The expectations are high for the first time in several years at Newcastle as the club looks to erase the memory of three straight wooden spoons with a revamped roster led by major acquisitions Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga.
Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett has had to deal with plenty of off-field distractions in the summer months with the club’s salary cap investigation and five-eighth Blake Green’s abrupt departure to the Warriors.
The absence of Dylan Walker as he recovers from his leg operation will be hard for Manly to overcome in the early rounds.
A bumper crowd is likely to give the Sea Eagles a torrid reception at McDonald Jones Stadium.
McDonald Jones Stadium, Friday March 9, 6pm
Head-to-head: Played 48, Sea Eagles 31 wins, Knights 17 wins.
Last five games:
- Round 14, 2017; Manly Sea Eagles def. Newcastle Knights 18-14.
- Round 21, 2016; Manly Sea Eagles def. Newcastle Knights 36-14.
- Round 8, 2016; Manly Sea Eagles def. Newcastle Knights 26-10.
- Round 9, 2015; Manly Sea Eagles def. Newcastle Knights 30-10.
- Round 10, 2014; Manly Sea Eagles def. Newcastle Knights 15-14.
2017 points per game: Knights 17.8; Manly 22.5.
2017 points conceded per game: Knights 27; Manly 21.4.
Televised: Live on Fox League
This preview will be updated with team list news on Tuesday afternoon, with a full match preview to come on Wednesday.