The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys travel to Sydney to face the Rabbitohs at Accor Stadium on Saturday night.
1. LONG TIME
It may be the second last game of the home and away season, but Saturday’s fixture will be the first of 2022 between the Cowboys and Rabbitohs. North Queensland won the previous meeting between the two sides in Sydney – a 30-12 triumph in Round 6 of the 2015 season behind a Johnathan Thurston double. South Sydney lead the overall head-to-head match-up 20-17.
2. BACKLINE MOVES
Tom Dearden’s unfortunate injury has forced Todd Payten to shuffle his backline for the Rabbitohs clash. Scott Drinkwater has been named at five-eighth in Dearden’s absence, with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow named at fullback.
3. STARTING BERTH
Luciano Leilua’s outstanding run of form has seen him retain his place in the starting side. Tom Gilbert (family reasons) returns to the side on the interchange after missing the victory over the Warriors. Leilua has run for in excess of 135 running metres in each of his previous three outings and has scored two tries over the same span.
4. BREAKING THE DROUGHT
Valentine Holmes has scored 81 tries in his NRL career, but remarkably none of those have come against South Sydney. In a 156-game career, Holmes has faced the Rabbitohs just four times and has not been able to cross the stripe. Holmes has scored against 14 of the 16 teams in the NRL, with Parramatta being the only other exception.
5. STATS UPDATE
Holmes remains on track to claim the NRL point-scoring crown, sitting 15 points clear of the Roosters’ Sam Walker with just two games to play. Holmes needs 31 points across the Cowboys' final two games to break Thurston’s single-season club record from 2014. Jeremiah Nanai ranks third in the NRL with 17 tries – a whopping 10 more than any other forward. Jason Taumalolo’s 1351 post contact metres are fourth most, while Chad Townsend’s 19 try assists rank second. Reece Robson has made the fourth most tackles with 909 and Murray Taulagi leads the NRL with six intercepts.