It's only round one but league lovers everywhere will be salivating at the prospect of seeing these long-time rivals locking horns so early in the season.

New Souths coach Wayne Bennett will be relishing the clash with the premiers, knowing it's the ideal opportunity to see what his team's made of.

The Bunnies looked good in the pre-season and Cameron Murray's performances have eased fears for Bunnies fans who thought Angus Crichton would be hard to replace.

The Roosters played it cool in the pre-season and coach Trent Robinson was happy to let his second-stringers take centre stage.

But make no mistake, the Roosters are the team to beat in 2019.

Match: Roosters v Rabbitohs

Round 1 -

Full Time
Roosters

Home Team

Roosters

Scored 16 points
Rabbitohs

Away Team

Rabbitohs

Scored 26 points

Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

Roosters: The premiers are 1-17 after Matt Ikuvalu and Poasa Faamausili were omitted an hour before kick-off. Star signing Angus Crichton comes off the bench, with Mitchell Aubusson starting in the second row. Brett Morris will line up on the wing after starring in the World Club Challenge in the centres, while Latrell Mitchell also returns after missing the match in Wigan. Nat Butcher and Lachlan Lam were omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick off.

Rabbitohs: The Bunnies are 1-17 after Kyle Turner and Connor Tracey were omitted an hour before kick-off. Braidon Burns is the new face in the back five, named at centre with Dane Gagai shifting to the wing. Tevita Tatola replaces the suspended George Burgess in the front row. Cameron Murray starts at lock with Sam Burgess shifting to an edge to replace Angus Crichton. New signings Ethan Lowe and Corey Allan are named on the bench. Wayne Bennett on Thursday confirmed Greg Inglis was fit to take his place in the centres and that rookie fullback Corey Allan would make his NRL debut on the bench as cover for the backs. Rhys Kennedy and Mawene Hiroti were left out of the squad 24 hours before kick off.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
    Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Alex Johnston
  • Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Dane Gagai
  • Centre for Roosters is number 3 Latrell Mitchell
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Greg Inglis
  • Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Braidon Burns
  • Winger for Roosters is number 5 Brett Morris
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Campbell Graham
  • Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
    Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
  • Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Cooper Cronk
    Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds

Forwards

  • Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Tevita Tatola
  • Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Jake Friend
    Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
  • Prop for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Thomas Burgess
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Boyd Cordner
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 John Sutton
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Mitchell Aubusson
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Sam Burgess
  • Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
    Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray

Interchange

  • Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Isaac Liu
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Liam Knight
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Zane Tetevano
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Mark Nicholls
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Lindsay Collins
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Ethan Lowe
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Angus Crichton
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Corey Allan

Key match-up

Reynolds v Cronk? Walker v Keary? The list goes on, but lets go with the highly anticipated clash of the centre pairings. Latrell Mitchell and Joseph Manu might end up being the most lethal centre duo of the next decade, but Rabbitohs pair Greg Inglis and Dane Gagai are no slouches and will want to make a statement.

For the Roosters to win

If anything the Roosters are a potentially better side than last year's premiership-winning squad, despite the loss of Dylan Napa. They still have strength, mobility and experience in the forwards, while the slick backs present all kinds of defensive challenges for the opposition. If the Chooks weather the Bunnies' early onslaught they should get up.

For the Rabbitohs to win

Sam Burgess has to control his aggression and cut down his turnovers if the Bunnies are going to be a premiership threat - and the season-opener against Souths' arch rivals is a good place to start. The Bunnies are a big chance if they can tame the Roosters forwards and limit the effectiveness of Cronk and Keary.

And another thing

His critics wonder if the game has passed him by, but a fresh start with the Rabbitohs should provide coach Wayne Bennett with new incentive to go out a winner - whenever that may be. After steering the Dragons to grand final success in 2010, Bennett would be savouring the opportunity to win a premiership at rugby league's other world famous club.

Brett Kimmorley says ...

How good is it! Angus Crichton making his NRL debut for the Roosters in The Book of Feuds match. I think the Roosters will be a better side in 2019 than when they won the premiership last year. I'm interested to see how Wayne Bennett goes at South Sydney following the way Seibold had them playing last year. I'm not too sure how that experiment is going to go just yet.
Roosters by 14

Roosters Stat Attack

He showed loads of promise in his rookie season and there seems to be little chance of Victor Radley regressing. Pound for pound, the 20-year-old back-rower has already earned a reputation as one of the NRL's hardest hitters. Radley missed just one game last year, scoring three tries and notching three try assists. He had six line break assists and a tackling efficiency of 87.7%.

Rabbitohs Stat Attack

What a fantastic year last season was for Damien Cook. The 27-year-old hooker earned his State of Origin stripes and played a key role in the Blues' series victory. Souths didn't win the title, but Cook was named Dally M Hooker of the Year and went on to play for Australia. He played in 25 games for the Rabbitohs, chalking up five tries, eight try assists and nine line break assists.

Head to head in the NRL era (since 1998)

  • Played: 38; Roosters 26 wins, Rabbitohs 12 wins
  • Latest result: Roosters won 12-4 in 2018 finals series
  • At this venue: Roosters 33% wins, Rabbitohs 58% wins