NRL Weekly Watch: Previewing the Las Vegas double-header | The Sporting Base

NRL Weekly Watch: Previewing the Las Vegas double-header

February 28, 2024

NRL Weekly Watch: Previewing the Las Vegas double-header

Manly, Souths to open 2024 at ‘The Death Star’

The 2024 NRL Telstra Premiership kicks off at 1:30pm (AEDT) Sunday with the Sea Eagles taking on the Rabbitohs in a highly anticipated affair at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium.

Home of the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL, Allegiant Stadium was opened in July 2020 and boasts a capacity of 65,000.

The festivities and hoo-hah throughout the build-up to the historic double-header has been well-documented and the excitement is beginning to become palpable.

As for the on-field happenings, the four sides taking part in the double-header will be forced to contend with a smaller-sized field; per the NRL, “the 94.5 metre field (100 yards) will be marked into 9.45 metres grids… in-goal areas will also be 6.4 metres deep at each end of the field instead of the usual 10 metres” whilst they have “been able to widen Allegiant Stadium to 63.1 metres” compared to the regulation 68 metres.

Dubbed ‘Round 0’, the matches still count towards Round 1 of the NRL season with the third clash of the round coming four days after on the Thursday.

As for the team lists, Tom Trbojevic occupies the No.1 jersey for the hosts in what is set to be his first outing since Origin II last year.

Toluta’u Koula and Reuben Garrick make up a new-look centre-pairing with offseason recruit Jaxson Paulo named to make his club debut on the wing.

Luke Brooks makes his first Manly start in the five-eighth jumper alongside skipper Daly Cherry-Evans whilst Ben Trbojevic will start on an edge alongside the rampaging Haumole Olakau’atu.

Offseason additions Corey Waddell and Nathan Brown have been named on the interchange.

As for Souths, Latrell Mitchell starts at the back with Alex Johnston and debutant Jacob Gagai the wingers.

With Campbell Graham (sternum) and Jack Wighton (suspension) unavailable, Isaiah Tass and Richie Kennar are the centres with former Sea Eagle Sean Keppie earning a nod up front.

Jai Arrow and Keaon Koloamatangi are the second rowers with captain Cameron Murray locking the scrum.

Thomas Burgess starts off the interchange with Tallis Duncan named in jersey No.18.

South Sydney have won seven in a row against the Sea Eagles having not lost to them since Round 4, 2019 courtesy of an 84th-minute Cherry-Evans one-pointer.

Roosters meet Broncos to cap off Vegas double-header

The second leg of the double-header will come at 3:30pm (AEDT) with the Roosters and Broncos doing battle.

Captain James Tedesco starts at the back for the Tricolours with Daniel Tupou and Joseph-Aukuso Sua’ali’i on either flank.

Roosters fans will have to wait to see prized recruit Dom Young debut for the club after the English international suffered a neck injury during the Pre-Season Challenge.

Billy Smith and Joseph Manu are the centres whilst Spencer Leniu makes his club debut at prop fresh off a three-peat with the Panthers.

Brandon Smith is the No.9 with Siua Wong and Sitili Tupouniua both named to start in the second row.

Sandon Smith, Naufahu Whyte, Nat Butcher and Terrell May make up the interchange with Connor Watson, Angus Crichton, and Egan Butcher listed among the reserves.

The Broncos have made a half-dozen changes to the 17 that went down to Penrith in last year’s Grand Final with Selwyn Cobbo starting in the centres and Deine Mariner coming onto the wing.

Brendan Piakura starts in the second row with Corey Jensen starting alongside Payne Haas in the front row and former Rooster Fletcher Baker coming onto the interchange alongside Xavier Willison.

The Roosters have won five of their past seven against the Broncos.

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