Broncos v Rabbitohs preview

NRL2021
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Brisbane Broncos v South Sydney Rabbitohs Friday 8:05pm at Suncorp Stadium

One year on, does the coach-swap battle still pack a punch?

At the end of 2018, Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold swapped polo shirts and took the reins of their respective clubs, and in 2019, it was Bennett and his charges at South Sydney who dominated - a 38-6 win in Sydney and scraping home 22-20 in Brisbane late in the year.

The question in 2020 is can Brisbane and their start forward-pack break open a Rabbitohs side who've lost their starch up front and are relying on stars in the backline and halves to produce the goods?

Working against Seibold and his Broncos outfit, who are last start winners after a stirring 28-21 win over the Cowboys on Friday, is the suspension of Tevita Pangai Junior. His omission brings in one-gamer Jamil Hopoate to the starting second row and looks to have handed Ethan Bullemor a debut.

On the flipside, South Sydney's 17 that held on to beat a resurgent Sharks last Saturday is the same this week, stability that Bennett will be very happy with.

As with all other matches this weekend, this match is subject to the NRL's COVID-19 response, and will be played with no spectators present at Suncorp Stadium.

Last meeting: Round 23 2019 - Broncos 20 Rabbitohs 22

The head-to-head ledger between these sides is a symptom of the era in which the Broncos entered the competition and dominated the 1990's - they've won 29 of the 45 matches played since 1988, while Souths have been victorious just 13 times.

South Sydney won both matches in 2019 - but prior to that hadn't beaten Brisbane since the opening round of the 2015 season.

Who to watch: The halves will decide this one - Anthony Milford and Brodie Croft worked well for Brisbane in the season opener, purring along and directing traffic behind a solid pack last Friday. While the absence of Pangai might dent their impact, the bigger question to be answered this week and indeed all season is - have the Broncos finally solved their halves dilemma?

South Sydney's halves are well-heralded. Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds are fantastic players, but when the Bunnies' weakened pack grew tired last Saturday, they - along with Damien Cook - failed to get their side to fire. Whether that concerned Bennett enough remains to be seen (given no changes to the lineup), but if the pack tires toward the tail end of the game again, Brisbane will be much harder to stop than the Sharks were.

The favourite: The market is split on this one with both sides winners last weekend and the 'home ground advantage' for Brisbane just about removed with the lack of crowd.

My tip: Bennett's record over Seibold stands out here and he'll have the Rabbitohs fired up and ready. Rabbitohs by 2.


1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Darius Boyd 5. Jesse Arthars 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Jamil Hopoate 13. Patty Carrigan 14. Herbie Farnworth 15. Andrew McCullough 16. Rhys Kennedy 17. Ethan Bullemor

1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Dane Gagai 3. James Roberts 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su'A 12. Cameron Murray 13. Liam Knight 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Ethan Lowe 16. Hame Sele 17. Alex Johnston


Referees: Grant Atkins, Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Todd Smith, Nick Beashel; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Ben Galea;



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