BOASTING a prop named Loko and a back-rower who answers to Mexico, the PNG Residents sounded as though they could be a bunch of tough hombres, and on Saturday the team played its part to ensure Souths annual return to Redfern Oval was a bone-rattling occasion.
With Russell Crowe watching from the stands, the Rabbitohs won the encounter - but they suffered a few bruises along the way.
Mark Mexico nailed Souths forward Dave Tyrrell, when he returned the kick-off for the second quarter, like a cannon-ball. The Souths faithful screamed ''shoulder charge'' as Tyrrell was presumably asked by his team's trainer what planet he was on. He rallied a few minutes later to score a try to level the scores 12-12 after Souths finished the first quarter six points behind.
''I was just happy we got through unscathed and it was a really good hit-out,'' coach Michael Maguire said. ''It was a real good first-up trial.''
Maguire used the match to provide his players with experience in different positions. Justin Hunt, normally on the wing, played five-eighth and new recruit Bryson Goodwin played in the centres.
Maguire hinted at concerns about injured centre Matt King's availability for the opening round, and Goodwin could fill in for the former international. ''We'll find out a bit more about Kingy this week but Bryson has been great since he's been here, he's a real pro and happy to play anywhere so it is great to have a player like that when you have different issues,'' he said.
Goodwin, who joined Souths after fighting his way back from a split spleen while playing for Canterbury, already felt at home at Redfern. ''I'll just wait and see what the coach does, it's wherever he puts me,'' he said of the prospect of filling in for King. ''I'm just happy to get a start. [The coach] seems pretty happy with what I'm doing and hopefully, come game one, I'll be there.''
The game also signalled the start of Thomas Burgess's career with Souths, and Maguire was delighted with the fourth member of the famous English clan's size and ability. He couldn't help but feel for the PNG defenders as Tom and George Burgess pushed one another. ''They're two big boys having a run,'' he said with a grin. ''They're pretty scary. I think the PNG boys struggled a lot with the size of those boys - they're going to be great for us.''
If any Souths player pulled his boots on thinking the trial was going to be a walk in the park they were quickly enlightened by the men from Port Moresby, Lae and the Highlands. They copped some fierce hits and, time after time in the first half, numerous Rabbitoh raids were repelled with scrambling defence.
Their try-saving feats were assisted, to a degree, by the Souths attack, which failed to keep the ball alive out wide when there were tries begging. There were plenty of players trying to make things happen, including halfback Luke Keary.
While the visitors led briefly, Souths seized control of the game on the back of tries to Jason Clark, who bagged a double, Chris McQueen, Tyrrell, Ben Lowe, Aaron Gray and Bennett Leslie.
Meanwhile, Rabbitohs forward Michael Crocker has been named captain for the season. This marks a change from last year's captaincy structure, where five players were named as co-captains.
''Part of our culture is that we are one group and, as captain, I will simply be the spokesperson on the field and, in some cases, off the field as well for the playing group,'' Crocker said.