I love the opening round. The buzz in the air walking into work on Monday, knowing it’s just three sleeps until life is on hold for the next six months as I take in all the action (just joking family!).
Then there's 'team-list-Tuesday', seeing the familiar faces and combinations on the sheets, and glimpsing regular starters on the bench or reserves, "Ooooh what happened there?" And the best, for mine, is reading about the rookies getting a run and Googling them up for a read about their history – Bubba Kennedy’s boy gets first crack at Sharks fullback! Reimis Smith moves in a spot for the Dogs! Mad!
Hump day lives up to its name. Come on bring it on already. Okay, I'll watch a couple team captain/coach pressers: "Full credit to the boys, we have trained so hard this pre-season and we can’t wait to get out there and rip in."
Yes, great, great, great – hurry up.
Finally, Thursday hits. Boom! What a feeling knowing my weekend is going to be spent laying-up on the lounge and yelling at the television – nice words only of course. And opening night usually means a pizza feed too. Double boom!
Here’s a couple of my thoughts.
The Roosters won’t go three in a row, despite rolling out another superstar roster which will also include Josh Morris. Last year they were terrific, but the Raiders had their chances to get them in the big one. Last I will ever say on that match …
My heart, of course, says Canberra can go one better. The defensive steel is there, there appears to be solid depth, hunger, and in Curtis Scott and George Williams there’s some good strike. Jack Wighton will need another massive one, i'll back him.
Melbourne are Melbourne. They will be up there. They can also be out-Melbourne’d in the finals, but it takes a special effort. Do some of the other sides have that special effort in them on the day?
Barring injuries, I think the Sea Eagles will give it a massive shake. They were incredible last year, and could have been even more DES-tructive if things went a bit more their way in the finals.
The Bunnies round out my top five. Once Latrell settles into the ‘Blackline’ the points are going to flow. They could have beaten the Raiders in the Grand Final Qualifier, there was only a barnstorming Josh Papali’i in it.
There are great things to be said about all the sides, really. Some of the personnel switches have driven my interest through the roof: Joey Leilua to the Tigers, Valentine Holmes joins the North Queensland rodeo, the Adam O’Brien effect at Newcastle. Usually there are teams I’m not interested in watching, but I can’t say that this year.
For Over the Black Dot, we will talk about representative games as they come. But I think it’s definitely worth reminding everyone that the Blues are going for three straight series wins in BOTH the men’s and women’s formats in 2020.
Short and Sharp
I think Ash Taylor will bounce back. He’s my Indigenous player of the year, just nudging out Brisbane’s Kotoni Staggs. The Gold Coast team has a lot of potential on paper and I believe Ash and Tyrone Roberts will help steer them to a lot more wins this year.
Canberra win the comp, beating the Rabbitohs. Consistent Chooks or Storm minor premiers, with Warriors, awarded the spoon.
Mitch Moses to win the Dally M Medal and top point scorer, Fox most tries, Des Hasler coach of the year and Broncos likely win the Women’s Premiership again.
Of course, there’s going to be plenty of dramas, more people mucking up, coaches sacked and players moved on.
It’s going to be a terrific ride, and let’s not forget that at the pointy end is the Koori Knockout.
The only prediction I have for that one is it’s going to be an amazing weekend for the South Coast mob that did it so tough with the bushfires!
Over the Black Dot is back for another season starting Tuesday 17 March, 8.30pm LIVE on NITV. Join the conversation #OTBD