Clash of the traditional rivals in round one blockbuster
This game will see the return to what many refer to as the spiritual home of rugby league, Sydney Cricket Ground as Allianz Stadium is being replaced.
This looks to be a mammoth clash!
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Roosters begin their premiership defence, going toe to toe with their historic rivals South Sydney under the helm of the master coach Wayne Bennett.
The Roosters have strengthened their playing group over the off-season with the addition of Brett Morris, Angus Crichton replacing Blake Ferguson and Ryan Matterson.
The Rabbitohs have shifted Sam Burgess to the right edge back-row position and promoted Cameron Murray from the interchange to lock forward. After losing their leading club try scorer from 2018 in Robert Jennings they have Braiden Burns slotting into the backline. George Burgess will be missing up front for the first few rounds through suspension.
Star signing Angus Crichton on the bench, with Mitchell Aubusson starting in the second row. Brett Morris will line up on the wing after starring in a booming display during the World Club Challenge in the centres. Nat Butcher and Lachlan Lam were omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick off.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Mitchell Aubusson 13. Victor Radley 14. Isaac Liu 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Lindsay Collins 17. Angus Crichton 19. Matt Ikuvalu
Braidon Burns is the new face in the back five, named at centre with Dane Gagai shifting to the wing. Tevita Tatola replaces the suspended George Burgess in the front row. Cameron Murray starts at lock with Sam Burgess shifting to an edge to replace Angus Crichton. New signings Ethan Lowe and Corey Allan are named on the bench. Greg Inglis confirmed fit to take his place in the centres and rookie fullback Corey Allan to make his NRL debut on the bench.
1. Alex Johnston 2. Dane Gagai 3. Greg Inglis 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. John Sutton 12. Sam Burgess 13. Cameron Murray 14. Liam Knight 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Ethan Lowe 17. Corey Allen 18. Kyle Turner 19. Connor Tracey
HEAD TO HEAD
Head to head in the NRL era (since 1998)
Played: 38; Roosters 26 wins, Rabbitohs 12 wins
Latest result: Roosters won 12-4 in 2018 finals series
At this venue: Roosters 33% wins, Rabbitohs 58% wins
Roosters Star Alert: Victor Radley pound for pound, the 20-year-old back-rower has already earned a reputation as one of the NRL’s hardest hitters. Radley missed just one game last year, scoring three tries and notching three try assists. He had six line break assists and a tackling efficiency of 87.7%.
Rabbitohs Star Alert: Damien Cook – the 27-year-old hooker earned his State of Origin stripes and played a key role in the Blues’ series victory. Souths didn’t win the title, but Cook was named Dally M Hooker of the Year and went on to play for Australia. He played in 25 games for the Rabbitohs, chalking up five tries, eight try assists and nine line break assists.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 15th of March
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
WHO WILL WIN?
The Beard looks at this one as a tight and rough battle. Even though being named on the bench Angus Crighton still should get plenty of game time. Obviously coming up against his former team mates her will know the oppositon and he will be ready to rip them up the centre. After stamping himself as one of the premier back-rowers in the game last season with his hard running and tackle busting abilities and earning himself a State of Origin debut for New South Wales he will continue to build on this. He runs plays like he should in attack but has great size to be great in defense also. To help him do this he has the services and combination now with one of the best playmakers in the history of the game with Cronk, underated and skillful. Expect this combination to lead to Crighton to leak tries in 2019.
Cameron Murray looks set for an enormous year after enjoying a breakout 2018 season despite coming off the interchange for much of the year. Widely touted in rugby league circles as one of the brightest young stars in the game, Murray is a natural footballer in the truest sense. A real tough competitor who punches well above his weight and has a tremendous work rate.
Wayne Bennet has his critics but we all must admit that the supercoach still has what it takes and for the Bunnies this hopefully translates to a great season ahead.
I cannot possibly tip against the Chooks and look to defend their premiership title with a win tonight by 8 points.