The pre-season always feels like it never ends and it’s been no different in 2016.
The time has finally come for kick off, as the Roosters prepare to do battle with their greatest rival, the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
After missing the traditional clash in 2015, the Round 1 rivalry returns and both sides will be looking to write another chapter on Sunday afternoon.
Last time they went head-to-head in Round 1 on a Sunday was in 2010, and the Roosters would come away with bragging rights on that occasion with a 36-10 win.
In Round 2 of the 2015 season, the two teams played at ANZ Stadium on a Sunday afternoon, and the Rabbitohs would win that one 34-26.
It’s no secret that the Roosters are missing some firepower, but this young and enthusiastic side have had an impressive pre-season and are ready to fire in 2016.
The Rabbitohs are missing some talent as well, so let’s look at the sides and discuss key-matchups.
1 Blake Ferguson | Greg Inglis
2 Daniel Tupou | Alex Johnston
3 Dale Copley | Bryson Goodwin
4 Shaun Kenny-Dowall | Hymel Hunt
5 Latrell Mitchell | Aaron Gray
6 Jayden Nikorima | Cody Walker
7 Jackson Hastings | Adam Reynolds
8 Kane Evans | Sam Burgess
9 Jake Friend (c) | Cameron McInnes
10 Dylan Napa | David Tyrell
11 Aidan Guerra | Paul Carter
12 Mitchell Aubusson | John Sutton
13 Isaac Liu | Kyle Turner
14 Sio Siua Taukeiaho | Damien Cook
15 Sam Moa | Jason Clark
16 Ian Henderson | Chris Grevsmuhl
17 Vincent Leuluai | Zane Musgrove
18 Mitchell Frei | Kirisome Auva’a
19 Joe Burgess | Nathan Brown
Coach: Trent Robinson | Michael Maguire
The Fullback Challenge Blake Ferguson will make his Club NRL debut in the Roosters fullback jersey on Sunday, and it most definitely won’t be a walk in the park.
He will line-up against the Rabbitohs Captain and superstar of the game, Greg Inglis.
Inglis is a devastating runner of the football and has played on every representative level in rugby league.
Arguably one of the best fullbacks in the competition, Inglis is a handful on any given night.
The Roosters will have a monster job to stop the electric fullback, but if anyone has the tools to effectively take him on, it’s Ferguson.
Handy Halves The last time they met it was young gun Jackson Hastings that had the last laugh, and that will no doubt be something that gets under the skin of Adam Reynolds.
Jackson Hastings was impressive at the back end of 2015 filling in at halfback, and will once again get his chance to start against the Rabbitohs.
Adam Reynolds is one of the better kickers in the game, and is constantly in the State Of Origin conversation in the early stages of the season.
Now playing his 4th year of first grade football, Reynolds will be looking to improve.
It’s going to take a mature and level-headed Jackson Hastings to get the job done against Reynolds on Sunday, and he’s stepped up when needed so far in his young career.
A Warm Welcome A big talking point leading into Round 1 is the return of South Sydney forward Sam Burgess, who has spent the last year in England playing rugby union.
He will be filling in at prop for his brothers George and Tom who are suspended and injured respectively.
Burgess was in devastating form in 2014 and will no doubt be keen to make his mark on the game. He will line-up against Roosters big man Kane Evans, who is coming off an impressive pre-season. With neither man a stranger to a big forwards battle, Evans will no doubt relish the opportunity to test himself against the experienced 2014 Clive Churchill Medal-winner.
LAST FIVE v Rabbitohs
2015: Roosters def. Rabbitohs | 30-0 at Allianz Stadium
2015: Rabbitohs def. Roosters | 34-26 at ANZ Stadium
2014: Roosters def. Rabbitohs | 24-18 at Allianz Stadium
2014: Rabbitohs def. Roosters | 28-8 at ANZ Stadium
2013: Roosters def. Rabbitohs | 24-12 at ANZ Stadium
The Roosters impressed greatly in their hit out of the pre-season when they went head-to-head with St Helens in the World Club Series.
Though the side looks different, there is a level of excitement about the side and they have plenty to learn about their potential this year.
The opponent will be tough this weekend, but this team has been working hard all pre-season and they’re itching to play some football.