NRL and NYC Match Previews - Rabbitohs vs Roosters - Round One, 2013
8:05pm kickoff Allianz Stadium
Official hashtag - #NRLSydSou #gorabbitohs
There is always huge interest surrounding games involving the two oldest clubs in the competition but its hard to remember the last time there was this much hype.
With both clubs touted as finals bound sides, Sonny Bill Williams returning, and the general dislike amongst both sets of fans, this is going to be one hell of an opening to the 2013 season.
The Roosters have recruited well in the off-season and have named new players Sam Moa, James Maloney, Luke ODonnell, Michael Jennings, Michael Oldfield and Williams in their 20-man squad.
All the hype has been about Williams but the Roosters last year really lacked firepower out wide (Mitchell Pearce was the Roosters top try-scorer with 10) and Jennings may be the man to provide that this year.
Add to that some creative help from Maloney and its a formidable looking side.
The Rabbitohs squad hasnt changed significantly from the side that fell a game short of the big one and stability is something the Club has lacked in the past few seasons.
Head Coach Michael Maguire and the leadership group have laid down the law before the season has even begun, dropping both Ben Teo and Nathan Merritt on separate occasions, and the players have been made aware that nothing but perfect preparation is acceptable.
The loss of Dave Taylor to the Titans has been filled by Ben Teo and if his performance in the Charity Shield is anything to go by, we should see him have a belter of a year.
The recruitment of the experienced Jeff Lima has flown under the radar somewhat but expect him to be a vital acquisition. Last year he was second only to England fullback Sam Tomkins for metres gained at Wigan and ended the season with a quite incredible 97% tackle efficiency.
The last two meetings were up there with two of the best of the season with a last second Roosters win in round one being reversed in round 19.
Relive 'that' try through the eyes of Fox Sports commentator Warren Smith by clicking here.
In the last five meetings, dating back to 2010, the Roosters hold a 3-2 advantage and have outscored the Rabbitohs 124 points to 108 with four of those games being won by less than a try and the other by just 11 points.
The last time the sides met the Rabbitohs prevailed 24-22 when Adam Reynolds finished off a length of the field effort from the kickoff.
Sam Burgess led the Rabbitohs in both tackles (41), offloads (4) and hit-ups (16 for 119 metres) while Chris McQueen made three line-breaks, two of which led to the last gasp tries.
Inglis was at his ball-carrying best running for 151 metres and recording 11 tackle breaks. Nathan Merritt posted a try-double.
For the Roosters, Anthony Minichiello worked hard all day (24 runs for 191 metres) while Friend (39 tackles), Cordner (38 tackles) and Guerra (37 tackles) soaked up plenty of Rabbitohs attack.
Keys to victory
The Rabbitohs have had a nearly full pre-season with their new recruits while the Roosters will have to contend with having a number of players recently joining their ranks.
Expect the Rabbitohs to be a little more settled but thats not to say the Roosters dont have a number of genuine game-breakers.
The big battle is going to be up forward. How and when the Roosters will use Williams is a little unclear but having trained specifically for Rugby League for less than a month, youd expect his minutes to be limited.
Waerea-Hargreaves looms as an important man if he can give is side some go forward.
The Roosters back row did a great job of limiting the impact of the Rabbitohs forwards last time the sides met and theyll face another huge test with the likes of Sam Burgess, Roy Asotasi, Ben Teo, George Burgess and Jeff Lima running at them all day.
If they cant slow the play-the-ball down by winning the wrestle, Issac Luke will tear them to shreds.
Greg Inglis remains one of the most destructive players in the NRL. He consistently bends back defensive lines from kick returns and Pearce and Maloneys boots will need to be spot on to limit the damage he can cause.
Sam Burgess vs Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
The Englishman and the Kiwi are absolute wrecking balls on their day and will perhaps be the most important of the big men on Thursday night.
Career NRL Games
2012 NRL Games
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Greg Inglis vs Anthony Minichiello
How this battle pans out will be crucial in the grand scheme of the game. While it wont be Minichiellos direct job to stop Greg Inglis, how his team mates handle the massive fullback will be vital.
Minichiello was brilliant in the last two encounters and he will again need a level head down back.
Career NRL Games
2012 NRL Games
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Holden Cup Preview
Just like their NRL counterparts, the last time the under 20s sides met was an absolute cracker.
It ended in heartache for the Rabbitohs though, as they were bundled out of the elimination final thanks to a last second try to Curtis Rona.
Theyll be looking for revenge as they attempt to kick off the 2013 campaign with a win under new coach, former Rabbitoh Grant Jones.
The Rabbitohs Holden Cup side have some big names returning for 2013 and definitely have the talent to make a big impact on the competition.
While predicting results so early in the season when player turnover is so common is a dangerous business, the Rabbitohs' spine looks to have the quality that features in finals squads.
Hooker Cameron McInnes is one of two co-captains of the side. McInness managed to play a few minutes against the very tough Papua New Guinea side at Return to Redfern and this type of experience sets him up well for the season.
The centre pairing of Tyrone Phillips and Aaron Gray will be one of the best in the competition and Will Paterson has a tonne of talent at fullback.
Siosaia Tanginoa has been strong on the wing during the trials and is joined by 2012 squad member Jordan Heyer on the other wing.
Dylan Walker might be the most exciting prospect, the 18 year old five-eighth scored a try with his first touch in the Charity Shield and its amazing to think he was playing SG Ball just last year.
He will be paired in the halves with Brad Wall, joining the Rabbitohs this year from the North Sydney Bears.
English import, prop Daniel Smith, will be looking to make a big impression and will be joined in the pack by returning NYC players co-captain Brad Croad, Luke Pollard and Arnold Woulf.
The Roosters have no lack of talent either with NRL squad members Rhyse Martin, Jack Siejka and Samisoni Langi named in the side.