Friday night fixtures a boost for the Broncos

Ben Barba, pictured celebrating a try for former club Canterbury, will come up against his old side with the Broncos in round one.
Ben Barba, pictured celebrating a try for former club Canterbury, will come up against his old side with the Broncos in round one. RENEE Mckay aap

FOR yet another season, the Broncos will enjoy the consistency of playing on a Friday night for the first 10 rounds of 2014, following the release of next year's draw.

They will also get the bye ahead of Origin II and III, so will only be without their Maroons contingent for one week during the representative period.

But the Brisbane outfit will have a tough run home, with six matches against top-eight opposition from last season in the final seven rounds.

The Broncos will face the Storm, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Knights and Storm for the second time in the season in that period.

The 2014 season will kick off on Thursday, March 6, with the defending-champions the Roosters opening their premiership defence against their oldest rivals, the Rabbitohs.

It should then be an opening round to remember, with the Bulldogs "welcoming" home former star Ben Barba when they host the Broncos at ANZ Stadium.

Also in round one, the Panthers will face the Knights, grand finalists the Sea Eagles clash against arch rivals the Storm, the Cowboys will be at home to the Raiders, the Dragons will face the Tigers and the Eels will take on the Warriors. The early rounds will feature stand-out games week after week, with the grand-final rematch between the Roosters and the Sea Eagles scheduled for Friday, March 28, at Allianz Stadium (round four).

Heritage Round (round five) will feature a new annual event on the NRL calendar - a showdown between traditional rivals the Dragons and the Rabbitohs at the historic SCG.

A focus of next year will be on Sunday blockbusters between Sydney clubs, while the Broncos will also host the Sea Eagles in a post-Origin Sunday afternoon showdown in round 12.

Evening scheduling of seven out of eight games each week over the first three rounds will reduce heat issues for the players.

The Titans will be hard hit during State of Origin with the club getting no byes during that period.

It has been compensated, however, by four consecutive home games at Skilled Park from round 11, with just one away game between rounds 11 and 18.

North Queensland has the chance to get off to a flyer under new coach Paul Green, with six of its first 10 games at home.

But the Cowboys' toughest period will be in the middle of the year.

They'll lose their rep stars for two games before Origin I and III, in away matches against the Raiders and Dragons.

The Cowboys will only play twice at home between round 11 and round 20, but has two byes in that time.

Topics:  brisbane broncos nrl state of origin

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