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Key Match-Up: Round 1 vs. Rabbitohs

Brock Corfe (Twitter: @Brock_Corfe)

Key Matchup

Arguably two of the game’s most exciting players, James Tedesco and Greg Inglis go head-to-head tomorrow night in the Phil Gilbert Motor Group Key Match-Up for Round 1.

The rivalry between these two game-breakers went to a new-level in 2016, with the pair facing off in State of Origin for the first time ever, as well as their two regular meetings on an NRL level.

Tedesco looked slick in his only pre-season hit-out against North Queensland two weeks ago, with the Wests Tigers star playing 60 minutes and looking dangerous every time he touched the ball.

The Camden Rams junior will be eager to continue his stellar 2016 form through to this season after earning several honours including the Dally M Fullback of the Year.

Inglis, who is closing in on 250 NRL appearances, turned 30 in the pre-season and will be out to show his younger opponent up in this opening round showdown.

The Rabbitohs skipper missed the Club’s impressive Charity Shield victory over the Dragons two weeks ago, but played a key role for the Indigenous All Stars in their win a week earlier.

While plenty of the focus has been on Robbie Farah, Jamal Idris and co. leading into this game, expect the battle of the fullbacks to play more of a key role in the outcome of this opening round blockbuster.

As the statistics suggest, it’s going to be another epic encounter between the two custodians.

Key Matchup Stats

Tedesco and Inglis have met seven times previously, with the young Wests Tigers fullback holding a narrow 4-3 advantage over his more experienced opponent.

It’s safe to say the Wests Tigers’ number one got the better of his Queensland opponent last season, winning both NRL matches and his debut State of Origin appearance in Game III.

In total, Tedesco has faced South Sydney eight times, scoring six tries and holding a 50% win ratio.

On the other hand, Inglis has come up against Wests Tigers in his illustrious career on 16 occasions and has a formidable nine wins and 11 tries.

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Goal-kicking for Teddy…

Tedesco raised plenty of eyebrows in the Club’s final trial match against North Queensland a fortnight ago when he was handed the kicking tee after the first try and slotted a goal from near the sideline.

While it may have had many NRL Fantasy players drooling with excitement, it should be noted that both Jordan Rankin (bench) and Mitchell Moses (injured) were not on the field at the time.

Both players, who shared the majority of the kicking duties in 2016, have been named in the starting side for the Rabbitohs clash.

Off to a fast start…

Tedesco has scored at least one try in his past three season opening matches, including last year’s double against the New Zealand Warriors at Campbelltown.

Before that, the Camden junior scored a try in the 2015 season opener victory against the Gold Coast and crossed for a four-pointer in the adjacent match in 2014 against the Dragons.

Look out for the 24-year-old to get across the line tomorrow night and make a fast start to his try-scoring tally for the fourth consecutive season.

What he said…

Wests Tigers Head Coach Jason Taylor:

“I think both (Tedesco and Inglis) will play really big parts in key moments,” Taylor said. “By that I mean in regard to try-scoring opportunities, Inglis is a renown try-scorer and we need to be making strong tackles on him inside our 20-metre zone - that’s imperative.

“James is a little bit similar in that he can score a try but can also find that pass, so I think both of those players are crucial to taking advantage of try-scoring opportunities in good field position.

“Across the rest of the field, it will be about bringing kicks back and then organising defensive lines; they both do that really well so they are clearly two players that are going an enormous influence on this game,” he said.