Traditional Rivals Open NRL Season

Picture: Mark Evans/dailytelegraph.com.au
Greg Inglis had a stellar season in 2012. Picture: Mark Evans/dailytelegraph.com.au
Last 5 Meetings

Round 19 2012 – South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 d Sydney Roosters 22 at Allianz Stadium
Round 1 2012 – Sydney Roosters 24 d South Sydney Rabbitohs 20 at ANZ Stadium
Round 19 2011 – South Sydney Rabbitohs 21 d Sydney Roosters 20 at ANZ Stadium
Round 2 2011 – Sydney Roosters 40 d South Sydney Rabbitohs 29 at Sydney Football Stadium
Round 18 2010 – Sydney Roosters 18 d South Sydney Rabbitohs 14 at Sydney Football Stadium

The 2013 NRL season is set to begin with a bang at Allianz Stadium on Thursday night, with Sonny Bill Williams due to play his first NRL match in almost five years when the Sydney Roosters face the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Although the big name signing hasn’t played a trial match for his new club, he is expected to recover from a pectoral muscle injury in time to line up in the season opener. He won’t be the only returning player on show either, with former Test forward Luke O’Donnell set to line up alongside him after two season in the UK Super League, while Michael Jennings and James Maloney will also make their competitive debuts for the tricolours.

Last season’s beaten preliminary finalist Souths welcome Beau Champion back after a year with the Titans and will also unleash Queensland State of Origin representative Ben Te’o against their traditional rivals, having signed the hard running backrower as a replacement for Dave Taylor. Premiership winning prop Jeff Lima is a surprise inclusion on the bench after overcoming injury although Luke Burgess and Matt King are unavailable, but the Rabbitohs will still go into round one full of confidence having fine-tuned their preparations for the new campaign with a 28-10 Charity Shield win over the Dragons on February 22.

1st Tryscorer – Roosters winger Daniel Tupou  burst onto the scene in 2012, being named NSW Cup winger of the year and scoring a hat-trick against Wests Tigers in just his second NRL match in the penultimate round of the season. Known for his aerial prowess, James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce will be sure to put plenty of kicks in his direction.

Greg Inglis  is without a doubt one of the most dangerous runners in the game and will provide plenty of headaches for new Roosters coach Trent Robinson on Thursday night. He will be central to the Rabbitohs attacking raids and Adam Reynolds will look to link up with him at every opportunity.

Prediction – While the Roosters have been impressive during the pre-season and recruited well, Souths were one of the best teams in the competition last season and look to be genuine premiership contenders this time around. They have the better forward pack and shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the ‘Sonny Bill factor’, although it is sure to be a close match  with the past three meetings between the side’s decided by a combined margin of just seven points. Rabbitohs 1-12

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