1 Can Kieran Foran save the Eels?
All eyes will be on Parramatta's new No.7, Kieran Foran, who will lead his side out against Brisbane to start the season on Thursday. Foran has been troubled by an ongoing hamstring injury, which has hampered his pre-season and combination with halves partner Corey Norman. The Eels are confident after their Auckland Nines success and will get a good chance to show how far they have come in the off-season when they take on last year's grand finalists.
2 How much will the Broncos miss Justin Hodges?
Former Broncos skipper Hodges has been an ever-present player in the Broncos back-line in recent years. He retired at the end of last year's grand final loss to North Queensland. Corey Parker steps up as captain, but the Broncos have recruited excitement machine James Roberts to replace Hodges at centre. The pair have completely different style of play, with Hodges more robust while Roberts has sleek footwork. Brisbane halves Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt will need to give Roberts early ball in space.
3 Will the new-looks Sea Eagles gel?
Manly have the largest turnover of any club this season. Players in key positions too, with a new-look halves pairing of Dylan Walker and Daly Cherry-Evans. The Sea Eagles hope Api Koroisau and Matt Parcell will be right to interchange at hooker while there are doubts about veteran fullback Brett Stewart (hamstring). The match will be Trent Barrett's first as an NRL coach and he will do so against former Manly mentor Des Hasler.
4 How will Canterbury's big men handle the new rules?
Canterbury have had the largest forward pack in the history of the game in recent seasons. David Klemmer might be suspended and Frank Pritchard is in England, but the Bulldogs still have a host of big men. The likes of Klemmer, Sam Kasiano and Greg Eastwood have trimmed down in preparation of the reduced interchange and the introduction of various shot clocks to speed up games. Question marks also surround the Bulldogs halves, with Moses Mbye replacing Trent Hodkinson permanently to partner Josh Reynolds.
5 Will the Panthers' injury curse continue?
The Panthers spine of Matt Moylan, Jamie Soward, Peter Wallace and James Segeyaro barely played alongside each other last year, with the quartet all sidelined with injuries at various stages. Already Moylan is back on the injured list after hurting his back in the Panthers' trial. It is expected to sideline the newly-appointed Panthers skipper for a month. Soward and Wallace are also under pressure from rookie Te Maire Martin to retain their spots when they play the Raiders.
6 Any success hangover for the Cowboys?
First it was the NRL title, next it was the World Club Challenge, the Cowboys are the undisputed champions of the rugby league world. What impact that will have on the side is yet to be seen. They fielded a new full-strength side at the Auckland Nines before a star-studded roster headed to England to play Leeds. There is plenty of buzz around the Cowboys, and having claimed their first premiership last season, the Cowboys will need to rise again.