After finishing the regular season in second place the Sharks went out in straight sets to the Cowboys and Rabbitohs last September but the positives far outweighed the negatives in Craig Fitzgibbon's first year at the helm.
From Nicho Hynes' dazzling Dally M deeds at halfback to the tryscoring deeds of Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo to Matt Moylan's resurgence in the No.6, the Sharks were a force all season and there's every reason to think they can be again.
Stability is a huge strength at the Sharks with minimal changes from 2022 and the addition of former Eel Oregon Kaufusi who looks set to grab a bench spot.
It's a similar story at Souths where big guns Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Cameron Murray are locked and loaded for another tilt at a premiership and they have their best side available for the season opener.
The Rabbitohs have lost their season opener for the past two years so they'll be looking to rectify that with a fast start against a fellow contender.
Sharks: No changes in Friday's update. Halfback Nicho Hynes is out with a calf injury, his place taken by Braydon Trindall. Former Eel Oregon Kaufusi makes his club debut off the bench after four seasons and 72 games at Parramatta. Prop Royce Hunt is out with an elbow injury so Braden Hamlin-Uele will start and Jack Williams joins the bench. Jayden Berrell, Niwhai Purr and Connor Tracey dropped out when the squad was reduced to 17.
Rabbitohs: No changes to the team named during the week. Winger Taane Milne has one game to serve on a suspension with Izaac Tu'itupou Thompson set to take his place. Hame Sele is out with a calf injury suffered during the Pre-Season Challenge. Livewire utility Blake Taaffe is in line for the No.14 jersey and Shaquai Mitchell's powerful Charity Shield performance has won him a spot in the bench for the fourth NRL appearance of his career. Jai Arrow returns to the starting side after coming from the bench in the Charity Shield and Jacob Host drops out. Terrell Kalo Kalo, Benjamin Lovett and Josiah Karapani were omitted 24 hours before kick-off.
Story first published by: NRL.com