The Rabbitohs chalked up their 10th win of the season last week, overcoming the loss of halfback Adam Reynolds during the game.
Reynolds could end up sitting out this game to be on the safe side, but his leg injury wasn't as bad as he initially feared and he will do everything he can to be fit, especially with the Bunnies losing four players to Origin.
They've handled being without key players all season but this Round 12 encounter will test their depth like no other game thus far.
The Eels are officially in a slump, losing four of their past five games.
On the plus side they have no players on Origin duty, allowing Brad Arthur to pick his strongest side available.
Eels: Brad Arthur has taken a hard line after last week's shock loss to Penrith, dropping Tim Mannah, Brad Takairangi, Daniel Alvaro and George Jennings to the reserves. Michael Jennings is back at right centre, Josh Hoffman moves to right centre, while Blake Ferguson is back on the wing. Kane Evans has been named to start at prop, Manu Ma'u shifts from lock to back row, Marata Niukore drops to the bench, while Tepi Moeroa is back from concussion and is the new starting lock. George Jennings and Alvaro were omitted 24 hours before kick-off and Takairangi and Mannah were cut an hour before game time. Parra have lost three straight.
Rabbitohs: Not surprisingly, the Bunnies have been affected by Origin. Adam Doueihi comes in at centre for Maroon Dane Gagai and Connor Tracey will debut at five-eighth in place of the Blues' Cody Walker. The hooking role will be filled by another debutant, Billy Brittain, while Junior Tatola has been named at lock to cover for Blues debutant Cameron Murray. Bayley Sironen has been elevated to the bench. Dean Hawkins was omitted on Thursday night while Jacob Gagan and Keaon Koloamatangi made way an hour before kick-off. The Rabbitohs have won 10 of their 11 games.
Shaun Lane earned rave reviews when the Eels were winning but he's cooled off like the rest of his team over the past month. The lanky back-rower can expect a torrid battle with Bunnies brute Sam Burgess and a clash with the competition leaders is as good a time as any to to get back to his best form.
For the Eels to win
After three straight losses this weekend is huge for Parra and could make or break their season. The forwards need to stand up in a big way against Burgess and the rest of the hard-running Souths pack, while Mitch Moses and and Clint Gutherson have to start firing on all cylinders again and put their stamp on the game.
For the Rabbitohs to win
With four players named for the Origin opener and Adam Reynolds under an injury cloud, this will be the Bunnies' toughest test yet. Whoever Wayne Bennett selects has big shoes to fill, so it'll be up to Sam Burgess and John Sutton to provide leadership through their words and actions. The bottom line is that the pressure is all on Parra on Friday, a fact Bennett will make sure his players are aware of.
Brett Kimmorley says
Parramatta have really fallen off. They are faltering when the game is on the line, coming up with mistakes, overplaying their hand and giving penalties away. They are beating themselves at the moment. For South Sydney, Wayne Bennett is a coach that will know how to deal with the rep period. They have a couple of really good kids in the Canterbury Cup who I am looking forward to seeing in the NRL. Rabbitohs by 2
Cody Walker's 11 tries is tops in the league, while Adam Reynolds is the leading goal-kicker (46). Damien Cook leads the NRL in try assists (14), receipts (1,334) and dummy-half runs (98). Cook was superb in Saturday night's win over the Tigers, finishing with a try, two line break assists, two try assists, a line break and a team-high 48 tackles.
And another thing ...
Blake Ferguson wouldn't be pleased about missing an Origin recall but he hasn't been the same damaging force he was earlier in the season. He was definitely in line for a Blues spot a few weeks ago but Parra's recent run of losses and a drop in his own form buried his chances of selection. The Eels need Ferguson back to his best on Friday.