History will be created on Friday night as the Sydney Roosters play their first-ever match at Sunshine Coast Stadium, and they will be looking to continue their recent form against a battered and bruised Newcastle Knights side looking for redemption.
Recent History: Sydney Roosters vs Newcastle Knights
Eastern Suburbs and Newcastle meet for the 58th time in their 34-year-long rivalry, which will be the first time the teams clash outside of New South Wales, having previously held matches in Sydney, Newcastle and Gosford.
The Roosters hold the upper hand when it comes to results between the two Clubs, with 35 wins from 57 matches at a 61% success rate.
Recent history has gone the way of the Tricolours as well, with only a solitary loss in the last ten encounters going back to the beginning of 2015. Victories in the last three matches have seen the Roosters come away with an average scoreline of 43-9.
Easts will be looking to claim their third victory in a row after defeating the Bulldogs and Cowboys, while the Novocastrians will be desperate to bounce back from a heavy defeat last week.
How They Line Up
Trent Robinson has named a slightly altered side to the one that claimed victory against North Queensland last Saturday.
James Tedesco returns from a week off following State of Origin duties, reclaiming his spot as fullback and captain. The starting backline consists of Daniel Tupou, Billy Smith, Joseph Manu and Matt Ikuvalu.
Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James TedescoFullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel TupouWinger for Knights is number 2 Dominic Young
Centre for Roosters is number 3 Billy SmithCentre for Knights is number 3 Kurt Mann
Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph ManuCentre for Knights is number 4 Enari Tuala
Winger for Roosters is number 5 Matt IkuvaluWinger for Knights is number 5 Hymel Hunt
Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Drew HutchisonFive-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Jake Clifford
Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Sam WalkerHalfback for Knights is number 7 Phoenix Crossland
Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-HargreavesProp for Knights is number 8 Jacob Saifiti
Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam VerrillsHooker for Knights is number 9 Jayden Brailey
Prop for Roosters is number 10 Isaac LiuProp for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor RadleyLock for Knights is number 13 Connor Watson
Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Lachlan LamInterchange for Knights is number 14 Sauaso Sue
Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Nat ButcherInterchange for Knights is number 16 Josh King
Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Egan ButcherInterchange for Knights is number 17 Brodie Jones
Interchange for Roosters is number 19 Fletcher BakerInterchange for Knights is number 18 Jack Johns
Reserve for Roosters is number 18 Adam KeighranReserve for Knights is number 20 Tex Hoy
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Touch Judge: Todd Smith
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
Drew Hutchison - who has taken the reigns at five-eighth - will line up alongside Sam Walker in the halves, while the front row comprises of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Isaac Liu. Angus Crichton and Sitili Tupouniua have been named in the second row, with Victor Radley in the no.13 jersey.
Sam Verrills will steer the forward pack at hooker, after citing a desire to take hold of the no.9 jersey on a long-term basis.
On the interchange, Lachlan Lam will reprise his role as utility alongside brothers Nat and Egan Butcher, who are joined by hulking front rower Siosiua Taukeiaho, who returns to the side after being omitted last week.
Adam Keighran, Fletcher Baker, Josh Morris and Ben Thomas have been named on the extended bench.
The Newcastle Knights will welcome back NSW Origin front rower Daniel Saifiti, while former Rooster and halfback Mitchell Pearce continues to nurse a hamstring. Kalyn Ponga and David Klemmer - who both failed their HIAs against the Melbourne Storm - have both been named.
Key Match Up: James Tedesco vs Kalyn Ponga
Opposing fullbacks in Game III of this year's State of Origin series will face each other head-on after just a few weeks, and James Tedesco will be hoping to exact revenge against his fellow custodian after tasting defeat in their last encounter.
Both players average very similar stats to one another throughout season 2021, having missed out on team selection due to representative duties and injuries respectively.
Tedesco leads his opposite in tries (7 vs 6), try assists (8 vs 6), tackle breaks (76 vs 33) and line breaks (7 vs 5) respectively, but it is important to note that Ponga has played fewer games than the two-time Premiership winner so far this season.
With few exceptions, you would be hard-pressed to find two more influential and exciting fullbacks in the competition, and the battle between these two superstars will no doubt dictate which team comes out on top at the end of the 80 minutes.
What They Said:
“For these next couple of weeks for the remainder of the comp, we’re going to work really hard on our combination and put us in the best position for the rest of the year.” - Five-Eighth Drew Hutchison
“We’re actually rooming next to the Knights in the bubble. We walk past their rooms and they walk past our rooms. It’ll be pretty funny this week I reckon. A lot of us are all mates, we get along quite well. It’s not that serious right now, but everyone’s ready to go.” - Second Rower Angus Crichton
It will be the third week in a row where the Red, White and Blue face off against a side that will are in the finals frame and looking to re-gain momentum, but the boys from Bondi will be determined to build on their form as the post-season nears ever closer.
For those in Roosters' heartland in Sydney's east, across Australia and abroad unable to attend the match, you can cheer on your team on Fox League (channel 502 on Foxtel), or streamed through Kayo.