Most hype surrounding the round one clash between the Rabbitohs and the Wests Tigers has been focused on Robbie Farah’s first outing against his old club.
However, there’s so much more to be garnered from this clash that we’re officially declaring this a Farah-free zone.
Here’s why we think Souths-Tigers is the Match of the Round this week.
Souths are still largely an enigma
Despite all the trial games we’ve seen over the last month, Souths have only fared the semblance of a full-strength side for the Charity Shield.
And given that was up against a Dragons side that still has a lot of question marks surrounding it, it seems like a dubious test if trying to gauge the merits of the Rabbitohs squad in 2017.
This game will be an early marker for where we can expect Souths to end up this year. And we’ll need to see some real grit, because Souths tend to drop off as the season progresses.
Moses/Brooks back in action
Both have struggled a bit with injury over the offseason and the back of 2016, but this outing is a chance to see what all the fuss is about.
Sadly, it seems that we’ll be in for another year dominated by chatter about these blokes and their futures, with their contracts up at the end of the year.
Both would be eager to pull in the big ones, especially given the trend for splashing the cash at star playmakers and the increase in salary cap room that’s inevitable.
The GI Factor
Greg Inglis looked to be back to his lethal best in the All Stars clash, and as we have seen from his premiership-winning performance in 2014, he’s integral to any hopes that Souths have of succeeding this year.
He’s had trouble with a few niggling knee injuries over the last couple of years, but if he’s back to his best, we could be in for a real treat.
It will be interesting to see how Madge decides to play GI, since Souths have a few strong choices in the backline – just look at young Braidon Burns in the Nines. A competition for spots could be the sort of motivation the side needs to really fire.
One man team?
Going back a few years, critics would be quick to call Souths a one-man team.
At the time, this was with reference to GI, but it’s become apparent in the last season or so that the man who really has Souths’ future in his hands is halfback Adam Reynolds.
Given that Reyno will miss the first month of footy due to appendicitis, this will be a real test for Souths to perform.
Can JT coach?
It’s fair to say that those around the Wests Tigers ranks weren’t particularly happy with how the 2016 season panned out.
There was so much fuss about feuds within the club and bizarre press conferences that really, there wasn’t too much to cheer about if you’re a fan.
A photo of Jason Taylor sitting alone in the stands at the Nines this year seemed to really sum up his run.
This clash will be an insight into what we can expect to see this year from the Tigers, and if JT has what it takes to be a successful first grade coach.
Natalie is an NRL tragic.