You can tell when the NRL season is just around the corner when we start getting excited about the annual Charity Shield match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons. This clash will take place at the Glen Willow Stadium in Mudgee on Saturday, February 26, and remember this is much more than a trial match.
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South Sydney Rabbitohs v St George Illawarra Dragons Charity Shield Betting Tips & Predictions
The NRL season gets underway on Thursday, March 10, 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 South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons.
I hate calling this a trial match. This game means much more than that. These two have a rivalry going back decades.
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 the Rabbitohs just edging it with 17 wins compared to the 16 by the Dragons/Steelers. The Bunnies have been awarded the shield on 22 occasions with the Dragons lifting it 16 times.
In some ways, it is just a normal trial match with players aiming to boost their fitness ahead of the new campaign. On the other hand, bragging rights play a huge part in this rivalry. Getting the win in the Charity Shield can seriously improve confidence ahead of the first round of the season.
There is one battle I cannot wait to see in this game and it involves two brothers. George and Tom Burgess are twins and they have played the majority of their rugby together. George left Australia to join Super League side Wigan Warriors in 2020. His time there was cut short by injury and following hip surgery, he is back in the NRL with the Dragons.
From my records, this will be the first time the Burgess twins will have been on opposite sides during their professional careers. That first hit-up will be very interesting. Everyone will be watching to see who comes out on top – except maybe their mum Julie, who will be watching behind her hands.
Bunnies coach Jason Demetriou knows he has big shoes to fill as he takes his first head coaches role following the exit of Wayne Bennett. He has named his first squad and has named big-name players such as Alex Johnson, Jaxson Paulo, Campbell Graham, Cody Walker, Damien Cook and Jai Arrow.
Demetriou has named an interchange bench with 11 players on it, so expect a lot of changes throughout the 80 minutes.
Dragons coach Anthony Griffin will be without Moses Mbye and Tariq Sims for this game through injury – although they should be ready for week 1.
Aaron Woods and Jaydn Su’A will wear the famous Red V for the first time, while Zac Lomax, Ben Hunt, Blake Lawrie, Jack Bird and Jack de Belin will get their first run out of the pre-season.
St George Illawarra showed some fight in their trial win over Parramatta Eels last weekend, but they are facing a different animal in the form of the Bunnies.
I am backing the Bunnies to win the Charity Shield match for the seventh successive year and keep hold of the shield they have held since 2013.
When it comes to points, I am expecting plenty of tries to be scored. Johnston is a try machine for the Rabbitohs, I expect him to score two or more tries, while I also expect Cody Ramsey to score at any time for the Dragons.
South Sydney Rabbitohs v St George Illawarra Dragons Charity Shield Betting Tips & Predictions: Special Offers
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