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Sharks look for some ‘magic’ at NRL’s showcase event

There is likely no secret formula to success, however the Sharks will be looking to recapture some ‘magic’ at the NRL’s showcase event when they tackle Souths at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

The Sharks were on the end of a heavy loss to the competition-leading Panthers last week, while Souths suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Melbourne Storm, with both sides looking for improved performances on a weekend where all 16 teams play at the same venue over the next three days. 

The last time Magic Round was held, back in 2019, the Sharks opened he event with a Friday night match against the Titans, winning 26-18, however this time around they will need to get the job done without a handful of their high profile stars.

Losing Shaun Johnson with a hamstring issue midweek was a blow, and when added to a list of unavailable players which includes the injured Jesse Ramien, Braden Hamlin-Uele and the suspended Siosifa Talakai and the Sharks appear to have their work cut out. 

Balancing out the ledger though will a similar casualty list affecting their opponents, with Souths missing fullback Latrell Mitchell, NSW Origin star Cameron Murray and centre Cambell Graham. 

However this game might be more about who is playing than who isn’t, with Matt Moylan slotting into Johnson’s five eighth position and Josh Dugan returning and getting his chance to impress in the centres for the Sharks. 

The game will also represent the first top grade appearance for 2021 of Andrew Fifita, the Grand Final-winning prop having just completed a four-game suspension handed down for an incident while playing for Newtown in the NSW Cup.  

The Sharks go into the game aiming to avoid a sixth straight loss for the first time since 2014-15, while also hoping to improve on a record at Suncorp which shows they have won just seven of 21 matches. They have however won their past two at the Brisbane venue and five of their most recent eight.

Similarly, the Rabbitohs have struggled at Suncorp, registering eight wins from 22 games played. 

In the overall head to head record between the two clubs the Sharks hold a narrow advantage, having won 46 games to 40 from Souths, with three draws. 

Since 2015 these teams have traded wins and if the trend was to continue, the Sharks would come out on top this weekend.

The teams last met was in Round 1 of the 2020 season in a match won 22-18 by Souths at Stadium Australia.

The Sharks and Souths are scheduled to kick off at 5.30pm at Suncorp tomorrow night as the second of three NRL games on the day. 

In team news, the Sharks have omitted Johnson and Jensen Taumeopeau from their 21 as selected on Tuesday. See the two 19-man squads listed below. 

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
    Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Cody Walker
  • Winger for Sharks is number 2 Mawene Hiroti
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex Johnston
  • Centre for Sharks is number 3 Josh Dugan
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Dane Gagai
  • Centre for Sharks is number 4 Will Chambers
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Braidon Burns
  • Winger for Sharks is number 5 Connor Tracey
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Taane Milne
  • Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 14 Matt Moylan
    Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Benji Marshall
  • Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad Townsend
    Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds

Forwards

  • Prop for Sharks is number 8 Aiden Tolman
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Thomas Burgess
  • Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
    Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
  • Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Tevita Tatola
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Keaon Koloamatangi
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Jaydn Su'A
  • Lock for Sharks is number 13 Toby Rudolf
    Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Liam Knight

Interchange

  • Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Teig Wilton
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Mark Nicholls
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Jack Williams
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Hame Sele
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Andrew Fifita
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Jed Cartwright
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 18 Braydon Trindall
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Jai Arrow

Reserves

  • Reserve for Sharks is number 19 Billy Magoulias
    Reserve for Rabbitohs is number 19 Patrick Mago

Match Officials

  • Referee: Chris Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Touch Judge: Darian Furner
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

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