The Rabbitohs were left to rue missed opportunities in a golden point loss to Cronulla but they need to regroup quickly against the unpredictable Warriors outfit on Saturday.
With matches against heavyweights the Eels, Panthers, Cowboys and Roosters to come after this weekend’s assignment the Rabbitohs can’t afford to slip up against a team that took them to the wire in Magic Round.
The Rabbitohs led 26-6 at half-time in that match at Suncorp Stadium but clocked off to concede four tries in 15 minutes and almost let the victory slip away.
Finals are out of the question for the Warriors but they’ll happy to play spoiler to any contenders who dare take them lightly.
Rabbitohs: Taane Milne returns from a finger injury in the centers, filling the hole left by Jed Cartwright (hamstring). Bench forward Tom Burgess (suspended) is out, replaced by Mark Nicholls. The other new face on the interchange is Blake Taaffe, who is recalled for his first game since Round 15. Kodi Nikorima is out.
Warriors: Euan Aitken has been moved from the back row to the centers in place of Adam Pompey who drops to the reserves. Five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita is out with a knee injury so Wayde Egan moves from hooker to the No.6 jersey and Freddy Lussick has been promoted to start in the No.9.
Aaron Pene (illness), Bayley Sironen (eye socket) and Jack Murchie (parental leave) all return in the pack. Josh Curran goes to the bench and Jazz Tevaga drops out with a shoulder injury. Taniela Otukolo will play his first game since round 13 on the bench.
Lachlan Ilias v Shaun Johnson: The young Rabbitohs playmaker has bounced back strongly from a tough outing against the Dragons in Round 15, coming up with some big plays as Souths have won four of five since that night. Ilias has come up with 13 forced dropouts and nine try assists so far in 2022 and he looks ready to handle the heat in the final month of the season as the Rabbitohs look to climb into the top four. Johnson’s kicking game has delivered 19 forced dropouts for the Warriors and the veteran will look to finish the year strongly and get some momentum to carry into 2023.
Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston leads the competition in tries (22) and line breaks (27). The Warriors’ top tryscorer is Dallin Watene-Zelezniak with seven while Reece Walsh is their best line breaker with eight.