Anthony Siebold and Wayne Bennett will each face off against their former club for the first time tonight when the Rabbitohs play the Broncos in Sydney. Last year Bennett was still coaching the Broncos, where he has won 6 premierships, before management pushed him out to bring in Siebold, who was with the Bunnies in his first season as a head coach.
Bennett is reportedly still very popular with the Brisbane players, who think he was forced out of his spiritual home. Siebold, by contrast, has had to deal with rumours of players wanting to leave and not being inspired by him. His new job is also not going well, with Brisbane only winning 2 matches so far in 2019.
Bennett is also well liked by the Souths team, taking them to equal first on the ladder with 6 wins from 7 games to start the season. The Rabbits will have plenty of motivation for this clash after Siebold walked out on them after just a year, and was perceived to be angling for the Broncos job just 6 months after starting at Redfern.
Apart from dealing with a horror start to the season the Broncos also have to deal with instability around their players. Kodi Nikorima has been left at home in Brisbane, after reportedly refusing to play for Siebold. He is expected to move to the Warriors within the next week or so. Jimmy Roberts has also been linked with a mid-season transfer to Souths, where his career began.
Tom Dearden is the 18 year old halfback assigned the role of replacing Nikorima. He can expect to have the Burgess brothers running at him all night long, so his defence will have to be up to the task. He will also be responsible for organising the team and leading them around the park, which is a big ask at 18 and on debut.
Even without Greg Inglis Souths look to have the backline to dominate Brisbane, with their halves on fire and hooker Damien Cook continuing the red hot form that saw him take on the NSW and Australia role last year. With the Burgess brothers bulking up the pack they should also be able to match the Broncos much vaunted forwards.
Across the rest of the weekend the Cowboys and Titans will face off on Friday, with the winner certain to move off the bottom of the table. The injury ravaged Sharks will also face the Storm on Friday, with Melbourne likely to take the honours. On Saturday the impressive Raiders take on the improving Panthers, before the Bulldogs travel to Brookvale to face a Manly side without most of its stars.
The final game on Saturday night will be the Roosters against Wests Tigers, with the Roosters heavy favourites in the east vs west battle. On Sunday the struggling Warriors face the suddenly threatening Knights in Auckland, before Parramatta and St George finish off the weekend.