South Sydney and Penrith have met in some entertaining, high-stakes battles in recent seasons. There is generally little between the two sides, with five of the last seven games decided by six points or less.

This is why all eyes will be on Accor Stadium this Thursday night, as these two sides do battle for the first time in season 2024.

Rabbitohs vs Panthers games are rarely just an ordinary game of rugby league, and this week’s encounter will certainly be no ordinary game for South Sydney hooker Damien Cook.

After over a decade in the NRL, Cook will have the honour of taking the field for his 200th NRL game.

This is quite the milestone for Cook, who debuted in first grade for St George Illawarra in 2013 before spending two years at the Bulldogs. The speedy dummy-half then found his way to the Rabbitohs in 2016, where he has played the remainder of his career to date.

Since joining the Rabbitohs, Cook has gone on to play 17 times for NSW and four for Australia, cementing himself as one of the top hookers in the game during this period.

There will certainly be no better way for him and his teammates to celebrate this huge milestone than with a victory over the defending premiers on Thursday.

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Rabbitohs will take plenty of confidence out of the last time they met the Panthers – a tick over a year ago, during Anzac Round 2023. Not only did the Red and Green get the two points that day, but they did so in truly memorable fashion in what was an incredible game of rugby league.

It took some serious brilliance from South Sydney playmakers Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker to overcome Penrith, who lead 18-10 with just over five minutes left on the clock.

Latrell scored in the 77th minute (his second try of the night) after gathering in a high kick in the in-goal to get Souths to within two points of the Panthers.

It was then Isaiah Tass who sealed the deal for South Sydney, capitalising on a brilliant Cody Walker run (and an even better pass) to cross the stripe just two minutes later to put the score at 20-18.

Rabbitohs Incredible Comeback vs Panthers 2023

There are some slight changes to the Rabbitohs side for this week’s clash from the team that was named last week.

27-year-old Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson returns to the side for his second NRL start of the year, taking the place of the suspended Taane Milne.

Tu’itupou Thompson brings plenty of power and work ethic from the back field, and ran for 160m in his last NRL game, notching up four tackle busts and scoring a try in the process. He’ll be looking to add to his try tally for 2024 in his return to the NRL this week.

Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson's Try vs Warriors, 2024

After shifting to the front row prior to kick-off last week, Keaon Koloamatangi has been named to start in that position, alongside Davvy Moale who came off the bench in last week’s game. Thomas Burgess drops back to the bench to accommodate Moale’s selection in the starting side.

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