Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Struggling South Sydney out to reverse fortunes in ANZAC Round showdown.
For the second Friday in a row the Rabbitohs are at ANZ Stadium, this time taking hosting duties against a rejuvenated Brisbane Broncos. The Bunnies are in free-fall after some surprising early form, having lost three of their last four; while Brisbane are on the rise after downing the Roosters and Titans over consecutive weeks.
In team news the Broncos have made a few changes - reshuffling back to the originally named squad put forward last week despite Thaiday and Sims being benched in favour of Glenn and Ese'ese. Tevita Pangai Jr is missing through injury which sees Ofahnegaue likely to get a chance for the first time this season. Additionally on Thursday they omitted Jordan Kahu through The Rabbitohs are largely unchanged although Hymel Hunt has been named in the reserves and could line up if passed fit.
Conversely, the Rabbitohs had good news with Sam Burgess cleared of a shoulder charge from his side's Good Friday loss to Canterbury. Without him, things were looking dire for a Rabbitohs side already struggling to pack a punch up front. Brisbane were expected to struggle with Ben Hunt sidelined but the inclusion of Kodi Nikorima and his pairing with Anthony Milford have meant the bump was minimal, the Broncos fighting off the Titans to record a two-point win and crucially propel them into sixth spot.
Incredibly their clash at ANZ Stadium last July was just the third between the sides at the venue, and the Broncos' first win there against the Rabbitohs since they moved there in 2006. Overall in 37 clashes since Brisbane's premiership debut in 1988, the Rabbitohs have only nabbed 11 wins to the Broncos' 25.
Who to watch: A̶d̶a̶m̶ ̶R̶e̶y̶n̶o̶l̶d̶s̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶l̶a̶r̶g̶e̶l̶y̶ ̶i̶n̶e̶f̶f̶e̶c̶t̶u̶a̶l̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶R̶a̶b̶b̶i̶t̶o̶h̶s̶ ̶l̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶w̶e̶e̶k̶ ̶-̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶v̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶f̶l̶a̶t̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶t̶t̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶f̶e̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶ ̶w̶h̶o̶l̶e̶ ̶l̶o̶t̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶k̶i̶c̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶g̶a̶m̶e̶.̶ ̶S̶o̶u̶t̶h̶ ̶S̶y̶d̶n̶e̶y̶'̶s̶ ̶s̶o̶l̶e̶ ̶t̶r̶y̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶r̶e̶s̶u̶l̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶d̶i̶v̶i̶d̶u̶a̶l̶ ̶b̶r̶i̶l̶l̶i̶a̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶A̶l̶e̶x̶ ̶J̶o̶h̶n̶s̶t̶o̶n̶,̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶c̶h̶a̶n̶g̶e̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶B̶u̶n̶n̶i̶e̶s̶ ̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶ ̶h̶o̶p̶e̶ ̶a̶g̶a̶i̶n̶s̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶B̶r̶o̶n̶c̶o̶s̶'̶ ̶h̶u̶l̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶w̶a̶r̶d̶ ̶p̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶p̶e̶e̶d̶y̶ ̶b̶a̶c̶k̶l̶i̶n̶e̶.̶ ̶R̶e̶y̶n̶o̶l̶d̶s̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶k̶e̶y̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶-̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶l̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶h̶e̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶s̶ ̶g̶o̶o̶d̶ ̶s̶e̶r̶v̶i̶c̶e̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶w̶a̶r̶d̶s̶.̶
Reynolds' withdrawal with a hip injury throws the Bunnies into disarray - but it could be a boon. Cody Walker shifts into 7, with John Sutton returning to his former role as five-eighth. How 'Sutto' performs for the red and green will be of interest after so long in the back row, but it does deliver Kyle Turner back to the back row and George Burgess back into the starting side. Hymel Hunt is also back with Braidon Burns dropped.
He's probably the player to watch most weeks, but James Roberts was the matchwinner against his former club last weekend, and there's no reason he can't do similar damage up against South Sydney this weekend. He'd have expected to have more than four tries so far this season after seven rounds, but given the Broncos' relatively low points total so far this season, he remains the most prolific amongst his teammates. Watch for his explosive running to deliver for the Broncos once more.
The favourite: Brisbane are favourites despite being on the road.
1. Alex Johnston 21. Hymel Hunt 3. Siosifa Talakai 4. Robert Jennings 5. Bryson Goodwin 11. John Sutton 6. Cody Walker 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Damien Cook 17. George Burgess 10. Kyle Turner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Sam Burgess 14. Robbie Farah 15. Jason Clark 16. Zane Musgrove 19. Cameron Murray
1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. James Roberts 4. Tautau Moga 17. David Mead 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 16. Herman Essese 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Adam Blair 14. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh Mcguire 8. Korbin Sims 11. Sam Thaiday 15. Joe Ofahengaue 21. Jonus Pearson