By Adrian McMurray (NRL.com)
NRL fans will be treated to host of local derbies on Sunday afternoons to begin 2016, with Sydney rivals to clash in the 4pm timeslot over the first five rounds of the season.
The 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership draw will be released exclusively on NRL.com this week, but NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg has revealed some key fixtures to be played during the opening weeks of the competition.
It's set to be a win for families, with some of the game's biggest rivals to face off on Sunday afternoons throughout March and April.
"We have certainly made an effort to ensure that some of our best match-ups and blockbusters are in family-friendly timeslots," Greenberg said.
"Whilst I don't want to give too much away, we will have a number of strong Sydney derbies on Sundays through the opening rounds of the Telstra Premiership.
"Both of our broadcast partners, Channel Nine and Fox Sports, have been fantastic through this process to ensure we have some great match-ups for our fans."
It won't just be those in the harbour city who will be able to experience these fixtures, with all 4pm Sunday games to be broadcast live in high definition on Channel Nine and streamed live to tablets and mobile devices on NRL Digital Pass.
Local rivals the Roosters and Rabbitohs will resume hostilities at Allianz Stadium in Round 1, with South Sydney welcoming back grand final hero Sam Burgess in what will be his first game in cardinal and myrtle since the 2014 NRL decider.
Stacked with a host of fresh faces and attacking talent, 2016 is an important year for both the Sharks and Dragons, with the sides to meet at Remondis Stadium in Round 2 in a fixture that saw 84 points scored in two games in 2015.
The Rabbitohs have had the wood on Paul McGregor's team in recent times, but these two Charity Shield rivals never fail to produce a quality spectacle. St George Illawarra will host the Rabbitohs at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Round 3, before the Red V take on Penrith on Sunday afternoon in Round 4.
All eyes will then turn to the west in Round 5, when Brad Arthur and his new-look Eels face the Panthers under new coach Anthony Griffin. With plenty of movement at both clubs, it looms as one of the most anticipated western Sydney derbies in years at Pirtek Stadium.
Sunday fixtures to kick-off season 2016
Round 1 (March 6) – Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park
Round 2 (March 13) – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v St George Illawarra Dragons at Remondis Stadium, Cronulla
Round 3 (March 20) – St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs at Sydney Cricket Ground
Round 4 (March 27) – St George Illawarra Dragons v Penrith Panthers (TBA - Jubilee Oval, Kogarah or WIN Stadium, Wollongong)
Round 5 (April 3) – Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers at Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta