Schick Hydro Preview: Sea Eagles v Rabbitohs
One of these clubs is not like the other, though this may potentially be a game where both sides' fortunes completely reverse.
The Sea Eagles have won their last two games, but have lost halfback Daly Cherry-Evans (syndesmosis) for the next month.
South Sydney, who on the opposite end of the scale have lost their last two, welcome Sam Burgess (neck) back into the fold for his 100th NRL game, and he's brought little brother Tom (knee) along for the ride.
It's not all doom and gloom for the Sea Eagles though, who welcome back Apisai Koroisau (halfback), Martin Taupau (back row), Brenton Lawrence (prop) and Steve Matai (centre) for this Brookvale Oval clash.
Paul Carter and Michael Oldfield have been dropped to an extended bench for their poor showings in the Rabbitohs' 30-point loss to the Bulldogs on Good Friday, with Chris Grevsmuhl and Kirisome Auva'a set to start their first games of the season.
South Sydney will also celebrate Luke Keary's 50th NRL game.
Watch out Sea Eagles: Cherry-Evans will be missed, there's no two ways about it. Interestingly enough Trent Barrett has opted to recall Koroisau rather than recognised half Isaac John. Koroisau has only played in the No. 7 jumper once in his 32 game career. While he produced three try assists that day, it was against wooden spooners Newcastle in the final game of last season – not the best measuring stick.
Watch out Rabbitohs: Let's face it Sam Burgess wouldn't have stopped the Bulldogs onslaught on Good Friday. Having come off a brutal Sydney Cricket Ground encounter with the Dragons only five days prior to playing Canterbury, the Rabbitohs were always going to face an uphill battle. It didn't help that Des Hasler's men were able to make an extra 314 metres and 92 fewer tackles. Here's hoping the six day break has freshened them up.
Key Match-Up: Martin Taupau v Sam Burgess – They're two of the most influential forwards in the competition, let alone their own clubs. After one week hiatuses both men return to spearhead their team's attack. Taupau may consider himself lucky not to be missing the next month so he'll be out to repay the faith, whether or not he maintains his aggressiveness remains to be seen. Burgess was greatly missed last round and he'll be out to make up for lost time up front this week.
The History: Played 136; Sea Eagles 74, Rabbitohs 62. Recent history has been relatively even with each team sharing the spoils in their past six games. They couldn't be separated last year with each coming up with big wins over the other, the Sea Eagles winning their last meeting 28-8 in Round 22, 2015.
What are the Odds: South Sydney have gone from outsiders to favourites following the injury to Cherry-Evans, the money is running at a rate of five-to-one in favour of the Rabbitohs. Souths 1-12 is the way Sportsbet punters are going in margin betting while Aaron Gray dominates betting in the first try scorer market. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee: Gerard Sutton. Assistant Referee: Matt Noyen. Sideline Officials: Nick Beashel and Peter Gough.
Televised: Channel 9 – Live coverage from 7:30pm; Fox Sports 1 – Live coverage from 7:30pm.
The way we see it: Manly's loss of Cherry-Evans will be compounded by the Rabbitohs' Burgii gain. It's as simple as that. You can throw in the facts that the Rabbitohs will be desperate to bounce back from their 30-point flogging and the Sea Eagles were lucky not to be defeated by the winless Roosters last Saturday. Rabbitohs by 10 points.