Merritt was dumped for the Charity Shield clash against St George Illawarra after sleeping in and missing a training session, but has been named on the wing for the Allianz Stadium encounter.
Beau Champion will play in the centres for the first time in two years for the club having returned to Redfern from the Gold Coast via Melbourne.
Ben Te'o makes his debut for the Souths following his move from Brisbane.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS have named Sonny Bill Williams to face the Rabbitohs.
Williams, who was in doubt to play because of knee and pectoral problems, has been named to come off the bench in the hotly anticipated season opener.
CANTERBURY has named NSW winger Steve Turner to replace Ben Barba at fullback for the Bulldogs' opening NRL clash of the season against North Queensland in Gosford on Saturday.
Barba has been stood down indefinitely due to off-field issues and Turner, who missed most of last season due to injury, will wear the No.1 jersey for the Bulldogs.
Recent signing from Canberra Drury Low, who had been tipped to play fullback, will start on the wing.
NEWCASTLE signing Travis Waddell will make his debut against Wests Tigers on Monday after being named in Wayne Bennett's side for the Knights' NRL season opener at Ausgrid Stadium.
The former Canberra hooker will take his spot in the team after Matt Hilder was ruled out for up to a month with a thumb injury.
Danny Buderus is also sidelined with a back injury.
GOLD COAST forward Mark Minichiello has been overlooked by the Titans for their season-opening NRL encounter against Cronulla.
The foundation player holds the record for the most games played for the Titans in their six-year history but coach John Cartwright has named youngsters Ben Ridge and Ryan James ahead of the former City Origin representative for Sunday's clash.
Utility Luke O'Dwyer has been named on an extended bench while off-season recruit Albert Kelly has been given the first chance to fill ex-skipper Scott Prince's No.7 jersey after being named at halfback to take on his former club.
MANLY coach Geoff Toovey has named a new-look pack for Friday night's NRL opening round clash with Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
While the backline has a familiar feel to it with Brett Stewart, Jamie Lyon and winger David Williams all included, new faces Justin Horo and Brenton Lawrence will both start in the forwards.
NRL Teams for Round 1, 2013:
ROOSTERS V RABBITOHS - 7TH MARCH, 8:05PM, ALLIANZ STADIUM
Sydney Roosters: Anthony Minichiello (c), Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Aubusson, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Martin Kennedy, Sonny Bill Williams, Luke O’Donnell, Boyd Cordner, Michael Oldfield, Tinirau Arona
South Sydney Rabbitohs: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Dylan Farrell, Beau Champion, Andrew Everingham, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Sam Burgess, Issac Luke, Roy Asotasi, Chris McQueen, Ben Te'o, Ben Lowe. Interchange: Nathan Peats, Michael Crocker (c), Jeff Lima, George Burgess, Dave Tyrrell, Jason Clark, Bryson Goodwin
BRONCOS V SEA EAGLES - 8TH MARCH, 8:05PM, SUNCORP STADIUM
Brisbane Broncos: Corey Norman, Josh Hoffman, Jack Reed, Justin Hodges, Lachlan Maranta, Scott Prince, Peter Wallace, Josh McGuire, Andrew McCullough, Sam Thaiday (c), Alex Glenn, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Ben Hannant, Mitchell Dodds, David Stagg, Scott Anderson
Manly Sea Eagles: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, David Williams, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Brenton Lawrence, Matt Ballin, Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Richie Fa'aoso, Joe Galuvao, David Gower, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Peta Hiku, George Rose
EELS V WARRIORS - 9TH MARCH, 5:30PM, PARRAMATTA STADIUM
Parramatta Eels: Jarryd Hayne, Ken Sio, Ryan Morgan, Jacob Loko, Cheyse Blair, Luke Kelly, Chris Sandow, Darcy Lussick, Matt Keating, Tim Mannah, Reni Maitua, Ben Smith, Joseph Paulo. Interchange: Ben Roberts, Fuifui Moimoi, Mitchell Allgood, Matthew Ryan
NZ Warriors: Kevin Locke, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Elijah Taylor, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (C), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ben Henry, Jacob Lillyman, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Pita Godinet, Steve Rapira, Charlie Gubb
BULLDOGS V COWBOYS - 9TH MARCH, 7:30PM, BLUETONGUE STADIUM
Canterbury Bulldogs: Steve Turner, Drury Low, Josh Morris, Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett, Josh Reynolds, Kris Keating, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (c), Martin Taupau, Tony Williams, Josh Jackson, Greg Eastwood. Interchange: Dene Halatau, Dale Finucane, Tim Browne, David Klemmer, Mitch Brown
North Queensland Cowboys: Matthew Bowen, Ashley Graham, Brent Tate, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston (c), Ray Thompson, Matt Scott (c), Scott Moore, James Tamou, Gavin Cooper, Glenn Hall, Dallas Johnson. Interchange: Rory Kostjasyn, Ashton Sims, Tariq Sims, Jason Taumalolo, Scott Bolton, Robert Lui
PANTHERS V RAIDERS - 10TH MARCH, 2:00PM, CENTREBET STADIUM
Penrith Panthers: Dean Whare, Josh Mansour, Wes Naiqama, Brad Tighe, David Simmons, Lachlan Coote, Luke Walsh, Sam McKendry, Kevin Kingston, Tim Grant, Sika Manu, Lewis Brown, Nathan Smith. Interchange: James Segeyaro, Nigel Plum, Clint Newton, Jeremy Latimore, Adam Docker
Canberra Raiders: Reece Robinson, Sandor Earl, Jack Wighton, Blake Ferguson, Edrick Lee, Josh McCrone, Sam Williams, David Shillington (vc), Shaun Berrigan, Dane Tilse, Josh Papalii, Joel Thompson, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Matt McIlwrick, Joel Edwards, Mark Nicholls, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Brett White (vc)
STORM V DRAGONS - 10TH MARCH, 3:00PM, AAMI PARK
Melbourne Storm: Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Will Chambers, Justin O'Neill, Mahe Fonua, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Tohu Harris, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Jason Ryles, Lagi Setu, Siosaia Vave, Junior Moors, Brett Finch
St George Illawarra Dragons: Gerard Beale, Brett Morris, Chase Stanley, Matt Cooper, Jason Nightingale, Jamie Soward, Nathan Fien, Dan Hunt, Mitch Rein, Michael Weyman, Tyson Frizell, Ben Creagh (c), Trent Merrin. Interchange: Bronson Harrison, Leeson Ah Mau, Matt Prior, Cameron King, Jack Stockwell
SHARKS V TITANS - 10TH MARCH, 6:30PM, SHARKS STADIUM
Cronulla Sharks: Michael Gordon, Jonathan Wright, Ricky Leutele, Matthew Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Chris Heighington, Jon Green, John Morris, Anthony Tupou, Jayson Bukuya, Mark Taufua, Chad Townsend
Gold Coast Titans: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Brad Takairangi, Jamal Idris, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Ben Ridge, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Dave Taylor, Luke Bailey, Ryan James, Beau Falloon, Luke O'Dwyer
KNIGHTS V TIGERS - 11TH MARCH, 7:00PM, HUNTER STADIUM
Newcastle Knights: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Anthony Quinn, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Kurt Gidley (c), Kade Snowden, Travis Waddell, Willie Mason, Beau Scott, Chris Houston, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Tyrone Roberts, Neville Costigan, Robbie Rochow, Alex McKinnon, David Fa’alogo
Wests Tigers: Tim Moltzen, Marika Koroibete, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence, Matt Utai, Benji Marshall, Jacob Miller, Jack Buchanan, Robbie Farah, Keith Galloway, Braith Anasta, Liam Fulton, Adam Blair. Interchange: Matt Bell, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Bodene Thompson, Eddy Pettybourne, Joel Reddy, Aaron Woods