South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold has named Greg Inglis at centre, his first full NRL game back since his knee injury in 2017. Playing at fullback is Alex Johnston, who performed well in the role when given opportunities last season.
Mark Nicholls is named at prop, beating George Burgess to the spot. The former Canberra Raiders and Melbourne Storm front-rower was impressive in the Charity Shield.
Tevita Tatola will make his NRL debut from the bench beating out experienced campaigner Jason Clark. Robbie Farah has been named on an extended bench, with Damien Cook preferred at hooker.
Peta Hiku gets the nod at centre in Stephen Kearney’s New Zealand Warriors team. Anthony Gelling was named in the reserves.
With Simon Mannering out due to injury, Ligi Sao will play at lock. Isaiah Papali’i is named in the back-row and is among seven new faces in the Warriors squad.
Sam Cook is also one of those new faces, named to come off the bench after a solid pre-season.
Key match up: The Rabbitohs welcome back the services of Greg Inglis from a knee reconstruction, and he looked to be back to his devastating best in his 20 minutes during the Charity Shield clash.
While the Warriors announced they have locked up the services of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for the next four years and will be looking for a big game out of their skipper.
For the Warriors to win: Attack, attack, attack. Last season the Warriors got bogged down in completion percentages at the expensive of their natural game. Plenty of offloads and a bit of Shaun Johnson magic is what is needed Saturday night.
For the Rabbitohs to win: Win the battle in the middle third. With the Burgess brothers leading the way, the Rabbitohs have both the experience and the size advantage in the forwards.
Stat attack: Though the Warriors themselves admit they need to play a more expansive style of football, coach Stephen Kearney needs to find a way to do so while maintaining last seasons ball control numbers. They finished season 2017 with the highest overall completion rate at 79.7%, and the equal-fewest errors with 225 (9.4 per game).
Defense needs to be sorted out if South Sydney are any hope of returning to the promise land. The Rabbitohs finished 13th in points conceded (564 points, 23.5 per game) last season as well as conceded the second most tries from the opposition boot, with 21.
The Warriors have lost their last five straight against the Rabbitohs dating back to 2013 and South Sydney head to Perth off the back of some excellent trial form - including the encouraging Charity Shield win over the Dragons.
Rabbitohs by 10.
Match: Rabbitohs v Warriors
Round 1 -
Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth
Perth Stadium, Saturday March 10, 4pm (7pm AEDT)
Head-to-head: Played 31, Warriors 18 wins, Rabbitohs 13 wins.
Last five games:
- Round 24, 2017; South Sydney Rabbitohs def. New Zealand Warriors 36-18.
- Round 23, 2016; South Sydney Rabbitohs def. New Zealand Warriors 41-22.
- Round 13, 2015; South Sydney Rabbitohs def. New Zealand Warriors 36-4.
- Round 13, 2014; South Sydney Rabbitohs def. New Zealand Warriors 34-18.
- Round 17, 2013; South Sydney Rabbitohs def. New Zealand Warriros 30-13.
2017 points per game: Rabbitohs 19.1; Warriors 18.5.
2017 points conceded per game: Rabbitohs: 23.5; Warriors 22.9.
Televised: Live on Fox League
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Richie Kennar, 3 Dane Gagai, 4 Greg Inglis (c), 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Mark Nicholls, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess
Interchange: 14 Cameron Murray, 15 Tyrell Fuimaono, 16 George Burgess, 17 Tevita Tatola
Reserves: 18 Robbie Farah, 19 Jason Clark, 20 Hymel Hunt, 21 Adam Doueihi
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2 David Fusitua, 3 Peta Hiku, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Adam Blair, 11 Isaiah Papali'i, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Ligi Sao
Interchange: 14 Sam Cook, 15 Leivaha Pulu, 16 Sam Lisone, 17 Bunty Afoa
Reserves: 18 Jazz Tevaga, 20 Mason Lino, 21 Agnatius Paasi, 22 Anthony Gelling
Match officials: Main referee: Grant Atkins, Assistant referee: Jon Stone, Sideline officials: Tim Roby, Rickey McFarlane.