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Newcastle will be hoping to hop off their 2020 roller-coaster when they travel to Bankwest Stadium to take on a much more consistent Rabbitohs outfit. 

The Knights have alternated wins and losses since drawing with Penrith when the competition resumed in round three while Souths have won four of five, including their past two, to sit just one point behind fifth-placed Newcastle.

A string of injuries and a recent emphasis on shoring up their defensive structures at training has seen Newcastle's attack splutter, the Knights putting just 18 points on the board in their two most recent outings.

The Rabbitohs are unbeaten in "home" games this season, winning for from four, while Newcastle are three and one on the road despite their recent struggles.

The Rundown

Team news

Rabbitohs: Prop Mark Nicholls is free to take his bench position after successfully challenging the grading of a dangerous contact charge at the judiciary on Tuesday.

Fullback Latrell Mitchell (suspension), centre Campbell Graham (facial fracture) and forward Liam Knight (ankle) are out, with Alex Johnston switching to fullback, Dane Gagai moving to centre and a new wing pairing called up in Corey Allan and debutant Jaxson Paulo. The Rabbitohs have won nine of their past 10 games against the Knights.

Steven Marsters and Cory Denniss were omitted from the reserves 24 hours before kick-off and Jack Johns and Kurt Dillion were cut on game day.

Knights: Jacob Saifiti starts at prop for his injured twin Daniel (knee). Connor Watson (ankle), Mitch Barnett (neck) and Sione Mata'utia (head knock) all return on the bench with Tex Hoy and Brodie Jones making way. The Knights have conceded their fewest number of tries after nine rounds since 2002.

Josh King and Phoenix Crossland were trimmed from the extended squad an hour before kick-off after Hoy and Gehamat Shibasaki were omitted on Friday.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Alex Johnston
    Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
  • Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Jaxson Paulo
    Winger for Knights is number 2 Enari Tuala
  • Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 James Roberts
    Centre for Knights is number 3 Tautau Moga
  • Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Dane Gagai
    Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
  • Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Corey Allan
    Winger for Knights is number 5 Hymel Hunt
  • Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
    Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Kurt Mann
  • Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds
    Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce

Forwards

  • Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Tevita Tatola
    Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
  • Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
    Hooker for Knights is number 9 Andrew McCullough
  • Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Thomas Burgess
    Prop for Knights is number 10 Jacob Saifiti
  • 2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Jaydn Su'A
    2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
  • 2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Ethan Lowe
    2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Aidan Guerra
  • Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray
    Lock for Knights is number 13 Herman Ese'ese

Interchange

  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Mark Nicholls
    Interchange for Knights is number 14 Connor Watson
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Hame Sele
    Interchange for Knights is number 15 Mitchell Barnett
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Bayley Sironen
    Interchange for Knights is number 16 Pasami Saulo
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Patrick Mago
    Interchange for Knights is number 17 Sione Mata'utia

Key match-up

Damien Cook v Andrew McCullough: Origin hooker Cook is slowly increasing in influence as the Rabbitohs refine their ruck tactics under the new rules while McCullough is settling nicely into his new home at Newcastle after a mid-season transfer with burrowing tries in his past two games.

Whichever veteran can provide the most spark from dummy-half will go a long way towards giving their team the upper hand. 

Stat Attack

The Rabbitohs lead the 2020 premiership in intercepts, snagging opponents' passes on eight occasions (a rate of just under one a game) which is almost double the second-placed Bulldogs and Storm (five). The Knights, in contrast, sit a lowly 13th in that category with just two interceptions.