Rabbitohs v Broncos preview

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South Sydney Rabbitohs v Brisbane Broncos Thursday 7:50pm at Accor Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park

Rabbitohs chase Broncos get-square

Both the Rabbitohs and Broncos enter Round-9 with an identical four-and-four win-loss record.

For Kevin Walters, after just seven victories in 2021, it's a dream start. For Jason Demetriou and his top-four regulars, it could well be the cusp of a nightmare.

The trouble for South Sydney started at Suncorp back in Round-1. That night against the odds, the Broncos held firm and kicked on after lights out. Since then the Rabbitohs have coughed and sputtered their way to sixth spot on the ladder.

Now for the first time on Thursday night, Adam Reynolds for so long the red-and-green linchpin, gets the chance to show his former teammates what they've been missing.

It promises plenty, and given both clubs have a soft draw in the fortnight that follows, a win here could be a crucial step in a season-defining run.

Coming off a heartbreaking on-point loss to the Tigers, Souths bounced back last week to down a 12-man Sea Eagles. Despite the extra player, they left it late before eventually controlling the middle.

Now back at Homebush, the Rabbitohs once again hold all the aces in the pack. Payne Haas is a massive out for Brisbane, and it's not just last season's Dally M Prop of the Year they'll miss. Injury also prevents the reliable Kurt Capewell from boarding the bus.

On the plus side, pocket-rocket backrower TC Robati comes in for Capewell while Patrick Carrigan slides into Haas' boots. The only change to the Rabbitohs' top-17 is the addition of bench prop Liam Knight.

Centre Isaiah Tass retains his place on Souths' lethal left edge, but it will be the two-gamer's battle with a rampant Kotoni Staggs that could decide the contest. Against the Sharks, the Origin hopeful's solo effort heading into the break proved decisive in Brisbane's low scoring victory.

With a win over Canterbury, Brisbane are already one-from-one at the Olympic venue this season, but it's the Rabbitohs who hold the advantage having won five of the past seven against the Broncos including three of the past four at Accor.

Last meeting: Round 1 2022 - Broncos 11 Rabbitohs 4

Who to watch: Compared to 2021, Cody Walker is down on key stats and if chat and niggle were measured, he'd be down on that too. Last week's try and two try-assists were a season best, albeit against a depleted opposition.

Now as he prepares to face his long time playmaking partner, expect the excitable No.6 to pack the yappy teeth and bounce onto the park like it's his own backyard.

If not for Staggs' demolition of Cronulla, Adam Reynolds would have scored more recognition. Not only is the halfback looking more comfortable in Brisbane colours by the week, so are his teammates.

And if there is a preferred venue where the Broncos skipper would like to face his old club, surely it's Accor Stadium - the old Stadium Australia. Some call it the Cavern, for Reynolds it doesn't matter, this will be his 100th NRL appearance at the venue, and with 28 wins from his last 34 outings, no-one knows it better.

The favourite: South Sydney are short odds to reverse their unexpected first round loss.

My tip: A surprise win over Cronulla shows Kevvie Walters has Brisbane on the right track, but one of the last sides he'd want to face without Payne Haas is South Sydney. And if that's not enough, the Broncos have only one victory without the Blues prop since the start of last season. Rabbitohs by 8.

1. Blake Taaffe 2. Alex Johnston 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 19. Taane Milne 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 24. Davvy Moale 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jai Arrow 13. Cameron Murray 14. Siliva Havili 16. Liam Knight 17. Jaxson Paulo 18. Trent Peoples 21. Peter Mamouzelos

1. Te Maire Martin 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Corey Jensen 9. Billy Walters 10. Patrick Carrigan 11. TC Robati 12. Jordan Riki 13. Kobe Hetherington 14. Cory Paix 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Thomas Flegler 17. Keenan Palasia 18. Brenko Lee

Referees: Grant Atkins; Sideline Officials: Kasey Badger, Drew Oultram; Video Referees: Ashley Klein;

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