Starting at number six for just the second time this year, Benji Marshall will overtake Adam Blair’s record for the most NRL premiership matches played by a New Zealand-born player in his 332nd NRL match, against the Canberra Raiders on Thursday night.
But can the 2005 Premiership winner, and outright Wests Tigers folklore hero, continue his form to help the Bunnies to another win or will Raiders and Jack Wighton flick the switch?
Marshall was the difference in South Sydney’s round seven clash against the Titans scoring two tries and sending a behind the body flick pass to Alex Johnston to set up an additional try. Yes – like THAT pass from 2005.
The Rabbitohs will need Marshall to step up as a leader once again if they are to come away with a win at GIO Stadium.
Sitting at third on the ladder the Rabbitohs season has kicked off to a flying start despite injuries and a number of suspensions. However, much like Melbourne Storm, the Raiders have become somewhat of a bogey team for the Rabbitohs, winning just three of the past 10 clashes, with the two most recent losses being in Canberra.
After two slow starts in a row, South Sydney will want to come away with a strong start rather than once again come back from behind and with Adam Reynolds and Marshall finally seeming to find their groove together, there’s no reason for Souths to start on the back foot for a third week in a row.
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Having lost four of their past five matches the Raiders will be looking to get their season back on track. Strong performances by Jack Wighton and George Williams will be essential if the Raiders hope to win.
If the pair can return to their best form the Rabbitohs defence will have their hands full, Wighton particularly looked stronger in last week’s two-point loss to the Cowboys, with 94 metres off of 12 runs Wighton was crucial in setting up a try.
With six tries this season Jordan Rapana will be a natural scoring option for the Raiders, with two line breaks and eight tackle breaks in addition to his two tries, Rapana was by far the Raiders best player going forward last round.
The main issue for Canberra will be combatting South Sydney’s attacking left hand side, with last year’s top try scorer Alex Johnston looking deadly when he receives the ball inside 20 metres on the left hand side.
South Sydney will have to go without Tevita Tatola this weekend after the 24-year-old failed a midweek HIA-test. To replace Tatola, Jai Arrow has been promoted to the starting lineup and Patrick Mago will come into the side on the bench.
Joseph Tapine will come in to replace rested Josh Papalii for Canberra, meanwhile Sebastian Kris will need to make up for the loss of Jarrod Croker in the centres due to a shoulder injury.