The Charity Shield will celebrate its 37th edition when the St George Illawarra Dragons and the South Sydney Rabbitohs take the field in Saturday evening's traditional pre-season fixture.
Teams locked in for final pre-season foray
The Dragons and Rabbitohs have named their strongest possible line-ups ahead of Saturday evening's trial.
Issac Luke and Tyrell Fuimaono will don Dragons colours for the first time, while Trent Merrin will run out for the Red V for the first time since 2015.
James Graham has again been rested, and will sit on the sidelines alongside the injured Matt Dufty (cheekbone), Cameron McInnes (knee) and Josh Kerr (knee).
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- Lower grade teams: Trial v South Sydney
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Dragons squad (alphabetical + numbers): 1. Zac Lomax, 2. Jordan Pereira, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Mikaele Ravalawa, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Ben Hunt (c), 8. Blake Lawrie, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell (c), 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Jacob Host. Interchange: 14. Trent Merrin, 15. Jackson Ford, 16. Tyrell Fuimaono, 17. Billy Brittain, 18. Brayden Wiliame, 19. Adam Clune, 20. Tristan Sailor, 21. Eddie Blacker, 22. Jason Saab.
Rabbitohs team: 1. Latrell Mitchell, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. James Roberts, 4. Braidon Burns, 5. Campbell Graham, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds (c), 8. Junior Tatola, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Thomas Burgess, 11. Jayden Su'A, 12. Cameron Murray, 13. Liam Knight. Interchange: 14. Patrick Mago, 15. Hame Sele, 16. Alex Johnston, 17. Keaon Koloamatangi, 18. Bryson Goodwin, 19. Corey Allan, 20. Bayley Sironen, 21. Troy Dargan, 22. Blake Taaffe, 23. Jack Johns, 24. Tom Amone.
First grade spots up for grabs
Tim Lafai is one of the game's experienced centres but in Brayden Wiliame he has a serious threat gunning for his spot ahead of the 2020 season.
Wiliame, new to the Dragons, joined the club from the English Super League's Catalans after three wildly successful seasons in the south of France.
Mikaele Ravalawa, Jason Saab and Jordan Pereira are also in a three-way tangle for wing spots, although the latter did his harms no good when he crossed for four tries in the Dragons' 38-12 win over the Newcastle Knights last weekend.
Tyrell Fuimaono will be out to impress after being handed a lifeline by the Red V to resume his career in the NRL. The same could be said for Billy Brittain, who has three weeks left on his train-and-trial contract to earn a spot in the Dragons' Top 30 squad.
Former Dragon Hame Sele is in the same boat as Brittain as he looks to shore up a permanent deal in Redfern. Dual Australian and Papua New Guinean international Alex Johnston finds himself in the curious position of being named on the interchange for the Rabbitohs also.
Dean Young's busy pre-season
Charity by name, Charity by nature
The annual clash began in 1982 and so too did the tradition of supporting local charities.
Proceeds and awareness of the Charity Shield will support the St.George Foundation and Souths Cares.
St George Foundation was founded in 1990 by St.George Bank, the major partner of the St George Illawarra Dragons, to help build a secure future for disadvantaged children via programs that enrich the lives of Australian children who are physically, socially or economically disadvantaged.
Additionally the Charity Shield will work in with Dragons Community's support of St George, Wollongong and Mudgee Hospitals. The Dragons have spent the week leading into the weekend's clash by visiting 10 schools across the Central West of New South Wales.
Charity Shield drought
The Dragons have a slight buffer when it comes to Charity Shield success overall (Played 36; Dragons, 16, Rabbitohs 15 Drawn 5) but haven't won the famed pre-season fixture in seven years.
For the third-straight year, the Charity Shield will be played in the Central West. 12 months ago, the Rabbitohs recorded a 36-24 win courtesy of a Corey Allan hat-trick.
Off the field, a moment's silence will be held for former St George and South Sydney winger Brian James just prior to the game's commencement. James passed away in January in a tragic farming accident.