Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
NRL competition resumes with Tigers hosting Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium.
After a weekend off from club footy to accommodate rep round, both the Wests Tigers and South Sydney Rabbitohs will be looking to hit the ground running as they aim for their first win at the Tigers' new home.
Thursday's hosts have lost both their games at the new stadium and failed to notch a single point in their big loss to the Raiders. They host three straight home games at the venue starting this week, so will be particularly keen to put in a strong performance on Thursday night.
Despite being mostly inconsistent this year, the Tigers are sitting equal eighth on the ladder and went into the weekend off with an away victory over the Cowboys in Townsville.
Tigers coach Michael Maguire has been forced into a change from the team that ran out that night with Ben Matulino ruled out with a minor knee injury. Josh Aloiai will start up front and Elijah Taylor earns a recall via the interchange. The only other change sees Chris Lawrence back in the run-on side in the second-row which pushes Michael Chee-Kam back to the bench.
South Sydney meanwhile, will be searching for their first win since downing the Tigers at ANZ Stadium a month ago after suffering three straight losses in a tough period which has seen their depth tested due to injury and rep duties.
Coach Wayne Bennett's squad has been boosted by the injury returns of halfback Adam Reynolds, centre Braidon Burns and prop George Burgess. The trio's return will see Adam Doueihi, Tom Amone and Rhys Kennedy drop out of the squad with the latter making a mid-season switch to the Broncos this week. Alex Johnston returned before the bye but looks likely to drop out of the side.
Last meeting: Round 11 2019 - Rabbitohs 32 Wests Tigers 16
The Rabbitohs prevailed on a night where Cameron Murray scored a double. Reynolds scored a slashing first half try before suffering a minor leg injury which ruled him out of Origin contention prior to game one.
Who to watch: Kicking the winning field-goal a fortnight ago and being recalled for New Zealand after seven years for last week's Test victory over Tonga, it's fair to say Benji Marshall is on an emotional high in what could be his final year in the game. At the centre of everything the Tigers have done well this year, expect the veteran five-eighth to carry on his good form on Thursday night. Wound back the clock the last time these teams met with a vintage no-look inside pass setting up a try for Corey Thompson. Benji controlling the ship will be key to the Tigers chances of causing an upset in this one.
Reportedly on the cusp of winning the race to be New South Wales halfback before game one before injury ruled him out of contention, it's surprising Adam Reynolds name hasn't yet been mentioned following the injury to Nathan Cleary. Named to return from the back injury that has ruled him out of the Rabbitohs last two losses, Reynolds' focus will be on getting his club side's season back on track, but the void left in the Blues game two winning side will no doubt be in the back of his mind.
The favourite: The second-placed Rabbitohs are considered strong favourites to return to winning ways on the back of some big inclusions to their line-up.
My tip: Expecting the Rabbitohs to bounce back with a strong win here. Bennett should have his troops primed to re-ignite their season and the return of Reynolds steering the side around is a big IN. The Tigers are capable of making a game of it if they bring their best, but Souths should still prove too strong. Rabbitohs by 10.
1. Corey Thompson 2. Robert Jennings 3. Moses Mbye 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 21. Oliver Clark 9. Robbie Farah 10. Alex Twal 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Elijah Taylor 17. Michael Chee-Kam
18. Corey Allen 2. Dane Gagai 3. James Roberts 4. Braidon Burns 5. Campbell Graham 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. George Burgess 9. Damien Cook 10. Liam Knight 11. John Sutton 12. Ethan Lowe 13. Cameron Murray 14. Tevita Tatola 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Dean Britt 17. Kyle Turner
Referees: Adam Gee, Gavin Badger; Sideline Officials: Nick Morel, Chris Sutton; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Bryan Norrie;