PREVIEW: Rd 1 2016 v Roosters
Roosters v Rabbitohs
Sunday 6 March
The opening round of the 2016 NRL season will see another chapter of Rugby League’s fiercest rivalry written, as the South Sydney Rabbitohs take on cross-town rivals, the Sydney Roosters, at Moore Park’s Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
The Red and Green’s will be looking to build on their recent trial game victories over the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Gold Coast Titans to secure another opening round victory.
Despite both sides fielding teams that will be affected by injuries and suspensions, the clash will undoubtedly be a high quality affair, carrying on the 108 year tradition between the two Foundation Clubs – a point highlighted by South Sydney forward, Jason Clark in the lead-up to the clash.
“The rivalry’s definitely there – there’s a lot of history with both clubs,” said the Souths Junior.
“They still have a good side and have some great players.”
Video: Team Line-up
Video: Maguire’s Round 1 Insights
Story: Roosters Line-up
Similarly to the pre-season period, a number of new faces will be on display for Souths, with many positions still up for grabs in both the backline and forward pack. The stiff competition for spots will mean that players will need to impress in the opening round in order to secure their spot in Michael Maguire’s top 17 throughout the season – a sentiment expressed by Souths back-rower, Kyle Turner speaking to Rabbitohs.com.au.
“There is a lot of competition, no spot is cemented in the side,” said Turner.
“We’ve just got to get out there and do our job and work at the little things we need to do.”
The clash against the Roosters will see both Cody Walker and Damien Cook don the cardinal and myrtle for the first time in the NRL, as well as the long awaited return of Grand Final hero, Sam Burgess.
Undeniably, the Rabbitohs will need to be on song against the Tricolours, who will field one of the largest and most dominant forward packs in the NRL as well as the exciting, if as yet untested, halves combination of Jayden Nikorima and Jackson Hastings – factors that contributed significantly to the Bondi club’s convincing victory over St Helens in their pre-season World Club Series fixture.
Throw in a dangerous Blake Ferguson at fullback, and the Roosters are a formidable outfit, as well as being a good test for the men in Red and Green for Round 1.
Spotlight – The Forwards
With the lowering of the interchange to eight, frequently substituted players in the forwards will from this year be required to play extra minutes, bringing about a more pronounced fatigue factor to the game.
Sam Burgess and John Sutton have both previously been known to play the full 80 minutes, however Sutton’s efforts were usually performed at five-eighth, while Burgess is just 60 minutes into his return to Rugby League, having gotten game time in the Club’s final trial of the pre-season against the Gold Coast Titans.
With the benefit of more game time, all the Rabbitohs forwards will no doubt adapt to the game’s new conditions, as will the other 15 NRL clubs.
“The rule changes I think will have an impact on the game – what (that) will be, I’m not sure yet,” Burgess told Triple M’s Grill Team this week.
“My view to it is that I’m just going to get out there and play how I normally play and see how it goes.
“I think the modern-day athlete – they find a way to adapt, especially with all the help and support that we get through our staff.
“They’ll find a way to maybe push out the extra 10 minutes. In my last season in 2014, I think I played 80 minutes in the majority of the games – it’ll be a good test on Sunday. We’ll see how the lungs are going.
“I think we’ll get better at it as players as the season goes on and I guess it’ll be managed better as well by the staff.”
Roosters v Rabbitohs
Sunday 6 March
The South Sydney Rabbitohs’ NYC (under 20s) side will get their 2016 campaign underway against the Sydney Roosters in the curtain-raiser to the NRL clash this Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
Now under the tutelage of former Rabbitoh, David Penna, the Rabbitohs will be looking to improve on their 2015 season, and with a whole lot of new faces – as well as some familiar ones – the side is poised to do just that.
A vastly extended Rabbitohs side only recently took on the Roosters at the Simply Energy High Performance Centre Redfern Oval, in their first trial of the year.
It would be the Roosters who would come away with the win scoring four tries to two, but the night was all about getting the team’s structures right according to Penna.
“We had a good hit-out against the Roosters,” said the mentor following the match.
“We played three 25 minute thirds – we started well and the boys put in a big effort. It’s been a long 12 weeks (of) pre-season, so I think they were just pleased to get out there and start playing some footy.”