Rabbitohs v Broncos: Murray back for suspended Burgess
While their 4-3 record isn't the best in the competition Souths have been one of the form teams over the past fortnight, upstaging the Roosters in round six and thumping the Raiders last week.
Sam Burgess is suspended again, but the forwards are doing the job expected of them and the Bunnies backs have excelled recently. Five-eighth Cody Walker has been particularly damaging, while centres Greg Inglis and Dane Gagai have come into their own lately.
Plenty of critics question the Bunnies' offensive prowess, though it might come as a surprise that they rank second behind the Dragons in points scored.
After upsetting the Warriors in round six, the Broncos were humbled by the Storm last week. They competed hard and probably would've beaten most teams with such a determined effort, but the Storm were always a step ahead. Defence should be a big talking point for the Broncos at training this week.
Match: Rabbitohs vs Broncos
Round 8 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
South Sydney Rabbitohs v Brisbane Broncos, 7.50pm Thursday at ANZ Stadium
Key match-up: Earlier this week Jack Bird publicly stated how much he wants to stay in the halves and that he had asked Wayne Bennett to stick by him. He also has the support of Andrew Johns, who reportedly is backing Bird to be the NSW Origin five-eighth. He is up against one of the more underrated five-eighths in Cody Walker on Thursday, but the players know what Walker can do. Walker is in sizzling form and has shown he isn't easily rattled, even against the so-called big names.
For the Rabbitohs to win: The Bunnies have simplified their attack in 2018 and it's paying dividends. Even without suspended enforcer Sam Burgess, confidence is sky-high at Redfern and the forwards just need to keep doing their job and give the points-hungry backs room to create.
For the Broncos to win: The Broncos proved they can still pull together when they need to with the recent round six road win over the Warriors. If they can match the Bunnies' power up front, halves Bird and Anthony Milford are more than capable of causing problems, while James Roberts and Tom Opacic need to shine against one of the best centre combinations in the business.
Rabbitohs stat attack: Souths have won six of their past eight at ANZ Stadium, while Alex Johnston has racked up 18 tries in nine games at ANZ Stadium.
Broncos stat attack: Brisbane have beaten the Bunnies in their past five meetings, with winger Corey Oates scoring seven tries in his past five games against Souths.
And another thing: Souths captain Greg Inglis reaches a significant milestone on Thursday when he plays his 250th NRL game, while prop Tom Burgess notches his 100th NRL game. Inglis spent his first six seasons with the Storm before joining the Bunnies in 2011.
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Richie Kennar, 3 Greg Inglis (c), 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 George Burgess, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Cameron Murray
Interchange: 14 Adam Doueihi, 15 Mark Nicholls, 16 Jason Clark, 17 Tevita Tatola
Hymel Hunt and Kyle Turner were the last two players to drop off the bench 24 hours out from kick-off. Cameron Murray returns from a hamstring strain to replace Sam Burgess (suspension, 2 weeks) at lock. Adam Doueihi is recalled on the bench in place of Hymel Hunt. Robbie Farah and Campbell Graham were the two players to drop off the bench 24 hours prior to the kick-off.
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 18 Tom Opacic, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Jack Bird, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Josh McGuire, 10 Sam Thaiday, 11 Alex Glenn, 12 Jaydn Su'a, 13 Tevita Pangai jnr
Interchange: 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 16 Kodi Nikorima, 17 Korbin Sims, 25 Payne Haas
Payne Haas will make his NRL debut via the bench after Sam Tagataese and Jonus Pearson were the two players dropped from the squad 24 hours out from kick-off. Josh McGuire starts at hooker for Andrew McCullough (elbow, 4-6 weeks) with Tevita Pangai jnr moving to starting lock. Jaydn Su'A starts in the back row for Korbin Sims (bench) while Jack Bird and Anthony Milford swap the No.6 and 7 jerseys. Todd Murphy and Patrick Mago were the two players to drop off the bench 24 hours out from kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 36; Broncos 26 wins, Rabbitohs 9 wins, 1 draw
Matches at venue: Played 8; Broncos 6 wins, Rabbitohs 2 wins
2017 results: Broncos won 25-24 at ANZ Stadium in round 8 and 24-18 at Suncorp Stadium in round 14
Points per game: Rabbitohs 24; Broncos 16.6
Points conceded per game: Rabbitohs 17.7; Broncos 22
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Steve Turner's prediction: I was really impressed with the display from South Sydney last weekend and although the Rabbitohs will be without Sam Burgess, I feel the loss of Andrew McCullogh is a bigger blow for the Bronocos who have really struggled to find consistency in their performances. Greg Inglis celebrates his 250th NRL game and with an opportunity to cement a top eight spot, the Bunnies will be too good. South Sydney by 10.