Coach Paul McGregor needs to sort out why the Red V are so good at starting seasons and so poor at finishing them; if he can unlock that mystery the premiership window is open for the Dragons.
The arrival of ex-Eels playmaker Corey Norman provides a huge boost to the club with both he and Gareth Widdop able to play fullback, halfback or five-eighth. His signature will be even more useful given the loss of Kurt Mann to Newcastle.
Nene Macdonald (Cowboys) and Jason Nightingale (retired) leave wing spots open with young gun Zac Lomax a good chance of starting on the flank in 2019 after some impressive games at centre late in 2018.
Korbin Sims is expected to provide a like-for-like replacement for Leeson Ah Mau (Warriors) but will miss the opening round due to suspension.
Resident NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:
"If Corey Norman comes then he goes straight into the six role with Widdop to fullback and Dufty misses out.
"You've got depth on the bench, I would have Korbin Sims starting and James Graham coming off the bench. Last season once his form went out he got a bit tired. He's a competitor and if you start him on the bench you have someone to come on in that second 20 minutes and keeps the intensity up and maintains the rage.
"I want Lomax in the centres with Tim Lafai, Ravalawa and Pereira on the wings and Aitken misses out."
NRL.com's predicted Round 1 team:
- Gareth Widdop
- Zac Lomax
- Euan Aitken
- Tim Lafai
- Jordan Pereira
- Corey Norman
- Ben Hunt
- Paul Vaughan
- Cameron McInnes
- James Graham
- Tyson Frizell
- Tariq Sims
- Jack De Belin
- Matt Dufty
- Jacob Host
- Luciano Leilua
- Korbin Sims
Other squad members: Mitch Allgood, Jai Field, Josh Kerr, Jeremy Latimore, Blake Lawrie, Darren Nicholls, Jonus Pearson, Mikaela Ravalawa, Reece Robson, Tristan Sailor, Lachlan Timm