The Rabbitohs' impressive win over the Roosters has added plenty of spice to the grand final rematch with Jason Demetriou's men looking more assured and ready to exact a measure of revenge for last year's decider.
With Lachlan Ilias looking more comfortable in the No.7 and big game players Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray stepping up when their team needed them, the Bunnies broke their drought in style last Friday.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are 3-0 and doing it all without superstar halfback Nathan Cleary, who is expected to be back on deck this weekend at a packed BlueBet Stadium.
The emergence of young guns Izack Tago and Taylan May is further proof of the depth of talent the premiers have at their disposal and a good sign for later in the season when a number of their senior players will be away on Origin duty.
Sportsbet Betting preview: Panthers v Souths
Panthers: Nathan Cleary, James Fisher-Harris and Liam Martin all make their returns for the premiers. Cleary was named in the No.7 jersey after recovering from his off-season shoulder surgery and in a further boost Fisher-Harris and Martin were added to the starting line-up 60 minutes before kick-off. Cleary's last game was the 2021 grand final on October 3. Scott Sorensen comes into the 17-man squad for Chris Smith, who failed his HIA after he was hit high by Mitch Barnett in Bathurst. Sorensen and Spencer Lenui were initially named in the starting side but will drop back to the bench to accommodate Fisher-Harris (shoulder) and Martin (hip).
Rabbitohs: On the back of an impressive win over the Roosters, coach Jason Demetriou has named an unchanged squad for the grand final rematch. There were no changes in the side named 60 minutes before kick-off.
Match: Panthers v Rabbitohs
Round 4 -
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan EdwardsFullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Latrell Mitchell
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Charlie StainesWinger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex Johnston
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack TagoCentre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Taane Milne
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen CrichtonCentre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Campbell Graham
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Taylan MayWinger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Jaxson Paulo
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome LuaiFive-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan ClearyHalfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Lachlan Ilias
Prop for Panthers is number 8 Matthew EisenhuthProp for Rabbitohs is number 8 Tevita Tatola
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai KoroisauHooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
Prop for Panthers is number 24 James Fisher-HarrisProp for Rabbitohs is number 10 Mark Nicholls
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Keaon Koloamatangi
2nd Row for Panthers is number 19 Liam Martin2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Jai Arrow
Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray
Interchange for Panthers is number 10 Spencer LeniuInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Jacob Host
Interchange for Panthers is number 12 Scott SorensenInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Siliva Havili
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Mitch KennyInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Thomas Burgess
Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman SalmonInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Liam Knight
Replacement for Panthers is number 18 Robert JenningsReplacement for Rabbitohs is number 18 Blake Taaffe
- Referee: Ashley Klein
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins
Api Koroisau v Damien Cook: Elite exponents of the art of dummy-half play and the heartbeat of their respective sides. Apart from their ability to create opportunities with a trademark dart or put a big man into a hole with a pinpoint pass close to the line, Koroisau and Cook plug the middle as well as any hookers in the game. Koroisau has made 113 tackles at 96 per cent efficiency in the opening three rounds while Cook is going at 95 per cent efficiency for his 137 tackles.
The Panthers are renowned for their offloading skills and the Rabbitohs will need to be on high alert to contain the likes of Viliame Kikau (seven offloads in three games) and Isaah Yeo (four offloads). Keaon Koloamatangi and Cameron Murray lead the way in that department for Souths with four offloads each in 2022.