Another former South Sydney coach takes on the Rabbitohs this week and you can be sure Michael Maguire would love nothing more than to beat his old team.
Despite being relatively well placed with a 5-5 record, the Wests Tigers let a game slip from their grasp for the second time this season, when they lost 24-22 to the Storm after leading all the way until the dying minutes.
The Tigers boast a skilful and experienced spine and will continue to be a tough nut to crack if they can remain injury-free.
Souths moved into outright first on the ladder with last week's impressive road win over Canberra and will probably like their chances against the Tigers.
Rabbitohs: Junior Tatola starts for George Burgess as usual in South Sydney's only change. Jacob Gagan and Bayley Sironen dropp off the reserves list, while
Billy Brittain was cut from the reserves 24 hours out from kick-off.
Wests Tigers: With Moses Mbye (groin) out Corey Thompson starts at fullback wiht David Nofoluma on the wing. Elijah Taylor drops off the extended bench.Paul Momirovski is in the centres with Robert Jennings moving to wing and Mahe Fonua dropped. Oliver Clark and Luke Garner were omitted from the reserves on Friday night.
More like key match-ups, because Cook v Farah will be a ripper, as will Reynolds v Brooks. But the standout duel is between Cody Walker - one of the NRL's top five hottest players - and veteran five-eighth Benji Marshall. Marshall has been in terrific form since returning from injury and will relish his battle with the Rabbitohs' money man.
For the Rabbitohs to win
It'll be interesting to see how the Bunnies physically recover from last week's brutal encounter with the Raiders. As long as there's not too many bruises, the Souths pack looms as a major threat to the Wests Tigers, while Wayne Bennett's makeshift back-line continues to shine. As long as they have Sam Burgess, Damien Cook, Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker on the field, the Rabbitohs can take on anyone.
For the Tigers to win
The opening 15 minutes will provide a good indication of the Tigers' mindset and if they've recovered from last week's heart-breaker against Melbourne. They need to hold their own up front against the Bunnies' unrelenting forwards, while Marshall and Brooks must provide steady direction and strong kicking games. The Tigers will be hoping Cody Walker finally has a bad game.
Brett Kimmorley says
Souths are top of the ladder and are flying now. I'm looking forward to seeing Damien Cook come up against Robbie Farah – two great running dummy-halves. Both dummy-halves are really important to their sides but they can only run if their forwards win some play-the-balls and create some havoc, so I think the forwards will be where this game will be decided. Rabbitohs by 6.
The Wests Tigers scratched out an impressive 22-6 upset of the Bunnies in their first meeting last season before Souths got some payback with a 51-10 demolition job. Dane Gagai has been a rock for the Rabbitohs in 2019, appearing in all 10 games and averaging 127 running metres. The only surprise is Gagai scoring just one try in those 10 matches. Walker has 11 from 10.
And another thing ...
Cameron Murray has probably done enough to secure a spot on Brad Fittler's bench for the Origin opener. At just 21, Murray displays toughness and maturity beyond his years on a weekly basis for the competition-leading Bunnies. Fittler is an unabashed Murray fan and wants players in form for the Blues' title defence.