June 13, 2024

Demetriou’s departure has shifted the spotlight onto interim coach Ben Hornby as the struggling South Sydney Rabbitohs prepare to face the Penrith Panthers in round nine this Thursday night. Sitting at the bottom of the ladder, the Rabbitohs face a tough challenge against the Panthers, who are comfortably positioned in third place and are considered strong contenders for the premiership.

Last week’s heavy defeat against Melbourne highlighted the Rabbitohs’ struggles, with a halftime deficit of 32-4. Despite a late surge, they fell short, conceding 54 points. With off-field distractions and a tough opponent ahead, it’s difficult to envision a turnaround for South Sydney.

Latrell Mitchell’s suspension leaves a void at fullback, with Jye Gray filling in. Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson steps in for the suspended Taane Milne on the wing. Keaon Koloamatangi continues in the front row, while Michael Chee Kam earns a starting role in the second row. Tom Burgess moves to the bench alongside Davvy Moale.

NRL 2024: Penrith Panthers season preview, 2024 verdict, ins and outs,  Cooper Cronk, analysis, Stephen Crichton, Spencer Leniu, news, videos,  highlights

Meanwhile, Penrith faced a resilient Cowboys side last week, securing a narrow 26-20 victory with Nathan Cleary’s kicking proving decisive. Despite Sunia Turuva’s late withdrawal, they managed to maintain their winning momentum. Moses Leota returns from injury, bolstering their lineup.

Penrith holds a strong record against South Sydney, winning five of their last six encounters.

Last Encounter: Round 8, 2023 – Rabbitohs 20, Panthers 18

Ones to Watch: 20-year-old Jye Gray steps into the spotlight as he takes on the fullback role for the Rabbitohs in his third NRL appearance of the year. Acting as a replacement for Latrell Mitchell during his suspension, Gray is expected to return to the NSW Cup once Mitchell is back. A product of Queensland’s junior pathways, Gray initially signed with the Broncos before joining the Rabbitohs. He also represented Queensland in the Under-19 Origin side in 2022. With the uncertainty surrounding Mitchell, Gray aims to showcase his potential as the future fullback for the Rabbitohs.

In the Panthers lineup, second-rower Mavrik Geyer is still in the early stages of his NRL career, making his debut in round four of this season. Despite his youth, the 23-year-old has shown versatility, playing across multiple positions. A Penrith junior, Geyer’s progression through the club’s pathways has been commendable. He will be eager to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Panthers’ development system.

Favorites: The Panthers are heavily favored to defeat the struggling Rabbitohs, especially with the off-field distractions affecting South Sydney.

Prediction: With confidence high at Penrith, they are expected to secure a comfortable victory. The Rabbitohs face an uphill battle, and it’s difficult to see them causing an upset. Penrith to win by 16 points.

Team Lineups:

**South Sydney Rabbitohs:**
1. Jye Gray
2. Jacob Gagai
3. Jack Wighton
4. Isaiah Tass
5. Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson
6. Cody Walker
7. Dean Hawkins
8. Keaon Koloamatangi
9. Damien Cook
10. Davvy Moale
11. Michael Chee Kam
12. Jacob Host
13. Cameron Murray
14. Peter Mamouzelos
15. Siliva Havili
16. Thomas Burgess
17. Jai Arrow
18. Tallis Duncan
19. Sean Keppie
20. Liam Le Blanc
21. Dion Teaupa
22. Adam Christensen

NRL 2022: Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs, Mark Nicholls, score,  video, Nathan Cleary, Latrell Mitchell

**Penrith Panthers:**
1. Dylan Edwards
2. Sunia Turuva
3. Izack Tago
4. Taylan May
5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Moses Leota
9. Mitch Kenny
10. James Fisher-Harris
11. Luke Garner
12. Liam Martin
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Daine Laurie
15. Lindsay Smith
16. Matt Eisenhuth
17. Mavrik Geyer
18. Jack Cole
19. Paul Alamoti
20. Brad Schneider
21. Preston Riki
22. Tyrone Peachey

Referees: Adam Gee
Sideline Officials: Liam Kennedy, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
Video Referees: Ashley Klein

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