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Round 8 Match Preview: The Anzac Occasion

Over the years, the Anzac Day fixture between the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons has been a spectacle on the rugby league calendar and this Tuesday’s contest marks another chapter in the long running rivalry between clubs.

An atmosphere like no other, both teams will be playing to commemorate the thousands of servicemen and women who have fearlessly defended our values and freedoms for decades.

Recent History: Sydney Roosters vs St George Illawarra Dragons

With the traditional Anzac Day match returning to Allianz Stadium for the first time since 2018, the Roosters and Dragons will play for the Anzac Cup in front of a sold-out crowd.

April 25 marks the 48th meeting between clubs and the 21st time the Roosters and Dragons have gone head-to-head on Australia’s most important national day.

Last Anzac Day, St George claimed the Cup with a two-point win but the Roosters bounced back, defeating the Red V 54-26 on the Central Coast in July courtesy of doubles to James Tedesco and Joseph Manu.  

Both teams enter the match following consecutive losses in rounds six and seven and will be looking to find some consistency in their performance as the first third of the season draws to a close.

How They Line Up

Roosters coach Trent Robinson has made wholesale changes to his side, most notably naming Angus Crichton and Sitili Tupouniua to make their NRL returns.

New Zealand International Joseph Manu has been called into the halves, allowing Paul Momirovski to slot into the empty centre position.

Five-time Jack Gibson Medallist James Tedesco will captain the team at fullback again this week. Joining him in the back line are wingers Daniel Tupou, who is three tries away from levelling the Roosters’ all-time try-scoring record, and Jaxson Paulo who will play his 50th NRL game.

Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii and Momirovski combine in the centres, while Manu and Luke Keary will forge a new combination in the halves.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Brandon Smith and Lindsay Collins make up the front row again this week, as Egan Butcher resumes his position in the second row, without his brother Nat who was made unavailable for selection.

World Cup winner Crichton returns to the back row after playing an impressive 80 minutes in NSW Cup last weekend. Victor Radley completes the starting 13 at lock.

Dragons coach Anthony Griffin has made one change to his side for Anzac Day, calling on Ben Murdoch-Masila to replace Jadyn Su’A who suffered a minor shoulder dislocation last round.

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
    Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Tyrell Sloan
  • Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
    Winger for Dragons is number 2 Mathew Feagai
  • Centre for Roosters is number 3 Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii
    Centre for Dragons is number 3 Mosese Suli
  • Centre for Roosters is number 4 Paul Momirovski
    Centre for Dragons is number 4 Zac Lomax
  • Winger for Roosters is number 5 Jaxson Paulo
    Winger for Dragons is number 5 Tautau Moga
  • Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Joseph Manu
    Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Talatau Amone
  • Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Luke Keary
    Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt


  • Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
    Prop for Dragons is number 10 Blake Lawrie
  • Hooker for Roosters is number 9 Brandon Smith
    Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Moses Mbye
  • Prop for Roosters is number 10 Lindsay Collins
    Prop for Dragons is number 15 Michael Molo
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Egan Butcher
    2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Ben Murdoch-Masila
  • 2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Angus Crichton
    2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Jack Bird
  • Lock for Roosters is number 13 Victor Radley
    Lock for Dragons is number 13 Jack De Belin


  • Interchange for Roosters is number 14 Drew Hutchison
    Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Jacob Liddle
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Sitili Tupouniua
    Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Toby Couchman
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Matthew Lodge
    Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Josh Kerr
  • Interchange for Roosters is number 20 Naufahu Whyte
    Interchange for Dragons is number 18 Jaiyden Hunt


  • Replacement for Roosters is number 18 Corey Allan
    Replacement for Dragons is number 8 Zane Musgrove

Match Officials

  • Referee: Adam Gee
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Touch Judge: Wyatt Raymond
  • Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein

Last updated:

Key Match Up: Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii vs Moses Suli

When Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii meets Moses Suli in the centres this week, expect fireworks.

After an impressive World Cup campaign for Samoa, 19-year-old Suaalii has continued to make his mark in the NRL, averaging 131 run metres per game so far this season. Not only has he scored one try and assisted with two, he has also broken 23 tackles while cementing his place as a starting centre.

With Joseph Manu moving into the halves, expect Suaalii to step up and make tough carries in defence, but also compose crafty attacking plays that could perhaps assist Daniel Tupou in levelling the Club’s all-time try-scoring record.

His opposite, Tongan International Moses Suli, recently played his 100th NRL game after debuting in 2017 for the Wests Tigers. So far in 2023, Suli has assisted with one try and made 10 tackle breaks while averaging 128 run metres per match.

As both the Roosters and Dragons look to bounce back from consecutive losses, keep your eyes on Suaalii and Suli, who could make all the difference to the result on Anzac Day.

What They Said

“I remember just walking out and the atmosphere was electric. It’s gotten better and better and now…the new stadium is going to be packed out [on Tuesday] and I can’t wait.” – Captain James Tedesco

“It’s a very special day and we feel privileged to play a small part.” – Vice-captain Luke Keary

Robinson: 'We're Looking Forward To A Strong Performance'

Final Verdict

When it comes to the Anzac Day Cup, there’s more than two competition points on the line. Both teams are playing to commemorate the thousands of servicemen and women who have fearlessly defended our values and freedoms for decades.

The feeling that surrounds the entire day for players, coaches, staff and attendees makes for an electric atmosphere that is unlike any other regular season game.  

Be sure to arrive at Allianz Stadium early on Tuesday, to enjoy all the pre-game entertainment happening in and around the venue before the NRL match kicks off at 4:05pm.

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.