South Sydney’s NRL season is on life support but they can at least draw on recent history as motivation for their clash with Parramatta.
The Rabbitohs languish 12th on the ladder after last weekend’s defeat to Wests Tigers – their eighth loss in an underwhelming season.
With a trip to Penrith looming before home clashes against last year’s grand finalists, Friday’s game with the Eels looms as crucial for the Rabbitohs’ 2016 hopes.
Coach Michael Maguire and his men face an opponent they’ve grown accustomed to beating in recent times: Souths have won nine of their past 10 encounters with Parramatta.
That record gets even better when you take into account the venue, with the Rabbitohs victorious in seven of their past seven against the Eels at ANZ Stadium.
Earlier this year, Souths came out on top in a seesawing round 10 battle at Parramatta Stadium.
A sideline conversion by Adam Reynolds sealed a 22-20 win for Souths against an Eels team still coming to grips with the salary cap sanctions announced against them that week.
Reynolds won’t feature in Friday’s contest due to his State of Origin commitments for NSW, with club captain Greg Inglis away on Queensland duties.
That means Cody Walker and Luke Keary will be the Rabbitohs’ halves for the first time since round six.
The Eels have made one change from the line-up that defeated Gold Coast in Darwin last Sunday, with Vai Toutai replacing NSW representative Michael Jennings in the centres.
Eels coach Brad Arthur says the round 10 defeat to Souths was all about the forward battle.
“Their forwards probably got on top of our forwards last time,” he said.
“We need to make sure we aim up there and we’re very strong and physical through the middle.”
* Souths’ two wins from six at home this season is their worst start to a season since 2009.
* Parramatta have won four from five on the road this season.
* Alex Johnston has scored 20 tries from 22 appearances at ANZ Stadium.