You can tell when the NRL season is just around the corner, when we start getting excited about the annual Charity Shield match between St George Illawarra Dragons and South Sydney Rabbitohs. This clash will take place at the Glen Willow Stadium in Mudgee on Saturday, February 27.
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The NRL season gets underway on Thursday, March 11, but before that there are a number of trial games to be played as all 16 teams try to gain some match fitness ahead of the new campaign.
One of the biggest trial games of the pre-season campaign is the annual Charity Shield clash between St George Illawarra Dragons and South Sydney Rabbitohs.
There is no love lost between these two Sydney sides and this rivalry goes back a long way. Back far enough before St George merged with Illawarra Steelers to become the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The head-to-head record for the Charity Shield sees both teams with 16 wins and five draws, while the Bunnies have been awarded the shield on 21 occasions compared to the 16 times the Dragons have won it.
NRL Charity Shield: St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs Tips & Predictions: Match Winner
Last season saw the Rabbitohs run out 26-12 winners over the Dragons, extending their unbeaten run in this contest to nine. Since the Dragons last won in 2012, the Bunnies have won seven and drawn one.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, I cannot see them ending that run this season. For the regular readers of my tips, they will know that St George Illawarra are my NRL team and it hurts me to back against them, but I can see at least another 12 months of mediocrity before they can be classified as a play-off contender – I really hope I’m wrong.
The Dragons have named a very strong squad with new captain Ben Hunt, Matt Dufty, Josh Kerr, Corey Norman, Tariq Sims and Paul Vaughan. The Bunnies are also going big and strong for this one, Adam Reynolds will lead them out and he will be backed up by Latrell Mitchell, Dane Gagai, Tom Burgess, Damien Cook and Jai Arrow.
There will be plenty of talent on show, but I just think the Bunnies will be more together as a team, the Dragons and new coach Anthony Griffin are at the start of a brand-new relationship so miracles will not happen overnight. I am backing the Bunnies to continue their recent dominance over the Dragons in the Charity Shield.
NRL Charity Shield: St George Illawarra Dragons v South Sydney Rabbitohs Tips & Predictions: 1st Try Scorer
A lot of eyebrows were raised when Penrith Panthers told Josh Mansour he would not have a place in their 17-man matchday squad for the 2021 season.
The 30-year-old had been with the Panthers for eight years and felt he had done enough to still have an involvement in their progression. After being shown the door, Mansour signed a two-year contract with South Sydney Rabbitohs, and he is determined to prove to everyone that he is still a try scoring machine in the NRL.
He has scored 74 tries in the NRL, and he will be looking to get his Bunnies career off to the right start when he makes his debut against the Dragons. I am backing him to score the opening try of the Charity Shield.