The 2022 NRL season draw is out and coaches, players and fans across the nation have been scanning through, working out what lies ahead for their teams, as they look to start the season with as many victories as possible.
The draw has thrown up some monumental clashes. We've picked out the best of them in our must-see games of the opening five rounds.
ROUND 1 - Thursday March 10 - Sunday March 13
* Panthers vs Sea Eagles, BlueBet Stadium, Penrith, Thursday March 10 - 8:05pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: The 2021 Premiers open their new season at home in front of a packed and adoring crowd against a team which rose above expectations last year. Nathan Cleary is battling injury to return in time for this clash, adding more intrigue as the Sea Eagles will be keen to exploit any weaknesses in the Panthers' armor. Can Tom Trbojevic and his Sea Eagles make the long trip to Penrith and come away with the opening points of the season?
Raiders vs Sharks, GIO Stadium, Canberra, Friday March 11 - 6pm (AEDT)
* Broncos vs Rabbitohs, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Friday March 11 - 8:05pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: Will there be a bigger headline for the start of the 2022 season than the clash between the Broncos' new halfback Adam Reynolds and the club he loved and left behind? South Sydney Rabbitohs fans were completely stunned last year when the club decided it was willing to let Reynolds go. The Bunnies went on to fall agonisingly short of winning the premiership with Reynolds leading the way. In Round 1 they will find out, at least in the short term, whether they made the right decision in letting the champion halfback go.
Roosters vs Knights, Sydney Cricket Ground, Saturday March 12, 3pm (AEDT)
Warriors vs Dragons, Sunshine Coast Stadium, Saturday March 12, 5:30pm (AEDT)
Tigers vs Storm, CommBank Stadium, Parramatta, Saturday March 12, 7:35pm (AEDT)
Eels vs Titans, CommBank Stadium, Parramatta, Sunday March 13, 4:05pm (AEDT)
Cowboys vs Bulldogs, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Sunday March 13, 6:15pm (AEDT)
ROUND 2 - Thursday March 17 - Sunday March 20
* Storm vs Rabbitohs, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Thursday March 17 8:05pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: The Storm were disappointed to miss out on another Grand Final appearance last year, falling to the Panthers at the last hurdle. The Rabbitohs played in the big dance, but also failed to topple the Panthers. This game will provide a great indication of how these two teams will back up after last year, with some key personnel changes to throw into the mix. There should be a big home crowd to greet the Storm after a couple of seasons with limited opportunities for the Melbourne faithful to show their support.
Dragons vs Panthers, Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Friday March 18, 6pm (AEDT)
* Roosters vs Sea Eagles, Central Coast Stadium, Gosford, Friday March 18, 8:05pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: Many felt that Dally M Medal-winning Sea Eagles fullback Tom Trbojevic had surpassed Roosters fullback James Tedesco and deserved the Blues No.1 State of Origin jersey last year. Tedesco showed through the Origin series and deep into the NRL season that there is still life left in his elusive legs. There is certainly still plenty of life left in the best fullback debate, and this game provides an early glimpse at the ongoing battle between these two superstars of the game.
Titans vs Warriors, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, Saturday March 19, 3pm (AEDT)
* Sharks vs Eels, PointsBet Stadium, Cronulla, Saturday March 19, 5:30pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: The Sharks return to Shark Park after spending two years in the wilderness while the adjoining leagues club underwent a major redevelopment. After playing the Raiders in Canberra in Round 1, they will be keen to find themselves on home soil for this test against one of the competition heavyweights. With a new coach and some big signings, the Sharks will be hoping for a big year as they look to rebuild a reputation of being very hard to beat at home.
Cowboys vs Raiders, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Saturday March 19, 7:35pm (AEDT)
Knights vs Tigers, McDonald Jones Stadium, Sunday March 20, 4:05pm (AEDT)
* Bulldogs vs Broncos, Stadium Australia, Sunday March 20, 4:05pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: As much as I hesitate to mention the Broncos again AND talk up their clash with the 2021 wooden spooners, this game will give an early indication of just how 2022 and beyond will go for these two proud but struggling clubs. Both teams will have a coach in his second season at the club, and both have undergone some major player movements. This will be a real test of the coaching credibility of Trent Barrett and Kevin Walters, as they look to mould the teams they have built into competitive units.
Round 3 - Thursday March 24 - Sunday March 27
Dragons vs Sharks, WIN Stadium, Thursday March 24, 8:05pm (AEDT)
Tigers vs Warriors, Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Friday March 25, 6pm (AEDT)
* Rabbitohs vs Roosters, Stadium Australia, Friday March 25, 8:05pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: You can't tell me the boffins at NRL headquarters didn't count down the weeks left on Latrell Mitchell's suspension when working out when to schedule this monumental clash. As if the "Book of Feuds" wasn't storied enough between these two arch enemies. Mitchell will return to take on his old club after serving a suspension for nearly decapitating Joseph Manu the last time they met. It promises to be a fiery encounter, as clashes between these two almost always are.
Panthers vs Knights, Carrington Park, Bathurst, Saturday March 26, 3pm (AEDT)
* Storm vs Eels, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Saturday March 26, 5:30pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: The Eels would have been disappointed with how they finished off 2021 after being a Top 4 threat all season. They beat the Storm twice during the regular season, but didn't have a chance to repeat the dose in the finals. They will be very keen to maintain their recent dominance over the high-flying Storm, in Melbourne.
Raiders vs Coast Titans, GIO Stadium, Saturday March 26, 7:35pm (AEDT)
Broncos vs Cowboys, Suncorp Stadium, Sunday March 27, 4:05pm (AEDT)
* Sea Eagles vs Bulldogs, 4 Pines Park, Sunday March 27, 6:16pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: Another clash made more interesting because of the coaches involved. Let's not forget that Trent Barrett was dumped by the Sea Eagles in order to welcome Des Hasler back to the club. Hasler left the Bulldogs in a salary cap shambles to make his return to Manly. Now Barrett takes his re-built Bulldogs side, bristling with backline talent, but no real spine, into Brookvale, seeking revenge. If the Sea Eagles spank them like they did last year, rumblings will start from the Bulldogs fans about Barrett's true capabilities.
Round 4 - Thursday March 31 - Sunday April 3
* Titans vs Tigers, Cbus Super Stadium, Thursday March 31, 9:05pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: These two teams always seem to be in the mix to sneak into the Top 8 at some point in the season, as the Titans did at the end of last year. The poor old Tigers haven't played finals football since Benji was a lad and by Round 4 we should have a good idea on how they will fair in 2022. If Tigers coach Michael Maguire is still in the job, he'll be keen to grab the two points off the Titans in this clash of two evenly matched and equally frustrating sides.
Sharks vs Knights, PointsBet Stadium, Cronulla, Friday April 1, 6pm (AEDT)
* Panthers vs Rabbitohs, BlueBet Stadium, Friday April 1, 8:05pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: I know it's April Fool's Day, but that's not the reason I'm naming a fourth-straight Rabbitohs game as a stand-out, this is the Grand Final replay after all. By Round 4 we should have a fairly good idea how the post-Wayne Bennett Rabbitohs are travelling with their new halfback. I fully expect the Panthers to be impressive again early and this should be a great clash between two of the top teams.
Warriors vs Broncos, Moreton Daily Stadium, Saturday April 2, 3pm (AEDT)
* Sea Eagles vs Raiders, Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee, Saturday April 2, 5:30pm (AEDT)
What makes this a stand-out: Des Hasler's Sea Eagles up against Ricky Stuart's Raiders in Mudgee? There's plenty to like about this clash, as the NRL continues to make good on its promise to take big games to the bush. Many believe Canberra's short premiership window has closed, with plenty of rumblings from within the dressing shed last season. We should know by this game whether Stuart has turned things around or whether the axe is hovering over his coaching tenure at the Raiders.
Cowboys vs Roosters, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Saturday April 2, 5:30pm (AEDT)
Storm vs Bulldogs, AAMI Park, Sunday April 3, 4:05pm (AEST)
Eels vs Dragons, CommBank Stadium, Sunday April 3, 6:16pm (AEST)
Round 5 - Thursday April 7 - Sunday April 10
* Knights vs Sea Eagles, McDonald Jones Stadium, Thursday April 7, 7:50pm (AEST)
What makes this a stand-out: Clashes between these two clubs have been used as promotional material for rugby league for years. There is something about the steel city lads taking on the Northern Beaches' silver spoons that brings out the fire. Add to that the clash between superstar fullbacks Kalyn Poga and Tom Trbojevic and you have yourself a must-see NRL clash.
Warriors vs Cowboys, Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe, Friday April 8, 6pm (AEST)
* Broncos vs Roosters, Suncorp Stadium, Friday April 8, 7:55pm (AEST)
What makes this a stand-out: I fully expect a much-improved Broncos side, led by Adam Reynolds, to be positioned in the Top 8 by the time this big test rolls around. This game could mark the point from which they either charge on towards a finals berth or fall apart to resemble the unruly rabble we saw at times last season. The Roosters will be keen to bring them back down to earth, setting up an intriguing clash.
* Canberra vs Storm, McDonalds Park, Wagga Wagga, Saturday April 9, 3pm (AEST)
What makes this a stand-out: Another big clash taken to the bush, with this game set to be one of the best of the early rounds. but only if Ricky Stuart has his Raiders up and running. The Storm have several positional changes to bed in themselves and it wouldn't surprise to see both teams struggling a little at the beginning of the year.
Rabbitohs vs Dragons, Stadium Australia, Saturday April 9, 5:30pm (AEST)
Titans vs Eels, Cbus Super Stadium, Saturday April 9, 7:35pm (AEST)
Sharks vs Tigers, PointsBet Stadium, Sunday April 10, 4:05pm (AEST)
Bulldogs vs Panthers, CommBank Stadium, Sunday April 10, 6:15pm (AEST)