New Zealand connections - including Kiwi centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall (pictured) - will be in plentiful supply when the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs ignite the 2013 NRL season at Allianz Stadium tonight (8.05pm kick-off; 10.05pm NZ time). Photo: Photosport.


The Roosters have Kiwi centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Junior Kiwi Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on the wing in their backline, Kiwis Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Frank-Paul Nuuausala plus former Mangere East Hawks junior Sam Moa in their starting forwards and Sonny Bill Williams and Tinirau Arona on the bench.


And the Rabbitohs can point to Kiwi hooker Issac Luke, former Kiwi captain Roy Asotasi at prop, Auckland-born Queensland Origin forward Ben Teo in the second row and ex-Kiwis Jeff Lima and Bryson Goodwin on the bench.


The teams for this weeks first-round matches are (local kick-off times listed):


Thursday, March 7, 8:05pm

Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Allianz Stadium

Roosters: Anthony Minichiello (c), Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Aubusson, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Martin Kennedy, Sonny Bill Williams, Luke ODonnell, Boyd Cordner, Michael Oldfield, Tinirau Arona

Rabbitohs: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Dylan Farrell, Beau Champion, Andrew Everingham, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Sam Burgess, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Te'o, Ben Lowe. Interchange: Nathan Peats, Michael Crocker (c), Jeff Lima, George Burgess, Dave Tyrrell, Jason Clark, Bryson Goodwin

Referees: Ben Cummins and Chris James


Friday, March 8, 7:05pm

Brisbane Broncos v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

Suncorp Stadium

Broncos: Corey Norman, Josh Hoffman, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Lachlan Maranta, Scott Prince, Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Sam Thaiday (c), Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Ben Hannant, Mitchell Dodds, David Stagg, Scott Anderson

Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Richie Fa'aoso, Joe Galuvao, David Gower, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Peta Hiku, George Rose

Referees: Shayne Hayne and Alan Shortall


Saturday, March 9, 5:30pm

Parramatta Eels v Vodafone Warriors

Parramatta Stadium

Eels: Jarryd Hayne, Ken Sio, Ryan Morgan, Jacob Loko, Cheyse Blair, Luke Kelly, Chris Sandow, Darcy Lussick, Matt Keating, Tim Mannah, Reni Maitua, Ben Smith, Joseph Paulo. Interchange: Ben Roberts, Fuifui Moimoi, Mitchell Allgood, Matthew Ryan

Vodafone Warriors: Kevin Locke, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Elijah Taylor, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ben Henry, Jacob Lillyman, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Pita Godinet, Steve Rapira, Charlie Gubb

Referees: Jared Maxwell and Adam Gee


Saturday, March 9, 7.30pm

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys

Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium

Bulldogs: Steve Turner, Drury Low, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (c), Martin Taupau, Tony Williams, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange: Dene Halatau, Dale Finucane, Tim Browne, David Klemmer, Mitch Brown

Cowboys: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston (c), Ray Thompson, Matt Scott (c), Scott Moore, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Rory Kostjasyn, Ashton Sims, Tariq Sims, Jason Taumalolo, Scott Bolton, Robert Lui

Referees: Jason Robinson and Gavin Morris


Sunday, March 10, 2.00pm

Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders

Centrebet Stadium

Panthers: Dean Whare, Josh Mansour, Wes Naiqama, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Lachlan Coote, Luke Walsh, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston (c), Tim Grant, Sika Manu, Lewis Brown, Nathan Smith. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Nigel Plum, Clint Newton, Jeremy Latimore, Adam Docker.

Raiders: Reece Robinson, Sandor Earl, Jack Wighton, Blake Ferguson, Edrick Lee, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington (c), Shaun Berrigan, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Matt McIlwrick, Joel Edwards, Mark Nicholls, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Brett White (c)

Referees: Adam Devcich and Henry Perenara


Sunday, March 10, 3.00pm

Melbourne Storm v St George Illawarra Dragons

AAMI Park

Storm: Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Will Chambers, Justin O'Neill, Mahe Fonua, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Tohu Harris, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Jason Ryles, Lagi Setu, Siosaia Vave, Junior Moors, Brett Finch

Dragons: Gerard Beale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Nathan Fien, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Michael Weyman, Tyson Frizell, Ben Creagh (c), Trent Merrin. Interchange: Bronson Harrison, Leeson Ah Mau, Matt Prior, Cameron King, Jack Stockwell

Referees: Matt Cecchin and Luke Phillips


Sunday, March 10, 6.30pm

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Gold Coast Titans

Sharks Stadium

Sharks: Michael Gordon, Jonathan Wright, Ricky Leutele, Matthew Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen (c). Interchange: Chris Heighington, Jon Green, John Morris, Anthony Tupou, Jayson Bukuya, Mark Taufua, Chad Townsend

Titans: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Brad Takairangi, Jamal Idris, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Ben Ridge, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Dave Taylor, Luke Bailey, Ryan James, Beau Falloon, Luke O'Dwyer

Referees: Ashley Klein and Phil Haines


Monday, March 11, 7.00pm

Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers

Hunter Stadium

Knights: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Anthony Quinn, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Kurt Gidley (c), Kade Snowden, Travis Waddell, Willie Mason, Beau Scott, Chris Houston, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Tyrone Roberts, Neville Costigan, Robbie Rochow, Alex McKinnon, David Faalogo

Tigers: Tim Moltzen, Marika Koroibete, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Matt Utai, Benji Marshall, Jacob Miller, Jack Buchanan, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Braith Anasta, Liam Fulton, Adam Blair. Interchange: Matt Bell, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Bodene Thompson, Eddy Pettybourne, Joel Reddy, Aaron Woods

Referees: Gerard Sutton and Brett Suttor