Old rivals that always enjoy renewing hostilities meet in this round one Sunday blockbuster: the league doesn’t have an older rivalry, dating back to the foundation of the league, and there is no love lost whenever the Roosters and Rabbitohs play. All eyes are on Sam Burgess, but there are some intricacies on both sides that mean this clash won’t be like any other of late.
LAST TIME OUT
The Roosters were strong in their World Club Series showing, but as with their previous tournaments, they were not exceptional during the Auckland Nines; rookies such as Latrell Mitchell shone through however and the Sydney club hope their young guns can provide spark in attack that they miss from the loss of Mitchell Pearce.
South Sydney on the other hand slipped past the Dragons in the Charity Shield and registered only a single win at the Nines, coincidentally against the Roosters: something that the Roosters would like to reverse come this Sunday.
The props and the halves are where a lot of the pregame hype has been directed, both due to the players named in the starting squads. The Roosters sans Pearce and Maloney have had to play rookies Jayden Nikorima and Jackson Hastings, while for the Rabbitohs Cody Walker will debut alongside Adam Reynolds, mainstay of the Souths halves.
The hype for the prop rotations is largely due to the long awaited return of Sam Burgess to Rusty’s Burrow, but it is the Rooster front row with a point to prove: Kane Evans and Dylan Napa are in a position where they can really lead from the front for the first time in their careers, the injury to Jared Waerea-Hargreaves what opens the door for the rookie middle forwards to shine.
Out of all of the halves taking the field on Sunday, only one has had enough experience to really shine through, and that is South Sydney’s Adam Reynolds; “Rendiggity” will have to lead from the front, and it is a case of when will his experience shine through rather than if. Hastings and Nikorima are not by any means bad players, but if they want to mix it with the big pigs they’ll need a bit more time together.
Rabbitohs by 10.
Roosters: 1 Blake Ferguson 2 Daniel Tupou 3 Dale Copley 4 Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5 Latrell Mitchell 6 Jayden Nikorima 7 Jackson Hastings 8 Kane Evans 9 Jake Friend (c) 10 Dylan Napa 11 Aidan Guerra 12 Mitchell Aubusson 13 Isaac Liu. Interchange: 14 Sio Siua Taukeiaho 15 Sam Moa 16 Ian Henderson 17 Vincent Leuluai 18 Mitchell Frei 19 Joe Burgess.
Rabbitohs: 1 Greg Inglis (c) 2 Alex Johnston 3 Bryson Goodwin 4 Hymel Hunt 5 Aaron Gray 6 Cody Walker 7 Adam Reynolds 8 Sam Burgess 9 Cameron McInnes 10 David Tyrell 11 Paul Carter 12 John Sutton 13 Kyle Turner. Interchange: 14 Damien Cook 15 Jason Clark 16 Chris Grevsmuhl 17 Zane Musgrove 18 Kirisome Auva’a 19 Nathan Brown.
Referees: Jared Maxwell, Adam Gee