Rabbitohs quartet keen to upstage Brisbane Broncos pack
FOUR South Sydney forwards will be chasing more than the two NRL premiership points when unchanged Rabbitohs and Broncos sides clash in the Suncorp Stadium blockbuster on Friday night.
The Rabbitohs forward pack has been lauded as the biggest and best in the NRL this season, and Queenslanders Ben Te'o, Dave Tyrell, Chris McQueen and Ben Lowe have played an integral part in that reputation being gained.
Friday night is their chance to show Maroons selectors their Broncos counterparts should not be automatic State of Origin selections.
Sam Thaiday, Ben Hannant, Matt Gillett and Corey Parker - as well as Te'o who was then with the Broncos - all played for the Maroons in their seventh successive series win in 2012 and appear set for selection again when the team is announced in three weeks.
But although Queensland plays the loyalty card and is unlikely to change a winning combination, selector Alan Smith says the four Rabbitohs forwards have certainly caught the eye, particularly Tyrell and McQueen.
"They have all been in tremendous form and big performances in what will be an Origin-type atmosphere at Suncorp on Friday night will be noted, that's for sure," he said.
"An injury or a slip in form by one of the incumbents might mean a door opens, and the players knocking the loudest will get the nod."
Meanwhile, Manly officials are hoping a 10-day turnaround will enable State of Origin players Jason King (shoulder) and Jamie Buhrer (knee) to recover from injuries received in last Friday's brutal clash with the Rabbitohs.
Already without suspended Richie Fa'aoso (eight weeks) and Steve Matai (one week) the Sea Eagles can hardly afford to lose two more for Monday night's clash with the unchanged Dragons at Kogarah's WIN Jubilee Stadium.
Konrad Hurrell, who had a forgettable match against the Storm on Anzac Day, has been dropped from the Warriors side for their home clash against the Titans on Sunday, while skipper Simon Mannering and winger Manu Vatuvei return from injury.
The Titans have named Warriors junior Mark Ioane for his debut, with Brad Takairangi and Kevin Gordon returning.
Jacob Miller, Marika Koroibete and Tim Simona are the new faces in the injury-riddled Tigers side for the Friday night match with a Bulldogs side that welcomes back from suspension English Test forward James Graham.
In other selection news - Blake Ferguson returns to the centres for the injured Raider Jarrod Croker, sidelined for up to five weeks with a medial tear; Dallas Johnson is back for the Cowboys after missing the past two games; and Ricky Stuart has named three new faces - Api Pewhairangi, Kaysa Pritchard and Peni Terepo - in his Eels line-up to face the Cowboys.