The 2023 NRL season is finally here – and the South Sydney Rabbitohs travel to the Sutherland Shire to face off against one of the surprise packets of 2022 on their home turf in a Saturday night blockbuster.

The Script So Far: Rabbitohs vs Sharks

Since 1967 the Rabbitohs and Sharks have done battle in 94 matches played at NRL level, with Cronulla holding a slender 47-42 ledger, with three drawn results.

They also hold the advantage at home with seven wins from the last eight between the two sides, but South Sydney has the recent momentum with four wins from the last six battles overall.

Last time out at Shark Park, the Rabbitohs were pipped in a dramatic match, with the 21-20 result determined in Golden Point, but the men from Redfern struck back when it mattered most in the second week of finals at Allianz Stadium with a blistering 38-12 victory that propelled them into the Preliminary Final.

With those two thrilling contests setting up what will be a must-see for all fans in Round 1, the Rabbitohs and Sharks are creating somewhat of a healthy rivalry heading into 2023, so expect plenty of fireworks when they kick off at 7:35pm.

The Line Ups:

Both sides will field strong line ups to start their 2023 campaign, with some of the game’s superstars littered throughout the Rabbitohs’ and Sharks’ teamlists.

Latrell Mitchell lines up at fullback, joined by Alex Johnston, Isaiah Tass, Campbell Graham and Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson in the backline, with Cody Walker and Lachlan Ilias linking up in the halves for the second year running.

In the forward pack, Junior Tatola and Thomas Burgess line up in the front row as they did in the Charity Shield, with Damien Cook taking hold of the no.9 jersey once again.

Jai Arrow will make his 50th appearance in the famous Red and Green since his debut in Round 1 of the 2021 season, and starts in the back row alongside Keaon Koloamatangi, while captain Cameron Murray ties up the starting line up in the no.13 jersey.

The interchange bench features plenty of versatility, with Blake Taaffe winning the race for the no.14 jersey, taking his place alongside the ever-realiable Michael Chee-Kam, while big boppers Davvy Moale and Shaq Mitchell will be intent on adding plenty of impact when they cross the stripe.

The Sharks will field a similarly strong line up as they did in 2022, but have one notable absentee in halfback and Dally M Medallist Nicho Hynes on the sidelines, with youngster Braydon Trindall taking his place in the no.7 jersey. Their captain Wade Graham starts on the interchange bench.

Key Battle: Boys at the Back

Two of the most dynamic fullbacks come face to face when Latrell Mitchell and Will Kennedy face off.

We all know what Latrell Mitchell can produce from fullback – and the Taree Ferrari looked in top form in his first appearance of the season in the Charity Shield, where he tallied 18 points with six goals and scored a trademark try from the scrum, while averaging more than ten metres per run.

His opposite, Will Kennedy, has established himself as one of the most unheralded fullbacks in the competition, which saw him average 119 metres per game in 2022, setting up six tries and scoring a further seven to propel the Sharks to the top four.

With both sides looking to get on the front foot early, keep an eye on these two custodians to show what they can do on both sides of the ball and ensure they finish Saturday night with the all-important two competition points.

In Conclusion

A win in Round 1 is always a positive to begin the new season, but not imperative for success, and South Sydney will have a worthy test ahead of them as they embark on one of the toughest away trips in the competition.

Shark Park has always been a graveyard of sorts – deep in enemy territory, with chilling winds and a hostile home crowd, but it’s something that Jason Demetriou’s men will be absolutely relishing to kick-start their campaign.

With a strong squad looking to back up their scintillating form from the Charity Shield, the Rabbitohs will be primed for a big performance in order to claim consecutive victories over their southern rivals.

Members and supporters who have purchased tickets to the sold-out match will be treated to a curtain-raiser between the Rabbitohs and Sharks Jersey Flegg sides at 5:20pm, while those looking to catch the main match can watch on either FoxSports or stream via Kayo from 7:35pm AEDT.

Glory, Glory.

Subscribe to Receive The Latest News, Offers & Member Exclusives.