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New ambitions, new faces and a renewed sense of expectation from fans of all 16 teams, the 2009 season kicks off this weekend.
It was inevitable that the Broncos would eventually have to deal with life after Wayne Bennett and after 20 years, they finally have their first competitive match without the super coach. Brisbane will need to rely heavily on the experience of Lockyer, Hunt and the recently recruited Israel Folau with three players (Jharal Yow Yeh, Alex Glenn and Antonio Winterstein) making their debuts on Friday night. In contrast, the Cowboys are bursting with stars through the 1-7, and have recruited well to strengthen their forward pack. Sam Thaiday and Joel Clinton in particular will need to have big games if the Broncos are to give Ivan Henjak a win in his first match as head coach.
BRONCOS: 1. Karmichael Hunt 2. Antonio Winterstein 3. Alex Glenn 4. Israel Folau 5. Jharal Yow Yeh 6. Darren Lockyer (c) 7. Peter Wallace 8. Nick Kenny 9. Aaron Gorrell 10. Joel Clinton 11. Sam Thaiday 12. Ben Te'o 13. Corey Parker Interchange: 14. Andrew McCullough 15. Lagi Setu 16. David Taylor 17. Steve Michaels; Reserves: 18. Ashton Sims 19. Aaron Sweeney 20. Josh McGuire COWBOYS: 1. Matt Bowen 2. Ty Williams 3. Ashley Graham 4. Willie Tonga 5. Ben Farrar 6. Travis Burns 7. Johnathan Thurston (c) 8. Carl Webb 9. Aaron Payne 10. Antonio Kaufusi 11. Manase Manuokafoa 12. Ben Harris 13. Luke O