Grand finalists in 2021 and preliminary finalists last year, the Panthers and Rabbitohs renew their rivalry in a Thursday night blockbuster to open round two.
The premiers find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having lost two games in a row after going down in golden point to St Helens in the World Club Challenge and by a single point again to Brisbane in round one.
The last time Penrith lost back-to-back premiership matches was round 13-14, 2021 when they were hit hard by Origin representation, an incredible record they will be keen to protect this week when the Bunnies come calling.
Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Lachlan Ilias arrive at BlueBet Stadium bristling with confidence after a stylish second-half display against the Sharks and they hold the key to the Rabbitohs starting a season 2-0 for the first time since 2019.
The Panthers looked out of sorts against the Broncos as they adjust to life without Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau, but the form of new hooker Soni Luke and winger Sunia Turuva were big positives to come out of the season opener.
The showdown between chief playmakers Nathan Cleary and Ilias promises to be a beauty, while Jarome Luai and Cody Walker are two of the game's most explosive and unpredictable No.6s who can turn the game on its head with a piece of magic.
Match: Panthers v Rabbitohs
Round 2 -
Venue: BlueBet Stadium, Penrith
Panthers: No late news for the premiers, who have made just one forced change from last week's team, with Matt Eisenhuth joining the bench in place of Scott Sorensen (concussion).
Rabbitohs: Representative star Latrell Mitchell will line up at fullback despite dealing with a knee concern this week. There is just one positional move ahead of the game, with Davvy Moale now starting at prop and Daniel Suluka-Fifita, in for the injured Tevita Tatola (concussion), reverting to the bench. Jed Cartwright replaces Jai Arrow (hamstring).
Match: Panthers v Rabbitohs
Round 2 -
Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan EdwardsFullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Latrell Mitchell
Winger for Panthers is number 2 Sunia TuruvaWinger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex Johnston
Centre for Panthers is number 3 Izack TagoCentre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Isaiah Tass
Centre for Panthers is number 4 Stephen CrichtonCentre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Campbell Graham
Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'oWinger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson
Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome LuaiFive-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan ClearyHalfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Lachlan Ilias
Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses LeotaProp for Rabbitohs is number 10 Thomas Burgess
Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Mitch KennyHooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-HarrisProp for Rabbitohs is number 16 Davvy Moale
2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 Luke Garner2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Keaon Koloamatangi
2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Liam Martin2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Michael Chee Kam
Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray
Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Soni LukeInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 8 Daniel Suluka-Fifita
Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Matthew EisenhuthInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Blake Taaffe
Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer LeniuInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Jed Cartwright
Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jaeman SalmonInterchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Shaquai Mitchell
Replacement for Panthers is number 19 Lindsay SmithReplacement for Rabbitohs is number 18 Tallis Duncan
- Referee: Grant Atkins
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
- Senior Review Official: Chris Butler
- The Panthers have won nine of their past 10 games against the Rabbitohs.
- Panthers centre Stephen Crichton has scored six tries from his past seven games against the Rabbitohs.
- Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker has scored a try in his past five games against the Panthers.
- The Panthers have not lost back-to-back NRL games at BlueBet Stadium since 2019 (round seven and round 10).
- Panthers winger Brian To'o made 97 post-contact metres in round one to lead the NRL in that category.
- Halfback Lachlan Ilias had a career-high 71 Fantasy points for the Bunnies in the win over the Sharks to join Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves in the round one team of the week.