Preview – Manly v Eels (Pirtek Stadium Friday 6th March 7.45pm)
These two teams are already great rivals, but you can add 20% to that rivalry tonight with Watmough running out as an Eels player for the first time.
I found his verbal jabs at Manly after he left a little mind boggling. But then again he has always had a big mouth and usually speaks before he thinks. We now refer to him as Dropmough or Twatmough.
Manly fans will be hoping he has one of those games where he drops the ball getting up to play it, or gives away silly penalties. Not the Watmough that can actually hurt us by running through the ruck with great leg speed on the back of a quick play-the-ball.
Watmough aside, both teams go into Round 1 with a new look about them.
Manly will welcome Willie Mason and Feleti Mateo to their forward pack. These are additions that I am excited about. Matai has succumbed to injury and his place will be taken by Clinton Gutherson at left centre, but I would not be surprised if he switched places with the larger frame of Cheyse Blair.
Other minor changes to Manly include Blake Leary and Luke Burgess as part of the forward rotation. Jamie Buhrer is still recovering from off-season surgery.
The Eels will see William Hopoate move from the wing to Fullback to replace the irreplaceable Jared Hayne. But Manly will be well aware of the threat Hopoate possesses at fullback after he spent some good time there in 2011 for Brett Stewart. Reece Robinson will make his debut for the Eels on the wing, which gives them some added pace and evasion out wide. They will also have a new centre pairing of Beau Champion and Brad Takairangi. Their forward pack looks more like it did last year, but with the addition of Watmough. Young Tepai Moeroa could be a real handful this year.
With plenty of new combinations on show, this is a really hard game to predict, especially being at Parramatta. This game could easily go either way, and I do not expect the margin to be much.
Much could depend on the head space of the Manly halves, and the attitude they bring to this game. If they are switched on and ready for battle, I think Manly will win.
Man of the match Jamie Lyon
What are your predictions?