2024 NRL: Round 16 Preview, Rabbitohs Vs Sea Eagles

Check out the match preview and prediction for the round 16 clash between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.

MATCHDAY NEWS

MATCHDAY SCHEDULE

South Sydney Rabbitohs Vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Venue: Accor Stadium
Date: Saturday June 22, 7:30pm

MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS

Rabbitohs: 1. Jye Gray, 2. Alex Johnston, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Richard Kennar, 5. Jacob Gagai, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Cody Walker, 8. Davvy Moale, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Sean Keppie, 11. Michael Chee Kam, 12. Jai Arrow, 13. Keaon Koloamatangi, 14. Peter Mamouzelos, 15. Tallis Duncan, 16. Thomas Burgess, 17. Liam Le Blanc, 18. Dion Teaupa, 19. Chase Chapman, 20. Adam Christensen, 21. Bayleigh Bentley-Hape, 22. Gehamat Shibasaki

Players cut from final squad:

Sea Eagles: 1. Lehi Hopoate, 2. Jason Saab, 3. Tolutau Koula, 4. Aaron Schoupp, 5. Tommy Talau, 6. Luke Brooks, 7. Karl Lawton, 8. Ethan Bullemor, 9. Jake Simpkin, 10. Toafofoa Sipley, 11. Corey Waddell, 12. Ben Trbojevic, 13. Nathan Brown, 14. Gordon Chan Kum Tong, 15. Ben Condon, 16. Caleb Navale, 17. Aitasi James, 18. Clayton Faulalo, 19. Jaxson Paulo, 20. Brad Parker, 21. Jamie Humphreys, 22. Raymond Tuiamalo Vaega

Players cut from final squad:

Referee: Chris Butler
Bunker: Wyatt Raymond

Embed from Getty Images

MATCHDAY PREVIEW

South Sydney welcome Manly to the Sydney Olympic Stadium in a patch of good form not seen for over a year. Their current three game winning run was last matched in May 2023 before the Rabbitohs went on a rapid decline that eventually saw them drop from first to outside the top eight and cost Jason Demetriou his job. It has taken a while, and the sniff of a New South Wales Blues jersey that has seen them come to life in recent weeks (but after essentially a year of mainly dross from South Sydney), the fans will be starting to be happy again.

Those Origin jerseys have indeed gone to some Rabbitohs including Latrell Mitchell who has come alive since his return from suspension, but he is just one of a bunch of changes for both sides ahead of the Saturday clash. Cameron Murray is another key player missing for the Rabbitohs, his industrious 49 minutes last weekend enough to convince New South Wales’ selectors.

Murray is replaced by a debutant Liam Le Blanc, who has quite the background story ahead of his first NRL game. He was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which causes episodes of rapid heart rate, during Souths pre-season training and then had heart surgery in the off season and has been eased back into rugby league through the NSW Cup. Jye Gray returns from injury to replace Latrell Mitchell at fullback, and he did well when he replaced the Rabbitohs number one last time around.

The other big team news for South Sydney may not affect this weekend but will do in 2025, as it was announced on Wednesday that their stalwart hooker Damien Cook was leaving the club for St George-Illawarra Dragons.

The Sea Eagles have key players out as well, with Daly Cherry-Evans the headline player missing. He has been replaced by Karl Lawton who has recently moved to the interchange bench following the mid-season recruitment of hooker Jake Simpkin from the Wests Tigers.

Cherry-Evans isn’t the only key player out though, with Blues captain Jake Trbojevic out too, replaced by Nathan Brown. There’s injuries for Manly as well with goal kicking centre Reuben Garrick out this weekend under concussion protocols and prop Taniela Paseka missing due to a fractured thumb.

The Sea Eagles will miss Paseka’s hard charging: he averages over 130 metres per game and is in the top ten for Post Contact Metres this season. Paseka is replaced in the starting side by Ethan Bullemor, and another mid-season signing Aaron Schoupp fills in for Garrick.

Manly’s season so far has been up and down with the Sea Eagles unable to string more than two wins in a row this season and their record on the road this season isn’t great. They currently sit in eighth position on the ladder, which sounds about right for their up and down season. Amazingly, despite being anchored to the bottom of the ladder for some time this season, South Sydney will move within three competition points of Manly if they win.

Cherry-Evans missing leaves Luke Brooks in charge in the halves with Karl Lawton named at halfback, which gives the former Tiger a chance to exorcise his Tigers demons and lead Manly to victory. But he will be up against it facing up to the Souths halves combination of Cody Walker and Jack Wighton. The Rabbitohs resisted the urge to put Wighton in the halves earlier in the season, but with injuries and form moved their star off season recruit to five eighth for round 12, and Souths have won all three games since. The halves matchup is one of the keys to the game.

Cody Walker must have been close to NSW selection, and depending on the result next Wednesday can still prove his worth in this game. Along with other Origin hopefuls like Jai Arrow and Keaon Koloamatangi.

Souths have the recent head-to-head advantage over Manly winning seven of their last eight games against the Sea Eagles, but did lose the most recent game in the season opener in Las Vegas.

Going a little deeper it’s seven home wins in a row for Souths over Manly with the last loss coming in 2017. It’s four straight at home on a Saturday for the Bunnies over Manly with their last loss in coming in 2009.

Combine that with Manly’s terrible record at Accor Stadium where they have won just two of their last 15 at the venue, and have one win from six away games this season (against the Titans on a Saturday on the Gold Coast) and the stats really aren’t on Manly’s side.

Souths will be hoping what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas and they continue their good recent run of results.

Head-to-head stats can be found at Number Crunch Stats.

MATCHDAY PREDICTION

Check out all the NRL Predictions here.

South Sydney by 8 points.

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