Fans to miss out on big forwards clash

Sam Burgess is key for the Rabbitohs
Sam Burgess is key for the Rabbitohs AAP

THE NRL competition has just a handful of players whose absence can have a profound effect on a team's performance, and South Sydney will have to rise above the loss of English powerhouse Sam Burgess against the Bulldogs in tomorrow afternoon's Good Friday clash.

It would be no different for the Cowboys if they lost Johnathan Thurston or Melbourne if Cameron Smith was ruled out - those kinds of players are rare because of the influence they have over tight and tough games.

Sadly, rugby league fans have been denied a great forward clash, which would have seen Burgess taking on fellow English international and Bulldogs skipper James Graham. Their tussles, like in the 2014 grand final when Graham's early hit broke Burgess's cheekbone, are what bring fans through the turnstiles and what rugby league folklore is built on.

Burgess  has been sidelined after a heavy collision with Dragons' rival Mike Cooper in the early in last weekend's game, an incident that saw the Souths star taken to hospital as a precaution.

Graham will still have to confront some pretty big Burgess family members at ANZ Stadium, with Sam's brother, George, lining up in the front row.

It was the corresponding Good Friday clash last year which produced ugly scenes on and off the field.

Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds slotted a late penalty for an 18-17 win after Dogs enforcer David Klemmer was sent to the sin bin, leading to Dogs fans throwing water bottles at match officials as they left the field.

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