Can the Rabbitohs get the edge over arch rivals and reigning premiers the Roosters in 2014? Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Rabbitohs v Roosters
These two 'ancient' rivals fought out a couple of nail-biting thrillers in 2012 and fittingly kicked off the season in 2013, with the Rabbitohs starting their campaign with a bang with a 28-10 win. But the Roosters would have the last laugh, taking out the minor premiership with a 24-12 win over Souths in Round 26 before going on to take the major premiership as well, after the Bunnies had fallen one hurdle short of the grand final.
There are so many great match-ups between these teams that this is so much more than a clash of two of league's traditional rivals. Adam Reynolds and John Sutton versus Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney in the halves. The Burgess brothers against Kiwi enforcers Sonny Bill Williams, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Souths superstar Greg Inglis matching up against Roosters (and Italy) captain Anthony Minichiello.
Last season went the way of the Roosters, but Souths can make a huge statement about their chances in 2014 with a win here.
Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles
South Sydney's revival as a genuine premiership contender in the past few years has brought them to within one win of the grand final for both the past two years. But close enough isn't good enough when you've been waiting for than four decades for a grand final appearance.
In 2013 the Rabbitohs' season was ended in the preliminary finals at the hands of Manly, who prevailed 30-20 on the last Friday in September. That finals defeat was all the more painful considering Souths had already proven they could beat the Sea Eagles – twice – during the regular season.
This time around, can Greg Inglis outclass Brett Stewart? Will Sam Burgess overpower Anthony Watmough? This match shapes as a cracker for the neutrals as well as the South Sydney faithful.
Rabbitohs v Storm
The Melbourne Storm were the only team to defeat South Sydney twice in 2013 – first by seven points in Sydney in Round 6 and then comfortably 26-8 in Melbourne in Round 22.
Souths had their revenge against Melbourne in the first week of the finals but both teams were surprisingly defeated in their next game – the Rabbitohs knocked out by Manly and the Storm stunned by Newcastle. Both will be desperate to improve on their finishes in 2014, and this match-up gives South Sydney the chance to prove they have progressed after last season.
Souths have a diabolical record in this match-up. They've lost 19 of their 23 matches against the Storm, and have never beaten the Storm in Victoria. In their 11 games against Melbourne south of the border, they've scored just 82 points and conceded 378. If Michael Maguire's men can prevail here the Rabbitohs will know they're capable of defying their recent history.
Check back on NRL.com on Wednesday for details of your team's schedule with the release of the 2014 NRL Draw.