Penrith begins its premiership defence without captain Nathan Cleary when it takes on Manly tonight.
Clearly is expected to miss the first three weeks of the season after suffering a set back in his recovery from a shoulder injury.
Ivan Cleary got the Panthers first premiership since 1991 and it means the Panthers are now favoured to make it back-to-back.
But this game is going to prove tough without their champion half-back given how ominous the Sea Eagles looked in the trials.
The omission of Cleary opens the door for Manly to pounce on the season-opener as it looks to do a few better than its preliminary final loss in 2021.
For Manly, it all systems go ahead of Thursday night.
Dally M medallist Tom Trbojevic will be looking to improve on what was one of the greatest individuals seasons ever seen in NRL history.
Trbojevic was amazing last season and he showed no signs of slowing down heading into the 2022 pre-season.
“Turbo Tom” took the mickey in Manly’s pre-season trial games as he set up try after try.
Point-scoring machine Rueben Garrick and try-scoring maestro Jason Saab are both going to be super dangerous in this clash.
How Panthers lock Isaah Yeo deals with Jake Trbojevic is going to be integral part of this game.
Gaining those vitals yards in the clinches will be key.
Both teams tackle like mad men and we expect a tighter defensive display from Penrith as they deal with life without Cleary.
This is going to be a brutal clash, but Manly has the momentum and health gong into this Round 1 clash.
Suggested Bets: Manly -1.5 at $1.86
Suggested Same Game Multi:
Leg 1: Manly -1.5
Leg 2 Total points under 41.5
Leg 3: T. Trbojevic anytime try
Combined odds = $6