David Klemmer's battle against Sharks rival Andrew Fifita will be key to this clash.
David Klemmer's battle against Sharks rival Andrew Fifita will be key to this clash. DARREN PATEMAN/AAP PHOTOS

BEHIND THE SPORTS DESK: Throwing darts at the NRL wheel

RUGBY LEAGUE: After what has felt like one of the longest pre-seasons in memory, the NRL is finally about to kick off in under a week's time.

It is already shaping up as one of the toughest seasons to pick, with plenty of off-season player and coaching movements throwing more than a spanner or two into the works.

But on the eve of the season, Moose and Pottsy dissect the dilemma and give you their predictions on Premiers, wooden spooners and who will be the best buys.

MOOSE ELKERTON: Browny's built the squad, now's the time to fire

WE'RE less than a week out from the kick-off of the NRL season, and with so much focus on off-field scandals this pre-season, it's hard to know who is going to cut the mustard when the action gets on-field.

Pre-season trials showed the fans absolutely nothing, with even the competition's bottom feeders Parramatta getting up for victory.

That win over arch rivals Penrith has not saved the Eels from being my team to take out the wooden spoon in 2019.

The blue and golds were a disappointment last season, and other than an ageing Blake Ferguson on the edge, coach Brad Arthur has done little to improve his squad.

I expect the Eels to add to the cutlery draw many more times before they add to the trophy cabinet.

As for an early Premiership favourite, I can't go past the Newcastle Knights.

And a lot of it has to do with my player buy of the season in David Klemmer.

There is no doubt this is the year that Nathan Brown has to fire. The club has shown faith in his rebuild process, and he now has the winning squad.

Too often the Knights were on the back foot last season, rendering halves Kalyn Ponga and Mitch Pearce useless.

But Klemmer changes that. His go forward will be a blessing for the side.

The same goes for Tim Glasby. His ability to find his feet quickly is rather undervalued in the NRL, but it won't be by his superstar halves.

They will make the finals, after that, anything can happen.

JARRARD 'POTTSY' POTTER: Bunnies ready to strike under master coach

FINALLY, it's less than a week until rugby league action takes place on the field, rather than off it, and I can't wait for kick-off for season 2019.

As is tradition, it's time to make some bold predictions about who will win and lose the league, as well as anoint a buy of the season.

2019 winners: South Sydney Rabbitohs

Their attack was on fire last season, and with Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker in the halves going from strength to strength. I will tip they'll continue to tear attacks apart with weapons such as Inglis, Gagai and Johnston. Their forwards are nothing to sneeze at either, and with Damien Cook taking on the mantle as the best hooker in the game, I'm tipping big things from Souths this season.

Buy of the year: Wayne Bennett

One thing the Rabbitohs have in their favour is the arrival of the master coach, Wayne Bennett. Given the chance to have a coach of his calibre and experience any club would be lucky to have Bennett on board. From all accounts, he has done little to tinker with the side's attacking flair, but has worked them hard in tightening up a defence that had gone wanting at times in 2018.

2019 wooden spoon: Canterbury Bulldogs

As a closet Doggies supporter it pains me to say it, but I'm not expecting big things from Canterbury this year (and neither do the bookies). Klemmer was a huge loss, and Foran's hamstring is a concern for a quality half who has played very little football recently.