhew faces competition from Enari Tuala and Hymel Hunt for a wing role.

Provided he’s fit for Round 1, Lachlan Fitzgibbon is expected to start on the left edge.

Returning from a groin injury of his own, Adam Elliott will start at lock, but I’m expecting him to spend plenty of time on that left edge outside Kalyn Ponga in 2023.

When that shift occurs, Kurt Mann will come onto the field at lock.

Embed from Getty Images

New Zealand Warriors

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
3. Viliame Vailea
4. Marcelo Montoya
5. Edward Kosi
6. Te Maire Martin
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Addin Fonua-Blake
9. Wayde Egan
10. Mitchell Barnett
11. Marata Niukore
12. Josh Curran
13. Tohu Harris

14. Dylan Walker
15. Tom Ale
16. Bunty Afoa
17. Jackson Ford

Team news:

A team that certainly does not pick itself…

A shout out to Warriors tragic Anton Posa who helped me piece this one together with just about every bit of insight provided by Andrew Webster in recent months.

The talk is that there will be shuffles within the pack, with Mitch Barnett starting at prop before shifting to an edge.

At this stage, Josh Curran would go to lock, and Tohu Harris to prop.

Don’t be confused too much, whether you’re prop or lock is in essence the same nowadays, as they’re more classed as middle forwards.

Harris is expected to play big minutes as the ball-playing link man, while Marata Niukore could get as many as 80 on the edge.

Adding further intrigue to the line-up was the naming of cheapie Jackson Ford on the edge in the second trial, meaning he may have edged Curran to start.

It’ll be fascinating to see how this all plays out in round 1.

Jazz Tevaga is expected to miss numerous games due to injury.

Luke Metcalf was also injured during the pre-season and will miss a lengthy stretch of games, locking in the fullback spot to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstadd.

Embed from Getty Images

North Queensland Cowboys

1. Scott Drinkwater
2. Murray Taulagi
3. Peta Hiku
4. Valentine Holmes
5. Kyle Feldt
6. Tom Dearden
7. Chad Townsend
8. Jordan McLean
9. Reece Robson
10. Reuben Cotter
11. Jeremiah Nanai
12. Coen Hess
13. Jason Taumalolo

14. Jake Granville
15. James Tamou
16. Griffin Neame
17. Mitch Dunn

Team news:

This side picks itself, with Coen Hess tipped to move back to the second-row to start the season.

Luciano Leilua is unavailable due to an off-field incident, while Heilum Luki will return further into the season from an ACL injury.

The only debatable position is the utility bench spot, with Jake Granville likely to win the role.

Rookie fullback Tom Chester is also impressing up north and may come into contention in the similar role played by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow last season.

Embed from Getty Images

Parramatta Eels

1. Clint Gutherson
2. Sean Russell
3. Zac Cini
4. Will Penisini
5. Maika Sivo
6. Dylan Brown
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Junior Paulo
9. Josh Hodgson
10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
11. Jack Murchie
12. Matt Doorey
13. J’maine Hopgood

14. Mitch Rein
15. Bryce Cartwright
16. Ofahiki Ogden
17. Makahesi Makatoa

Team news:

There are several players vying for the right edge back-row role vacated by Isaiah Papali’i.

Jack Murchie, Jirah Momoisea and Matt Doorey will all be given a chance to win the role as the pre-season unfolds.

Shaun Lane was injured in week two of pre-season trials, meaning Murchie and Doorey (also under an injury cloud) are likely to start.

Ryan Matterson is suspended for the first three rounds. Nathan Brown and Bryce Cartwright are both injured.

Bailey Simonsson is expected to miss the start of the season with injury, but will push for a starting role once fit.

Haze Dunster, Sean Russell, Zac Cini Waqa Blake will all battle for backline positions.

At this stage I have Russell on the wing and surprise contender Cini at centre, but it’s really still up for grabs at this point.

I suspect Mitch Rein will play the early stages as relief for Josh Hodgson at hooker on return from a lengthy ACL injury lay-off.

As match fitness builds, I see Hodgo becoming an 80-minute man with Rein likely to drop off the bench.

The bench make-up is also somewhat of a mystery, with Ky Rodwell and Jirah Momoisea every chance at jagging a spot.

Embed from Getty Images

Penrith Panthers

1. Dylan Edwards
2. Brian To’o
3. Stephen Crichton
4. Izack Tago
5. Sunia Turuva
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Moses Leota
9. Mitch Kenny
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Liam Martin
12. Luke Garner
13. Isaah Yeo

14. Soni Luke
15. Spencer Leniu
16. Scott Sorensen
17. Matt Eisenhuth

Team news:

The defending premiers pretty well pick themselves despite some change in personnel.

Luke Garner is likely to get first crack on the left edge vacated by Viliame Kikau, with former Bronco Zac Hosking to miss out.

Liam Martin is in slight doubt for round 1 with an AC joint injury, but he’s expected to be fit to play.

Taylan May will miss the first two rounds due to suspension, with Fijian flyer Sunia Turuva to deputise in the meantime.

Mitch Kenny and Soni Luke are likely to share the hooking role vacated by Api Koroisau.

I’d expect Kenny to play the first 25-30 minutes, with Luke injected off the bench.

Embed from Getty Images

St George Illawarra Dragons

1. Tyrell Sloan
2. Mat Feagai
3. Moses Suli
4. Zac Lomax
5. Mikaele Ravalawa
6. Moses Mbye
7. Ben Hunt
8. Blake Lawrie
9. Jacob Liddle
10. Zane Musgrove
11. Jack Bird
12. Jaydn Su’A
13. Jack de Belin

14. Jayden Sullivan
15. Josh Kerr
16. Tyrell Fuimaono
17. Aaron Woods

Team news:

Anthony Griffin may opt for Moses Mbye starting in the halves, with Jayden Sullivan off the bench as per the Charity Shield.

Jack Bird is in some doubt for round 2 (round 1 bye) with a meniscus injury but is expected to be available.

Talatau Amone is dealing with an off-field issue and is unavailable for an indefinite period.

The front-row rotation is somewhat of a mystery, but I have Blake Lawrie and Zane Musgrove starting up front.

Michael Molo could easily find himself on the bench, along with recruit Ben Murdoch-Masila. Francis Molo is also unavailable for the first two rounds due to suspension but will be considered on return.

Embed from Getty Images

South Sydney Rabbitohs

1. Latrell Mitchell
2. Izaac Thompson
3. Isaiah Tass
4. Campbell Graham
5. Alex Johnston
6. Cody Walker
7. Lachlan Ilias
8. Hame Sele
9. Damien Cook
10. Tevita Tatola
11. Keaon Koloamatangi
12. Jai Arrow
13. Cameron Murray

14. Blake Taaffe
15. Tom Burgess
16. Davvy Moale
17. Jacob Host

Team news:

The backline looks straight forward for Round 1, however the return of Taane Milne in Round 2 may throw a spanner in the works.

Siliva Havili is out for an extended period with injury, meaning Blake Taaffe and Peter Mamouzelos are the likely contenders for the 14 role, if they weren’t already.

I have Taaffe in front, which would see Damien Cook locked into an 80 minute role.

Edge back-rower Ben Lovett has impressed in the pre-season and will push for a bench spot.

Hame Sele is in doubt for the opening rounds, which should open up minutes for Davvy Moale.

Embed from Getty Images

Sydney Roosters

1. James Tedesco
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Joseph Manu
4. Joseph Suaalii
5. Jaxson Paulo
6. Luke Keary
7. Sam Walker
8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
9. Brandon Smith
10. Matt Lodge
11. Egan Butcher
12. Nat Butcher
13. Victor Radley

14. Jake Turpin
15. Tyrell May
16. Lindsay Collins
17. Siua Wong

Team news:

With Joseph Suaalii tipped to make the move to centre, this will leave Paul Momirovski and Jaxson Paulo fighting for the right wing spot, with the latter expected to win.

The injury to Connor Watson will see Jake Turpin come onto the bench, which will also likely mean Brandon Smith spends more time as a middle forward.

Highly regarded rookie Siua Wong may sneak onto the bench, but faces competition from a number of players including Tyrell May, Fletcher Baker, Naufahu Whyte.

Angus Crichton is out indefinitely due to personal reasons, with Egan Butcher expected to join brother Nat on the edge.

Either Matt Lodge or Lindsay Collins will start at prop, either way it shouldn’t impact minutes too significantly.

Embed from Getty Images

Wests Tigers

1. Daine Laurie
2. Junior Tupou
3. Tommy Talau
4. Brent Naden
5. David Nofoaluma
6. Adam Doueihi
7. Luke Brooks
8. Stefano Utoikamanu
9. Api Koroisau
10. David Klemmer
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. John Bateman
13. Joe Ofahengaue

14. Jake Simpkin
15. Fonua Pole
16. Shawn Blore
17. Alex Twal

Team news:

Daine Laurie is likely to play fullback, although there’s been chat of Charlie Staines leaping into that spot, but I don’t think so.

David Nofoaluma and Junior Tupou/Charlie Staines are expected to play on the wings, Staines may be the unlucky man left out in the back three, while the centre position is a lottery.

Ken Maumalo was injured in week two of NRL trials

Brent Naden, Asu Kepaoa, Tommy Talau, and Starford To’a could play there in round 1. I suspect Naden will be the one locked in along with Talau.

There’s rumours John Bateman will play 13. I don’t like it, but that’s the word. He arrived late from the UK and missed the pre-season, so he may even be eased in off the bench.

If he did, it’d mean Shawn Blore or Alex Seyfarth would likely start on the edge.

However, I’ve got Bateman on the edge for now, with Joe Ofahengaue at lock.

The smokey at lock is Justin Matamua as he could be their answer to a ball-playing lock that they lack with Jackson Hastings gone.

Let’s just reassess come Team List Tuesday because there are a few questions to be answered.

One Response to “NRL 2023: Predicted Round 1 team line-up”

  1. bremanila

    A few rumors that Angus Crichton is going to miss a large part of the season. If so – who gets that spot on the left edge???Egan Butcher is one option but so is Josh Wong. Both young guns with loads of upside. Anyone else an option?

Leave a Reply