Rhys Sullivan previews what is set to be an opening-round blockbuster between 2 historic sides.
Brisbane Broncos vs South Sydney Rabbitohs
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Date: Friday March 11, 7:05pm (local)
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Broncos: 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Billy Walters 7. Albert Kelly 8. Keenan Palasia 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Ryan James 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Teui Robati 17. Tyrone Roberts 18. Corey Jensen 19. Brenko Lee 20. Jordan Pereira 21. Te Maire Martin 22. Ezra Mam
Broncos captain Adam Reynolds will have his club debut delayed due to testing positive for Covid-19, with Kobe Hetherington, Corey Paix and Tyson Gamble also out for the same reason. Both Thomas Flegler and Jordan Riki serve suspensions picked up at the end of 2021, while Tesi Niu remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Billy Walters, Kurt Capewell, Ryan James, and Tyrone Roberts have all been named to make their Bronco debuts, while all 4 reserves named are also yet to play for the team. If 22nd man Ezra Mam were to receive a call-up, it would be the 19-year-old’s NRL debut.Embed from Getty Images
Rabbitohs: 1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Jaxson Paulo 4. Campbell Graham 5. Taane Milne 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Mark Nicholls 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Jacob Host 15. Siliva Havili 16. Thomas Burgess 17. Michael Chee Kam 18. Davvy Moale 19. Josh Mansour 20. Liam Knight 21. Richard Kennar 22. Peter Mamouzelos
With Latrell Mitchell suspended, the backline reshuffle sees Taane Milne get a start over Josh Mansour. Siliva Havili beats out Liam Knight for a bench spot, and it is Lachlan Ilias who will get the first crack at the number seven jersey vacated by Adam Reynolds.
Havili and Michael Chee Kam will both make their first appearances for the cardinal and myrtle in this one, with everyone in the 22-man squad having had prior NRL experience.
Referee: Ashley Klein
After a pair of blowout wins against Brisbane in 2021, South Sydney will be looking to do the same to start off the Jason Demetriou era. Both teams had a very poor preseason – the Rabbitohs going down to North Queensland and St George Illawarra, while the Broncos scraped out a draw against the Titans before also losing to the Cowboys- meaning both sides will be fired up for this one.
Broncos vs Rabbitohs games have usually been very watchable affairs – one only has to think back to ANZAC Day 2014, when a famous Greg Inglis try (and some controversy around the interpretation of the inside the 10 rule) helped South Sydney to a 28-26 victory. Since that game, Brisbane has won eight of the 15 meetings between the two clubs, but have only beaten Souths once since 2019.
A lot of questions have been asked about how the addition of Reynolds will reverse Brisbane’s fortunes, and how the loss of Reynolds would inhibit South Sydney. But with Reynolds out, the onus falls on Albert Kelly and Billy Walters to produce magic for the Broncos- something the team has lacked massively over the past 2 seasons. As for Souths, Lachlan Ilias now has the proverbial world at his feet, being given the role of halfback for the team. How he gels with Cody Walker will determine how far the Rabbitohs can go in 2022.Embed from Getty Images
- Kurt Capewell makes his Broncos debut against the team his cousin, Luke Capewell, debuted for back in 2008. The older Capewell would play 28 matches over 3 years with the Rabbitohs, before also featuring with the Broncos, playing 5 games for the club in 2012.
- This marks Brisbane’s 45th meeting against the Rabbitohs, with none of the prior 44 coming in the finals. That is by far the most games played by a Broncos opponent without the teams meeting in the finals, with the second placed Wests Tigers only at 30 matchups.
- Kevin and Billy Walters join an elite group of fathers and sons to coach and play for a club at the same time. Currently in the NRL this is done by Ivan and Nathan Cleary, as well as Brad and Jacob Arthur. Some prior examples also include Shane and Kyle Flanagan, John and Martin Lang, and Wayne Bennett and Darius Boyd!
South Sydney by 8
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