Robbie Farah v Isaac Luke
Two of the best number nines in the NRL go head to head this Friday night, with NSW incumbent Robbie Farah facing off with New Zealand International Isaac Luke.
Farah has led by example all year and there is no question over his desire to lead his side out of a six-match losing streak. Farah has made an incredible 132 tackles over the past three games, including 50 last Friday against the Sharks. Farah will look for another big performance against Souths, with another loss making this the Wests Tigers worst ever losing streak.
Luke has also been influential in the Rabbitohs rise to the top, with the rake topping the tackle count last week against the Sharks with 34 tackles. A big game player known for his speed from dummy-half, Luke is always looking to capitalise on quick play the balls and lazy marker defence. The Wests Tigers will no doubt be watching the crafty-hooker closely.
Eddy Pettybourne v Sam Burgess
Wests Tigers off-season recruit Eddy Pettybourne goes up against his former Club for the first time and faces a daunting task; a monster Rabbitohs pack spearheaded by English prop Sam Burgess.
The game will be even more special for Pettybourne as he plays his 100th NRL match. The Samoan international has been in and out of the starting side in 2013, making eight appearances for the Wests Tigers. Pettybourne had arguably his strongest performance of the year last week against the Sharks, making 25 tackles and 14 hit-ups for 129 metres. He will have to continue this form as the Wests Tigers look to cause a major upset against the league leading Rabbitohs.
The Burgess contingent at South Sydney have made a massive impact in 2013, with Sam and George leading the sides excellent start to the year. Sam turned in another strong performance against the Cowboys last week with 20 tackles, two offloads and 19 hit-ups for 148 metres. The English International will come up against his former teammate Pettybourne for the first time in what is shaping to be an exciting clash.
Bodene Thompson v Ben Teo
The similarities between Bodene Thompson and Ben Teo are uncanny; both have moved to new teams this year, have had stints in the centres while primarily being a back-rower and both players were born in New Zealand.
While Teo has played substantially more NRL games, Thompson has impressed in his short 53-game career. Recruited from the Gold Coast Titans in the off-season, Thompson had a disrupted start to his time at the Wests Tigers. The second-rower had to wait until Round 5 to make his debut following a suspension in NSW Cup. He proved to be one of the standout performers on that night in what was close to an upset at AAMI Park, with the Storm eventually winning 26-12. Thompson moves back into the starting side this week following a stint on the bench, playing just 20 minutes last week against the Sharks.
Teo is another player facing his former Club in this match, debuting for the Wests Tigers back in 2007 before moving to the Broncos and eventually the Rabbitohs. Teo gained a massive 131 metres from 13 hit ups in an 80-minute performance against the Cowboys last week. His form for the Broncos last year earned him a spot in Queenslands Origin squad as 18th man.