Sydney Roosters favourites as NRL kicks-off on Thursday

James Gordon

World champions Sydney Roosters are the favourites to win this season’s NRL, which kicks off on Thursday.

The 2018 premiers, who beat Melbourne Storm 21-6 in the NRL Grand Final back in September, defeated Wigan to secure their fourth world title last month.

Led by former Super League coach Trent Robinson, the Roosters are 10/3 favourites with rugby league sponsors Betfred.

No clubs has won back-to-back Premierships since Brisbane Broncos in 1997/98, though one of those was the ill-fated Super League season.

The Broncos also won successive titles in 1992/93.

Melbourne are 7/1 second favourites as they start life without Billy Slater, with Brisbane and South Sydney (both 8/1) also fancied.

Rounding off the top eight according to the bookies are Penrith, Cronulla, St George-Illawarra and North Queensland.

The opening game of the season between Melbourne and Brisbane is live on Sky Sports Arena from 8.45am on Thursday.

On Friday, the Roosters take on the Rabbitohs again on Sky Sports Arena (8.45am), with Gold Coast’s clash with Canberra also televised live on Sky on Sunday (7.05am).

After an off-season filled with scandal, NRL chiefs will be hoping the talking starts on the pitch with a bang this weekend.