Match preview: Panthers v Broncos

Defending premiers Penrith will launch their quest for a third premiership on Friday night when they host the Broncos in Round 1 at BlueBet Stadium.

Both sides have been in the headlines over the summer with star players already sorting out their futures elsewhere in 2024 with coaches Ivan Cleary and Kevin Walters sure to want the focus to being back on the field. 

Penrith's golden point loss in the World Club Challenge to St Helens less than a fortnight ago will sting the two-time champions, who will officially start life without the services of Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau. 

Brisbane's Pre-season Challenge form looked promising in clashes against the Titans and Cowboys but it was the side's slide down the Telstra Premiership ladder in the second half of the season last year that will provide all the motivation.

The battle of the forwards - particularly through the middle with Payne Haas and Pat Carrigan taking on James Fisher-Harris and Isaah Yeo - is a big drawcard, while halves Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary will want to make an early statement.

Team news
Panthers: World Cup winner Liam Martin (knee) and Clive Churchill Medalist Dylan Edwards (hamstring) are both good to go for the season opener. Eleven members of the starting 13 from last year's grand final will line up against the Broncos. The season-ending injury to Taylan May sees Sunia Turuva start on the wing in Round 1 and permanently if he can cement the spot in the early rounds. Former Tiger Luke Garner fills the left edge spot vacated by Viliame Kikau while Soni Luke comes off the bench to back up Mitch Kenny at hooker. Matt Eisenhuth, Tyrone Peachey and Lindsay Smith were omitted from the extended squad 24 hours before kick-off.

Broncos: Kevin Walters has a relatively settled 17 for the club's season opener with the exception of fullback Reece Walsh, who is nursing a fractured eye socket. Selwyn Cobbo moves to fullback and Jesse Arthars comes onto the wing in his return to the club after a season with the Warriors. Cory Paix's impressive start to the year has earned him a spot on the bench alongside Keenan Palasia, Thomas Flegler and Martin Taupau in his Broncos debut. Xavier Willison, Jock Madden and Delouise Hoeter were cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

Click here to read full article

Story first published on: