Round 2: Broncos v Rabbitohs preview
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.
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.