England v Samoa
Saturday, 4pm (AEST), 5pm (ADST)
Two Rabbitohs will be on display in the opening match of Saturday’s Four Nations opener between England Samoa, with twin giants George and Thomas Burgess taking their place in Steve McNamara’s side for the clash.
After a barnstorming season wearing red and green, George Burgess will start in England’s front row alongside British Bulldog James Graham in what shapes up as one of rugby league’s most fearsome front rows. Thomas Burgess will come off the bench for a side brimming with talent as well as NRL experience.
With the likes of Gareth Widdop and Sam Tomkins complimenting the talents of Super League players such as Josh Charnley and Kallum Watkins to name just two, England are a genuine chance of taking the tournament by storm and potentially coming away with the trophy. But don’t for a second discount Samoa.
The Samoan outfit earned their spot in the Four Nations Tournament via a brutal clash with Fiji by 32-16 earlier in the season, and after naming an outfit brimming with NRL players the calibre of Ben Roberts, Josh McGuire, Antonio Winterstein and former Kiwi David Fa’alogo, the men in blue are by no means easy-beats, despite their reputation as being international rugby league minnows – all that is well and truly about to change.
On both sides of half-way, it’s all about size – of which there is no shortage of. Even the Samoan back-line boasts incredible size in the form of Joey Leilua and Daniel Vidot, while up front, Sam Tagataese and David Fa’alogo book-end a monster side. But don’t discount England in this department. Between the Burgess twins and James Graham alone, a hulking 346kg of English props will be colliding with the Samoan side. Expect plenty of fireworks and plenty of passion as both sides look for an edge.
Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 6.30pm (AEST), 7.30pm (ADST)
Two Rabbitohs will line up for the Kangaroos this Saturday night when Australia takes on New Zealand in their opening clash of the Four Nations tournament at Suncorp Stadium, with Greg Inglis and Test debutant Dylan Walker set to wear the green and gold.
Walker’s selection in Tim Sheens’ side makes him the 65th Rabbitoh to play for Australia while with the Club, and the 56th Souths Junior to do so. He will line up in the centres alongside Roosters counterpart Michael Jennings in what is a fantastic opportunity for the young-gun.
Walker pointed to players such as Test skipper Cameron Smith as well as fellow Rabbitohs teammate Greg Inglis as squad members he will seek to learn from.
“There are so many great players in this squad,” said Walker.
“It’s just good enough to train with them and come in to camp and get to know them personally – I’m just excited about meeting new players and new people.”
But opportunity also knocks for Rabbitohs fullback Greg Inglis, who will enjoy what will effectively be his first full international tournament wearing the number one jersey in the absence of Melbourne’s Billy Slater. So far, the Rabbitohs fullback likes what he sees in Australia's new-look side.
"The combinations are working really well. The young guys are fitting in really well and it's good having some leaders around them as well," Inglis said.
"I think they bring a lot of enthusiasm into the side which is a plus for us."
The Kiwis will be without Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke owing to suspension, but will field a talented young side – many of whom were part of the side that troubled the Kangaroos in this year’s ANZAC Test.
The Kangaroos are a young bunch, with debutants Walker and Josh Mansour set to partner each other on the flank, while the new-look halves combo of Daly Cherry-Evans and Cooper Cronk will need time to settle into their new roles at international level.