Melbourne Storm predicted Round 1 line-up

The Telstra Premiership winners certainly didn't get through their grand final win unscathed, losing long-serving star halfback Cooper Cronk to the Roosters, Kangaroos prop Jordan McLean to the Cowboys and Kiwi Test back-rower Tohu Harris to the Warriors.

Up-and-comer Brodie Croft looks set to beat a host of worthy candidates to the vacant No.7 jersey while returning fan favourite Ryan Hoffman looks a straight swap for Harris. expert Jamie Soward says:

"This could be the year we finally see someone go back-to-back. Everyone will talk about the change from Cooper Cronk to Brodie Croft but you've still got Cameron Smith and Billy Slater, around them guys like Will Chambers and Ryan Hoffman coming back, and they pick up a guy like Sam Kasiano. There's no real weakness in this side.

"The only change from week to week is around the bench if someone's not performing. Croft will obviously have questions asked of his early on in the year but from everything we've seen of him he's a Cooper Cronk clone. Melbourne are looking formidable heading into the 2018 season.

"This year they handled the Origin period really well – can they handle that again? I know Slater isn't playing but these young guys will be playing a full season this time, not just coming in for three or four games."'s predicted Round 1 team:

1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Curtis Scott, 4 Will Chambers, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Tim Glasby, 11 Ryan Hoffman, 12 Felise Kaufusi, 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 15 Kenny Bromwich, 16 Sam Kasiano, 17 Christian Welch. Reserves: 18 Joe Stimson, 19 Patrick Kaufusi, 20 Cheyse Blair, 21 Tui Kamikamica.