Kalyn Ponga, Wayne Bennett and Shaun Johnson are all big talking points heading into 2019.
Kalyn Ponga, Wayne Bennett and Shaun Johnson are all big talking points heading into 2019.

Buzz: 50 things to look forward to in 2019

This column is today a scandal-free zone. No sexual assault allegations, no salary cap rorts.

We've had enough. Here are the 50 things I'm desperately hanging out for when the NRL starts in 24 more sleeps.

1. Future superstar Kalyn Ponga's switch to five-eighth and more touches of the football.

2. Ricky Stuart's sideline madness and his first press conference blow-up with the Raiders.

3. Anthony Seibold v Wayne Bennett: Round 8, May 2, ANZ Stadium.

4. The grand opening of the new Bankwest Stadium on Easter Monday when the Eels host the Wests Tigers. That roar as Timmy Mannah leads Parra out of the tunnel.

5. The next batch of rookies. Keep an eye on Dylan Brown at Parramatta. He is a freak. And Bronson Xerri at the Sharks. And of course Jake Clifford at the Cowboys.

6. Greg Inglis. Can the old champion last a full season and recapture his best form?

7. State of Origin, Freddy Fittler and another Blues series victory. More of Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr on the left side.

8. The brilliant but enigmatic Shaun Johnson in new colours.

9. Cameron Smith's 400th game. He needs to play another 16 to reach a milestone that will never be challenged.



10. The extraordinary power and strength of Jason Taumalolo at the Cowboys and Michael Morgan recapturing his 2017 finals form.

11. Damien Cook's shots out of dummy half on the back of the Burgess brothers.

12. The first State of Origin game at the magnificent new Optus Stadium in Perth, which will show everyone in NSW the value of stadium investment.

13. The hill at Leichhardt Oval. Benji and Robbie. Round one versus the Manly Sea Eagles.

14. More fairness in the refereeing appointments, no nepotism and less of the Sutton triplets.

15. Another year of Ray Warren and those beautiful dulcet tones.

16. Dave Klemmer against his old club the Canterbury Bulldogs, May 9, round 11.

17. Another Blake Ferguson backflip.

18. Less nitpicking, lower penalty counts and more free-flowing footy.

19. The pressure and speculation on Dean Pay, Brad Arthur and Nathan Brown at the Dogs, Eels and Knights respectively.

20. Can John Morris do a Phil Gould and Trent Robinson to win a premiership in his first season?

21. Rugby league's return to the beautiful old Sydney Cricket Ground. Just remember to take your binoculars.

22. The first player to say: "Full credit to the boys."

23. The first coach to say: "They were more hungry than us."

24. The madness of Fletch and Hindy on The Matty Johns Show. The Professor and Barney.

25. The wonderful batch of young Broncos forwards. Pangai Jr, Fifita and co.


Tevita Pangai Junior is ready to explode.
Tevita Pangai Junior is ready to explode.


26. Cameron Murray at the South Sydney Rabbitohs. The game's next big thing.

27. Eight games, one venue in the magic weekend of footy at Suncorp Stadium in May.

28. Bulldog Ritchie's first story on an Origin "bolter" before round two.

29. Anzac Day, Roosters v Dragons. My favourite game, even more so than State of Origin.

30. Billy Kikau and those storming left-edge surges at the Panthers. He's one of my favourite players.

31. The battle between the great old rivals Canterbury and Parramatta to avoid the wooden spoon.

32. Madge Maguire at the Wests Tigers adding discipline to a side with so much brilliance.

33. Gus Gould on Channel 9: "No, no, no, no, no."

34. Jack Bird recapturing his 2016 form in an injury-free season.

35. Ditto Kieran Foran. Can the 28-year-old rediscover his old Manly Sea Eagles magic and lift the Bulldogs into finals contention?


Kieran Foran needs a big season.
Kieran Foran needs a big season.

36. Ivan Cleary against the Wests Tigers, round four, April 5 at Panthers Stadium.

37. A possible Tonga v Kangaroos blockbuster at the end of the season.

38. Darius Boyd surviving without Wayne Bennett.

39. Corey Norman at the Dragons. Can he rejuvenate his career?

40. My first rugby league lecture of the season from Kenty on NRL 360. It's back on March 4.

41. Val Holmes returning to the Cronulla Sharks for the back-end of the season.

42. New head of football Graham Annesley and his Monday media briefings after a bad weekend.

43. Tom Trbojevic chiming into the Manly backline on a Sunday afternoon at Brookie.

44. The TV cameras on Craig Bellamy as he struggles with life after Billy Slater.

45. Big Marn, Erin, Bozo and Bolts with their stupidity and madness on the 2GB Continuous Call team.

46. Angus Crichton getting a better haircut for his round-one clash with the Rabbitohs.

47. A pie and a beer at Shark Park.

48. The World 9s tournament at the new Western Sydney Stadium in October.

49. Des Hasler's crazy press conferences after Manly lose a penalty count.

50. Let's all #NRLtalkthegamup.

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