NRL: Roosters, Souths set for season opener

Old foes the Roosters and Rabbitohs open the 2013 NRL season on Thursday. Photo / Getty Images
Old foes the Roosters and Rabbitohs open the 2013 NRL season on Thursday. Photo / Getty Images

Two of rugby league's most notorious enforcers are set to resume hostilities when bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney clash in the NRL season opener on Thursday night.

The last time South Sydney captain Michael Crocker had a serious confrontation with Sydney Roosters' recruit Luke O'Donnell it ended with the now Rabbitoh dazed and on the deck after an infamous hit in back-play.

It was 2004 and Crocker was playing for the Roosters against O'Donnell's North Queensland Cowboys for a place in the grand final.

But nine years later and with O'Donnell making his return to the NRL after two years in England, Crocker says the incident doesn't bother him.

"I'm not too worried about that, that was a lifetime ago," Crocker said on Sunday.

O'Donnell was placed on report after Crocker was left prone on the ground after he chased a Brett Finch kick in the first half of the match the Roosters won.

An unidentified Rooster was reportedly heard to say to O'Donnell, who was suspended in 2003 for breaking Michael Monaghan's jaw: "Take another 12 weeks, you f***ing dirty c***."

The match review committee was unable to get to the bottom of the matter after reviewing extra video footage.

The incident was described by then NRL match review commissioner Greg McCallum as "a bit of a mystery" with the only evidence coming from a touch judges report.

Crocker, who won a competition at the Roosters in 2002, is no stranger to the judiciary himself having been suspended for a total of 22 weeks in his career.

O'Donnell is in the top 10 of the most suspended players in Australia's elite rugby league competition since 1988 with 26 weeks, the same as popular former Roosters hardman Adrian Morley.

Crocker is looking forward to the Roosters' clash.

"The first round is always really important and obviously there's a really good build up, so it's perfect for us and perfect for the Roosters," he said.

"The fans hate each other as much as anyone else in the comp and I think they've pre-sold about 35,000 so it's going to be a fantastic atmosphere.

"It drives everything. It drives the atmosphere out on the field and it drives the intensity of the preparation."

- AAP


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