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The Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs meet in the first local derby of the season on Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
After a tumultuous off season, the Roosters are desperate to get back on the playing field and let their rugby league do the talking. With news filtering through that former captain and Half Back Mitchell Pearce has been suspended for 8 games by the NRL, the Bondi boys will be hoping that a win can restore some pride in their organisation and quiet down the rumors that the tri colours won’t be taking part in the Finals series in 2016.
Not only has off field dramas hurt the Roosters, but also injuries. Boyd Cordner (torn pec) and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (ACL) will join Mitchell Pearce on the sideline and severly weakens the Roosters outfit. They will be relying on younger members of their squad to give them a boost, keep a particular eye on Jackson Hastings and Latrell Mitchell.
Souths have had a much quieter pre season with the major news coming months ago when Sam Burgess moved back to the foundation club after a stint in English Rugby. The Rabbitohs are keen to put a disappointing 2015 season behind them where they bounced out of the finals in week 1. Greg Inglis is fit and healthy which will excite Souths fans. The addition of Sam Burgess will bolster their squad as well as the recruitment of young centre Hymel Hunt.
The Roosters have only won 2 of the past 5 against the Bunnies, and have dropped 6 of the last 10 games. Souths only have a 33% win record at Allianz since it opened in 1988, even though it was their home ground for many years! It’s one of the greatest rivalries in Rugby League and this contest is sure to be no different.
Traditional rivals Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs lock horns in a blockbuster NRL opening round showdown at the SCG on Friday night.
If anything, the Roosters have strengthened their side since beating Melbourne to win the premiership last season – can they begin their title defence with a victory over their main rivals?
The two main departures of the Roosters’ Grand Final winning team were Blake Ferguson and Dylan Napa, but they’ve arguably brought in better players in the form of Brett Morris, who will start on the wing, and Angus Crichton, who will make his Roosters debut off the bench against his former club
Blessed with arguably the best backline in the competition – including James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell and Cooper Cronk – the Roosters are as good a chance as any team in the last 25 years or so to secure back-to-back premierships this season.
Meanwhile, Wayne Bennett will be relishing the opportunity to test his Rabbitohs side against the best in the business straight off the bat.
It will be very interesting to see how Bennett fares at South Sydney, especially considering how well Anthony Seibold did at the club last season, guiding them to the preliminary finals.
Braidon Burns starts at centre for the Rabbitohs, with Dane Gagai shifting to the wing and new signings Ethan Lowe and Corey Allan on the bench.
The Roosters have been dominant over the Rabbitohs in recent fixtures, and I think they’ll emerge victorious again on Friday night. Trent Robinson’s side don’t have a weakness, and if they avoid complacency, I think they can go all the way again this season. The Rabbitohs will keep it close, but the Roosters’ class should prevail in the end.
Roosters: 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 (c) 10 Sio Siua Taukeiaho 11 Boyd Cordner (c) 12 Mitchell Aubusson 13 Victor Radley.
Interchange: 14 Isaac Liu 15 Zane Tetevano 16 Lindsay Collins 17 Angus Crichton. Reserves: 18 Nat Butcher 19 Matthew Ikuvalu 20 Lachlan Lam 21 Poasa Faamausili.
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston 2 Dane Gagai 3 Greg Inglis (c) 4 Braidon Burns 5 Campbell Graham 6 Cody Walker 7 Adam Reynolds 8 Tevita Tatola 9 Damien Cook 10 Tom Burgess 11 John Sutton 12 Sam Burgess 13 Cameron Murray.
Interchange: 14 Liam Knight 15 Mark Nicholls 16 Ethan Lowe 17 Corey Allan. Reserves: 18 Kyle Turner 19 Connor Tracey 20 Rhys Kennedy 21 Mawene Hiroti.