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South Sydney Rabbitohs at Accor Stadium

Season and More on the Line for Rabbitohs V Roosters at Accor Stadium

By Matt Cleary

Once upon a time, so the story goes, a family of South Sydney Rabbitohs supporters owned a pet rabbit that they called ‘Ron Coote’.

The animal was named after the champion NSW, Australia and Rabbitohs lock and captain who won four premierships with South Sydney in a storied 208-game career.

Outside John Sattler and the Immortal player and coach Clive Churchill there was no more popular Rabbits man than the great Ron Coote.

Yet when he left Redfern at the end of 1971 to join arch-rivals Eastern Suburbs Roosters, the family wrote Coote a letter informing him that so disappointed were they with his transfer that they had cooked and eaten the rabbit.

It was one of the more cordial reactions.

Coote was cursed by Souths fans. And not just sworn at but actually cursed. A lady who identified as a gypsy declared that following Coote’s ‘betrayal’ of the Bunnies he would forever be blighted by bad luck.

Coote would go on to win two premierships with the Roosters, buy into a new restaurant franchise called “McDonald’s”, and co-found the Men of League (today the Family of League) Foundation.

And on Friday night, the Rabbitohs and Roosters will play for the Ron Coote Cup.

As ever, there is much more than just two premiership points to play for.

The neighbouring territories have long enmity about ‘stealing’ one another’s players. They argue today about who’s the ‘Silvertail’ and who the ‘Fibro’.

They half-joke that north-south running Coogee Bay Road is ‘The Gaza Strip’.

Alex Johnston (No.2) scored five tries in Souths’ 60-8 flogging of the Roosters in 2020. Picture:

It is the game’s greatest and most intense rivalry.

And Friday night’s game promises to be as intense as any played in the 115 year history of matches between the Foundation Clubs from 1908.

Because on Friday night at Accor Stadium both clubs’ seasons are on the line.

The Roosters are in 10th position on the NRL ladder on 30 points. The Rabbitohs are in eighth position – also on 30 points.

With so much on the line fans can expect fierce defence on Friday night. Picture: South Sydney Rabbitohs

If the Roosters lose, they’re gone.

If the Rabbitohs lose, they’re gone.

And thus tickets are selling quickly with upwards of 35,000 fans expected in.

A crowd upwards of 35,000 fans is expected on Friday night at Accor Stadium. Picture: Accor Stadium.

On a sad note, pre-match both teams will observe a minute’s silence for much-loved Rabbitohs player No.1100 and 2014 premiership winner Kyle Turner.

It’s also Rabbitohs’ Old Boys Day, when the club’s past players form a guard of honour as the first grade side charges onto the field.

And then, post-match, when the gladiators have bled their last, the winning captain will be presented with the Ron Coote Cup.

And presenting it? None other than Ron Coote.

Doesn’t seem that curse worked.

Rabbitohs vs Roosters

Friday 01 September.

5:45pm    Gates Open

5:50pm    Kick Off: U18 – Botany Rams v Clovelly Crocs

8:00pm    Kick Off: NRL Telstra Premiership – Rabbitohs v Roosters

Top Tips:

Plan to arrive early at the Stadium, leaving plenty of time for the entry process and to find your seat.

Pre-purchase tickets online via Ticketek to beat any queues at the box office. Download and share your tickets with your group before arriving at the Stadium.

To ensure a smooth entry, please leave large bags at home.

Consider all your transport options and travel with your group.

All tickets to Rabbitohs home games at Accor Stadium include travel on Sydney Trains, Metro and Light Rail services. Visit for more information and to plan your trip.

Trains run regularly to Olympic Park station from Lidcombe every 10 minutes until late. Accor Stadium is a short walk from the station.

Remember – Accor Stadium is a cashless venue.

La Perouse junior and 200-game try-scoring wizard Alex Johnston back at Accor Stadium for Junior Appreciation Round

By Matt Cleary

ALEX JOHNSTON returns to Accor Stadium on Saturday with 200 NRL games and 171 tries to his name.

That he notched a double last weekend in Magic Round against Melbourne Storm would have come as little surprise to Rabbitohs fans. Johnston is Souths’ all-time try-scoring record holder and has the most tries at Accor Stadium (82) ahead of fellow Rabbitoh Nathan Merritt (70) and Josh Morris (68).

On Saturday all league fans will have the chance to celebrate the star winger’s landmark in the round 11 match against Wests Tigers.

The humble 28-year-old will bolt onto the playing surface through a purpose-built banner while thousands of fans will don AJ facemasks. A presentation post-match will be attended by supporters gathered on Accor Stadium’s turf for ‘Fans on the Field’.

The fixture is part of Souths’ Junior Appreciation Round and will kick-off at the family-friendly time of 3pm.

There’ll be a “super-charged Kids Zone” at Gate K/J, march-pasts of players from South Sydney’s junior competition, and lucky ‘junior mascots’ who will walk onto Accor Stadium with their heroes.

That Johnston is one of seven local juniors suiting up for Souths on Saturday is a happy coincidence.

Alex Johnston is mobbed by Rabbitohs team-mates after breaking the all-time South Sydney try-scoring record in 2022. Pic:

Johnston played junior league for La Perouse Panthers, as did another try-scoring wizard, Josh Addo-Carr, and former NSW Origin speedster James Roberts.

Other Souths juniors who’ll run out for the Rabbitohs on Saturday include Cameron Murray (Mascot) and Campbell Graham (Coogee Wombats and Maroubra Lions).

Blake Taafe (La Perouse Panthers) will be the Bunnies’ No.18 while Peter Mamouzelos (Maroubra Lions) and Dean Hawkins (Matraville Tigers) were named on Souths’ extended bench.

Wrecking ball Keaon Kolomatangi (Mascot) is injured.

Along with the juniors, Saturday will be, effectively, ‘AJ Appreciation Day’.

It’s acknowledgement of a man whose numbers are approaching those of the greatest try-scorer ever.

Alex Johnston (front row, second from right) with all-conquering La Perouse Panthers. Pic: La Perouse Panthers.

As stats guru and author of the 2022 Official Rugby League Annual, David Middleton, would tell you, North Sydney Bears and Manly Sea Eagles legend Ken Irvine holds the all-time try-scoring record of 212 tries in 236 games at the rate of 0.89 tries per game.

Johnston’s 171 tries in 200 games come at a strike-rate is 0.85 tries per game.

It’s estimated that if he continues at his current rate of try-scoring Johnston could pass Irvine’s record in his 250th NRL game which – touch plenty of wood, all things going well for him – could happen early in 2025.

Johnston’s 30th birthday will be on Anzac Day, April 25, 2025.

Just putting it out there.

Magic: Alex Johnston’s try-scoring strike-rate (0.85 tries per game) is seventh-best on the all-time list behind Harold Horder, Reg Gasnier, Frank Burge, Ray Preston, Ken Irvine and Ian Moir. Pic:

Middleton will tell you that Irvine scored four tries in a game … seven times.

Middleton will also tell you that Johnston twice did something Irvine never did – scored five tries in a single game.

Irvine has nine hat-tricks.

Johnston has 10 hat-tricks.

The chances of Johnston adding another one against Wests Tigers on Saturday afternoon should not be discounted. In the corresponding game last year, in Indigenous Round, Johnston scored a hat-trick against the Tigers while also over-taking Merritt’s record for most tries for Souths.

The Rabbitohs have named the same 17 players that belted Melbourne Storm 28-12 in Brisbane, while Wests Tigers welcome back the X-factor from England, John Bateman, into the team that beat St George Illawarra Dragons 18-16.

Match Day schedule:

12:25Gates Open
12:40Kick Off: Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, Rabbitohs v Western Suburbs Magpies:
15:00Kick Off: NRL Telstra Premiership, Rabbitohs v Wests Tigers

Match Day Top Tips:

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