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Parramatta will be striving to arrest a worrying form slide after a two-match losing streak turned the fight for fourth place into hand-to-hand combat.

The Roosters claimed a share off fourth with their 28-0 drubbing of the Eels in the round 20 opener, eating into Parramatta's points differential advantage, while a red-hot Manly side is also closing the gap.

The Eels have one of the toughest closing draws of the top contenders so securing a result against high-scoring Souths is crucial if they aren't to give up their prized finals slot.

The Rabbitohs, in contrast, are sitting pretty six points ahead of the fourth-place scramble and with key troops poised to return to action.

Lock Cameron Murray returns from suspension for the clash with Parramatta while coach Wayne Bennett expects another two or three stars to be available for selection.

The rundown

Team news

Eels: After training well during the week, Mitchell Moses will return in a huge boost for the Eels. 

Blake Ferguson (head laceration) is out, with Haze Dunster to start on the wing. Jake Arthur was the other player to drop out of the extended squad 24 hours before kick-off.

Ray Stone will be the 18th man and Waqa Blake will play after passing protocols after failing a HIA last week.

Oregon Kaufusi moves into the starting side at prop with Reagan Campbell-Gillard (groin) out for an indefinite period.

Marata Niukore and Bryce Cartwright have been added to the bench. 

Eels fullback Clint Gutherson has scored five tries in his past five games against the Rabbitohs.

Rabbitohs: South Sydney will start 1-17 with Braidon Burns the 18th man.

Tevita Tatola will make an early return from a knee injury and Benji Marshall will return from a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

"I'll go into captain's run on Thursday and have a bit of a run on Friday," Marshall told NRL360 this week.

"I'm just looking forward to getting back with the team."

Patrick Mago and Blake Taaffe were omitted from the extended bench on Thursday night.

The Rabbitohs have scored 38 points in each of three consecutive wins over the Eels.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
    Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Latrell Mitchell
  • Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Josh Mansour
  • Centre for Eels is number 3 Tom Opacic
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Dane Gagai
  • Centre for Eels is number 4 Waqa Blake
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Taane Milne
  • Winger for Eels is number 18 Haze Dunster
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Jaxson Paulo
  • Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Dylan Brown
    Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
  • Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses
    Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds

Forwards

  • Prop for Eels is number 8 Oregon Kaufusi
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Mark Nicholls
  • Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
    Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
  • Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Thomas Burgess
  • 2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Isaiah Papali'i
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Keaon Koloamatangi
  • 2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Ryan Matterson
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Jai Arrow
  • Lock for Eels is number 13 Nathan Brown
    Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray

Interchange

  • Interchange for Eels is number 14 Bryce Cartwright
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Benji Marshall
  • Interchange for Eels is number 15 Shaun Lane
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Jacob Host
  • Interchange for Eels is number 16 Marata Niukore
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Tevita Tatola
  • Interchange for Eels is number 17 Will Smith
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Jaydn Su'A

Reserves

  • Reserve for Eels is number 19 Ray Stone
    Reserve for Rabbitohs is number 18 Braidon Burns

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Todd Smith
  • Touch Judge: Jon Stone
  • Senior Review Official: Henry Perenara

Last updated:

Key match-up

Reed Mahoney v Damien Cook: If not for Mahoney being injured, these two would probably have squared off during this year's State of Origin series. They're different styles of player, but both can be hugely effective. Mahoney and the Eels need to respond after last week's unhappy outing against the Roosters.

Stat attack

Clint Gutherson has surged into top spot for most runs in the NRL with 366, one more than injured Panthers winger Brian To’o with Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who has played his last game for the club, another four adrift.

 

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