The Sydney Roosters’ lethal left edge, led by Luke Keary, will be licking their lips with South Sydney forced into a major backline reshuffle following suspensions to Braidon Burns and Hymel Hunt.
Heading into Thursday’s blockbuster local derby at ANZ Stadium, the Roosters combination of Keary, Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou have started the season in superb form and been a driving force behind their unbeaten start.
Of the 13 tries the Roosters have scored 10 of them have come down that left channel.
Stopping the powerful trio has proved hard enough this year but the Rabbitohs’ job became even harder on Monday after Hunt was sidelined for four weeks for a swinging arm on Brendan Elliot and Burns copped a week for a shoulder charge.
The pair were set to mark up on Mitchell and Tupou and Michael Maguire will now have to turn to a rookie combination.
Siosifa Talakai, Ed Murphy and Dane Nielsen shape as options to come into the back line.
Souths skipper Sam Burgess described the Roosters as the form team of the competition and a major challenge for his side, who are coming off back-to-back wins.
“They’re undefeated, they’re the team that everyone is looking at as the benchmark,” Burgess said.
“They’ve recruited well in the off-season, it’ll be a great challenge.”
Keary has been a revelation since his off-season move to the Roosters with Thursday night’s clash his first meeting with his old club.
The No.6 departed in acrimonious circumstances following a falling-out with co-owner Russell Crowe while on a pre-season bonding trip.
He has emerged as a shock leader in the Dally M voting after picking up maximum points in each game to be three points in front of Cameron Smith.
“I think we’ve seen in the results that Luke’s played a key role, he’s set up a few and scored a couple himself,” Burgess said.
“I know him very well, he’s a great competitor. He’ll be competing very hard on Thursday night so it’ll be a real danger match for us.”