Sources inside the Roosters camp have hinted that Mason will be held back for several reasons, the first being to reduce the early fireworks and the possible chance of penalites and potential sin binnings against his side – if things escalate early on. Nate Myles is reported to be getting the call-up to start the match, after initially being selected on the Roosters bench.
Secondly, the Roosters feel that injecting Willie Mason after 20 minutes might provide a nice advantage for side when the opposition begins to tire. South Sydney now boast one of the best forward packs in the NRL and it seems Brad Fittler is looking for an edge with smarter use of interchanging.
While there has been plenty of talk in the build-up to this game – starting with the likes of Craig Wing being targeted, then moving on to the Willie Mason vs David Kidwell battle it seems there might be more to it than just media beatup. The Roosters holding Mason back clearly shows they feel this one may heat up early on.
In the Souths camp, it seems Jason Taylor is doing his best to keep a lid on his players. Instructing several of his troops not to comment or buy into the banter pre-match; he knows all too well that you need to harness the aggression or risk copping a battering in the penalties early on.
It makes for an explosive opening tonight, with the first game of NRL Round 1 2008, set to be one of the best.
In what should be a close one, the NRL News team feel Souths might just have the edge.