The One New Zealand Warriors play their first game in Wellington since round 18, 2019 when a Blake Green field goal gave them a 19-18 win over the Sharks.
After a long stint away from home due to the COVID pandemic, the Warriors can expect huge support at Sky Stadium on Friday night and then at Mt Smart for clashes against the Bulldogs (round 4), Cowboys (round 7) and Roosters (round 9).
With new coach Andrew Webster at the helm and a number of key signings, the Warriors will look to hit the ground running as they look to return to the finals for the first time since 2018.
The Knights have plenty of experience coming on board through Adam Elliott and Jackson Hastings, while Kalyn Ponga moves closer to the action at five-eighth and his combination with former Tiger Hastings will be critical to Newcastle's chances of climbing the ladder from 14th last year.
One thing the Knights have done well in recent times is start fast, having won their past five Round 1 games, against the Roosters in 2022, Bulldogs in 2021, Warriors in 2020, Sharks in 2019 and Sea Eagles in 2018.
Match: Warriors v Knights
Round 1 -
Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-KlokstadFullback for Knights is number 1 Lachlan Miller
Winger for Warriors is number 5 Marcelo MontoyaWinger for Knights is number 2 Hymel Hunt
Centre for Warriors is number 3 Brayden WiliameCentre for Knights is number 3 Enari Tuala
Centre for Warriors is number 4 Adam PompeyCentre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
Winger for Warriors is number 23 Edward KosiWinger for Knights is number 5 Dominic Young
Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Te Maire MartinFive-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Kalyn Ponga
Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Knights is number 7 Jackson Hastings
Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-BlakeProp for Knights is number 8 Daniel Saifiti
Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde EganHooker for Knights is number 9 Jayden Brailey
Prop for Warriors is number 10 Mitchell BarnettProp for Knights is number 10 Jacob Saifiti
2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Jackson Ford2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Marata Niukore2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
Lock for Warriors is number 13 Tohu HarrisLock for Knights is number 13 Kurt Mann
Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Dylan WalkerInterchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Bunty AfoaInterchange for Knights is number 15 Adam Elliott
Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Josh CurranInterchange for Knights is number 16 Jack Hetherington
Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Tom AleInterchange for Knights is number 17 Leo Thompson
Replacement for Warriors is number 20 Freddy LussickReplacement for Knights is number 18 Jack Johns
- Referee: Chris Sutton
- Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Senior Review Official: Ben Cummins
One New Zealand Warriors: Star recruits Marata Niukore, Dylan Walker, Mitch Barnett, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Te Maire Martin headline a new-look Warriors team. Centre Brayden Wiliame has been named to play his first NRL game since round 18, 2021 following a stint in French rugby. Former Dragon Jackson Ford makes his club debut in the back row alongside Niukore.
Knights: After playing just 40 minutes at five-eighth during the Pre-Season Challenge, Kalyn Ponga steps out in the No.6 at NRL level for the first time since round 3, 2019. Ponga teams with new recruit Jackson Hastings in the halves and Lachlan Miller makes his club debut at fullback. Centre Dane Gagai (hamstring) will miss the game, his place taken by Enari Tuala, who has recovered from a pectoral injury. Adam Elliott (ankle) and Jack Hetherington (shoulder) are good to go on the bench. Phoenix Crossland has grabbed the No.14 role and former Bronco Tyson Gamble is listed among the reserves.
The Knights have won only two of their past 14 games in New Zealand.
Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has scored eight tries in his past 10 games against the Knights.
The Knights won their first two matches in 2022 and the Warriors lost their first two.
The Warriors (70) and Knights (70) were 13th and 14th on the tryscoring list in 2022, well behind big guns Melbourne (121), Parramatta (120) and Souths (120).
This will be the first time in 25 years and just the third time in their history that the Warriors have opened an NRL campaign on a Friday night.