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The game I circle: Shaun Kenny-Dowall

In terms of traditional rivalries in the NRL they don't come much fiercer – or much more traditional – than the one between close neighbours and fellow foundation clubs, the Roosters and the Rabbitohs.

That rivalry was only amplified in 2013 as the two old clubs finished first and second on the ladder. And in a promoter's dream come true, the J.J. Giltinan Shield was to be decided in a head-to-head match between the two in Round 26.

As history now shows, the Roosters avenged their Round 1 loss to Souths by claiming the minor premiership with a 24-12 win before going on to take the 2013 title.

Those Round 1 and Round 26 meetings that bookended the regular season were among the most ferocious we saw, with two of the competition's biggest forward packs leaving little in the tank. In particular, the one-on-one battle between South Sydney's English Test enforcer Sam Burgess and New Zealand Test star Sonny Bill Williams was one of the highlights of the season.

Fans won't have to wait long for a resumption in hostilities as the tricolours kick off the 2014 season with a visit to ANZ Stadium to meet the cardinal and myrtle.

Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall doesn't hesitate in nominating the traditional season opener against South Sydney as the clash he most looks forward to.

"I love the first round against Souths, traditionally every year we play them in the first round," he said.

"Everyone in the area and everyone in Sydney is excited about rugby league coming back, all the boys have trained hard all year and it's the first round and it's the one I look forward to the most, definitely."

With the clubs boasting two of the competition's biggest packs it will again no doubt be a "brutal encounter," he said.

"They're definitely some of the toughest characters going around in the NRL and that's what the crowd loves to come and see, those big tough guys coming at it through the middle and you have to admire how tough those guys are."

But as someone who gets to "sit out wide in the centres" away from the biggest collisions, Kenny-Dowall said the chance to come up against one of the game's best in Rabbitohs fullback Greg Inglis helps him lift to the occasion.

"Every time you play Souths you've got to look forward to playing Greg Inglis because of the athlete he is. He's one of the best in the game, and to be the best you have to beat the best – I love coming up against him," he said.

The rivalry between the fans also adds to the occasion. "It's always nice to get one over Souths, living in our area it's definitely the game that everyone talks about: 'our team's better than your team, our team's finishing ahead of your team', so it definitely does have that extra bit of flavour and we always love finishing above them," he said.

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