We finish off the first weekend of NRL Finals with something that seems very familiar…a repeat of last week’s Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs matchup at the new Allianz Stadium. This time it kicks off in the afternoon, getting underway at 4:05pm on Sunday. Of course the Roosters took the (somewhat meaningless) chocolates last week, but they sustained some casualties in the process and this is a completely new game there for the taking.

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Team News

The Roosters have four changes. One of those is the significant loss of Joey Manu to a calf injury, with both wingers Daniel Tupou and Joseph Suaalii returning from their own injury issues. Paul Momirovski slides into Manu’s centre spot, and Kevin Naiqama drops out. In the forwards Victor Radley returns from his serious concussion at lock, pushing Sio Taukeaiho to prop, Matt Lodge to the bench, and Terrell May out of the team. Adam Keighran has been named to replace Oliver Gilbert as the bench utility. It’s a fairly significant reshuffle with some lingering question marks over the three returning players, so I’d say this team has clearly gotten worse from last week.

The Rabbitohs have two changes of their own, both due to star players being ready to return to the team. The first is Damien Cook, reclaiming his hooker spot, forcing Siliva Havili back to the bench and Peter Mamouzelos out of the team. The second is Campbell Graham, who directly replaces Jaxson Paulo at centre. In contrast to the Roosters, these are both clear upgrades that has the team looking pretty close to full strength. The main concern is the concussion of Cam Murray last weekend and his need to pass protocols, but it sounds like he’ll be good to go.

Betting Odds

Roosters $1.55 v Rabbitohs $2.45 - Bet now at Ladbrokes!


As you might have gathered from my tone above, I wouldn’t be making the Roosters favourites for this one. They’re still a good team, but the loss of Manu is absolutely huge in my books, he’s been one of the best players in the NRL this season, with far more impact than your average centre. The Hutchison/Momirovski pairing at that position is a clear weak link for the team, and the Rabbits have nothing as glaring to match it. I’m happy to lean towards Rabbits players in my stacks and hope that the field puts their trust in the bookies favourites.


Love It - Latrell Mitchell $18,740

The pricing is good on this slate, in that there are no clear must haves and no easy fades. That makes this call as marginal as the ones that will follow, but I’m leaning into Latrell because his form has been on another level this season, particularly in the 10 games since returning from injury (average 61). That alone makes him a comparable scorer to Tedesco, with a nice little discount. Throw in the fact that I’m leaning towards a Rabbitohs win, perhaps a few handy extra goals if things get out of hands, and a smidge of revenge narrative against his old team and I think Latrell is perhaps the best way to burn some significant salary on the slate.


Love It - Sam Verrills $13,570

The minutes are hard to predict when good teams are at full-strength, but Verrills has put together an 8 week stretch where he’s averaged 74 minutes and 47 points, representing a clear breakout in his injury interrupted career. Last weeks 57 & 30 is a mild concern, but I’’ focus not he bigger sample given it was effectively a dead rubber last week. The 23 year old is a quality footballer and I expect there to be a lot of traffic through the middle of the field. He’s super efficient in defence, and has just enough attacking upside if things go his way. The slight discount to the two Walkers at the HH position is handy given they all project to score similarly in a potentially tight encounter.


Love It - Jai Arrow $15,100

I said the slate is priced really well, and that’s nowhere more apparent than at FWD. We could mount an argument for or against nearly every player at their price point, but the one that stands out as a “safe cash play” is Arrow. He’s been locked into a big minute 2RF role since round 10, never going under 62 minutes or 39 points in that 14 game stretch. The Rabbitohs bench is made up of a utility and some lower minute middle forwards, which means Arrow and Koloamatangi are very likely to see the full 80 minutes. He doesn’t have a massive ceiling, but can hit a 60-something occasionally which is still acceptable in GPP land on a slate as tight as this one.


Hate It - Sio Taukeiaho $17,210

At this end of the season when good teams are getting their best players on the park, there is often a minutes squeeze on middle forwards. Although the Roosters have continued running a utility most weeks, that has been the case for them. Taukeaiho has actually been relatively unaffected, playing 54 minutes last week and 54+ in 8 of his last 10 (the other two were injury affected). Despite the big minutes, I’m worried about his injury history and likelihood of hitting a ceiling at this price. Again, it’s not a strong conviction, he’s a good player, but I prefer the younger players in this price range in Tatola, Butcher and Koloamatangi.


Hate It - Connor Watson $13,310

Watson is one player that could be a minutes victim in this game. With Verrills often keeping the hooking role to himself, Watson may have to compete with a stacked group of middle forwards for time on the field. He’s been a 50 minute man this season, but in 3 of his last 4 (while Verrills got 80), he saw around 40 minutes. Even projecting a reduced block of Minutes for Lodge (30), Verills (70) and Radley (50), I can’t find more than 40 minutes for Watson here, which makes him a pretty thin play against some of the HH options around the same price.


Who Knows - Isaiah Tass $11,520

Tass has now played 13 games in his rookie season, stringing together the last 10 in a row. The 23 year old gets to play in his first final, and I’m not inclined to think he’’l be overwhelmed. Instead I’m looking at it as a repeat game to the one where he scored 46 points last week, except not running against Joey Manu anymore. He’s averaged 38 as a starting centre, which makes him a pretty nice value if you trust the small sample. Best of all he scores in every category, with solid defensive output, a strong running game, and plenty of attacking stats. Maybe I’m not as unsure about him as the “who knows” segment deserves, I’ve just used it as a cheat way to talk up another Rabbitohs OB that I like!

Draftstars Suggested Team

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