Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds' individual Origin III selection disappointments are great news for the Rabbitohs as they look to consolidate third spot on the ladder with a fifth consecutive win.
Avoiding the loss of Walker is particularly valuable as Souths' lethal left edge will be without centre Dane Gagai and the influence of fullback Latrell Mitchell because of Origin duties.
Souths will be without five Origin representatives but with the Bulldogs, Warriors and Dragons to follow on their schedule before they come up against top-four rivals the Eels coach Wayne Bennett will be keen to make hay while the sun shines.
North Queensland, whose surge up the ladder suffered a significant reversal in recent weeks with a narrow loss to Cronulla sandwiched by heavy defeats to Manly and Newcastle, will be forced to try and halt the decline without the services of fullback Valentine Holmes and teen centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.
The match has been moved from Stadium Australia to Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium to comply with Queensland Public Health Orders.
Match: Rabbitohs v Cowboys
Round 17 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Rabbitohs: Rookie Peter Mamouzelos will start the game at hooker in a late switch with Benji Marshall, who goes to the bench.
Mamouzelos starts a game for the first time after debuting off the bench in round 14 against the Knights.
Blake Taaffe has been named at fullback with Latrell Mitchell on Origin duty while Braidon Burns comes in at centre for Maroon Dane Gagai.
Hame Sele moves to lock to cover for Blues star Cameron Murray and Thomas Burgess will start at prop.
Jaydn Su'A gets a recall in the back row to fill in for Jai Arrow while Benji Marshall is named at hooker for Blues rake Damien Cook.
Jaxson Paulo and Tautau Moga were the first two players cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. Davvy Moale was the last man cut and Josh Mansour is 18th man.
The Rabbitohs have won eight from eight against teams outside the top eight this season.
Cowboys: The Cowboys are 1-17 with no late changes.
Daejarn Asi comes in at the back for Val Holmes, who is away on Maroons duty while Connolly Lemuelu (thumb) makes a welcome return to fill the hole left by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow's Origin call-up.
Coen Hess is named to start at prop with Lachlan Burr on the bench. Tom Gilbert joins the bench with Francis Molo on Origin duty.
Winger Kyle Feldt's exclusion from Queensland's squad will also be welcomed as the Cowboys try to keep pace with the free-scoring Rabbitohs.
Michael Bell and Ben Condon were the first two players omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. Kane Bradley was the last player cut an hour before kick-off and Peter Hola is 18th man.
The Cowboys have won seven of their past nine games at Stadium Australia.
Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Blake TaaffeFullback for Cowboys is number 1 Daejarn Asi
Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex JohnstonWinger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Braidon BurnsCentre for Cowboys is number 3 Javid Bowen
Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Campbell GrahamCentre for Cowboys is number 4 Connelly Lemuelu
Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Taane MilneWinger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody WalkerFive-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Scott Drinkwater
Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam ReynoldsHalfback for Cowboys is number 7 Tom Dearden
Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Mark NichollsProp for Cowboys is number 8 Coen Hess
Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 17 Peter MamouzelosHooker for Cowboys is number 9 Reece Robson
Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Thomas BurgessProp for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Keaon Koloamatangi2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Shane Wright
2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Jaydn Su'A2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Mitchell Dunn
Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Hame SeleLock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 9 Benji MarshallInterchange for Cowboys is number 14 Jake Granville
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Liam KnightInterchange for Cowboys is number 15 Tom Gilbert
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Jacob HostInterchange for Cowboys is number 16 Lachlan Burr
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Patrick MagoInterchange for Cowboys is number 17 Heilum Luki
Reserve for Rabbitohs is number 18 Josh MansourReserve for Cowboys is number 18 Peter Hola
- Referee: Matt Cecchin
- Touch Judge: Chris Butler
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy
Adam Reynolds v Tom Dearden: Brisbane's future halfback comes up against the man who until very recently was the Broncos' halfback of the future.
Reynolds, who will pull on the Broncos' No.7 jersey next season, sits third on the point-scoring table and found a running game to go with his influential kicking game in Sunday's win over Wests Tigers, outgaining all but flyer Alex Johnston in the Bunnies backline with 116 run metres.
Dearden, who fell out of favour so quickly in Brisbane, has made a solid start since his mid-season switch to Townsville but will have to continue improving if the Cowboys are to stay in contention for a finals berth.
South Sydney (280) sit a startling second for ineffective tackles behind only Brisbane (306). Defence has been a sore point for the Rabbitohs at times this season and the pressure to tighten up raises a few more notches this week with Cameron Murray and Jai Arrow absent on Origin duties.
The news is much better when it comes to missed tackles with South Sydney at the very bottom of that table.
Head to NRL Pick'Em and get pickin’ to win a share of $100,000 cash every week!