NRL Rd 14 - Cowboys v Rabbitohs
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 15: Keaon Koloamatangi of the Rabbitohs is tackled during the round 14 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at QCB Stadium on August 15, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The battle to fill South Sydney's vacancy in the back-row spot has been narrowed to two, with Keaon Koloamatangi and Jacob Host both putting their hands up for a starting spot.

The Rabbitohs once again dominated the Charity Shield with an impressive 48-16 victory over St. George Illawarra, and while the masterclass certainly answered may questions about the club's 2021 fortunes, there's still some waiting to be answered.

Bailey Sironen was an unsung hero for the Bunnies last year, starting in 12 of his 19 matches in 2020. Though following his sudden departure to the Warriors, there's a void to be filled on the left side of the field, with a Cam Murray return to the edge already ruled out.

Host and Koloamatangi started in the back-row with Jaydn Su'A absent from the pre-season trial, as the pair put in 63 and 69 minute stints respectively and looked to stake their claim.

A former Dragon, Host ran for 133m, the most of any forward in the match, and certainly looked solid after completing all of his 19 tackles on the left edge. Spending most of his career in the Red V being introduced off the pine, his last four appearances for the Dragons came starting on an edge, with Wayne Bennett then swooping on the underrated forward.

Koloamatangi is a different story. Whilst Keaon came through the junior system as a back-rower, he was introduced to the NRL as a middle forward off the bench last season, and didn't he deliver. Running 108m on average, half of which were contact metres, Koloamatangi is a physically imposing beast, though showed a different skill set as an edge.

Scoring a try alongside 66 running metres and 23 tackles, a move to the edge seems inevitable with the addition of Jai Arrow leaving their front-row rotation stacked.

Jed Cartwright, who also missed the match, remains an outside option after playing in the club's final six games in 2020, while youngster Brock Gardner was earmarked for debut before an Achilles tear brought his season to a halt before it begun.

Regardless of who earns the starting spot, the duo is likely to work in tandem, with one starting and the other joining Liam Knight and possibly Jai Arrow on the bench, with Thomas Burgess and Tevita Tatola the likely starting front-row pairing.

Whether the likes of Mark Nicholls or Hame Sele come off the pine as a fourth forward, or if Bennett elects to play Benji Marshall as a utility, is a whole other question.

Arrow even spent time in the unfamiliar position of the right edge, though found himself drifting into the middle more and more, which is where he suited up for the Titans as well as the Maroons.

The NRL is back next week, and it certainly isn't the only question left unanswered after the final week of trials, with Anthony Griffin having a lot more to answer than his South Sydney counterpart. Never a dull moment for a head coach, is there?

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