Fans in Dubbo already had every to look forward to the NRL arriving at Apex Oval in May but recent trial games has only heightened that sense of excitement.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers will meet at Dubbo in an NRL premiership match on May 23.
Both sides are already expected to be two of the major contenders this season and if early indications are anything to go by, they could well be towards the top of the NRL ladder when the round 11 match is played out west.
The Rabbitohs and Panthers have been two of the most impressive teams during the NRL pre-season.
The Wayne Bennett-coached Rabbitohs kicked off their campaign by fielding a young side against a Group 20 team in a trial match at Griffith last month and the men in red and green ran out convincing 58-0 winners.
Things only got better on the weekend when close to a full-strength Souths side produced a scintillating first-half display on the way to running out 48-16 winners over St George Illawarra in the annual Charity Shield match at Mudgee.
Latrell Mitchell, one of the game's biggest names set to grace Apex Oval in the coming months, was outstanding in that match and is only getting more comfortable at fullback.
Mitchell scored twice and was electric during the first half of the match at Mudgee and Rabbitohs fans at Dubbo will be hoping it's one of two stellar showings the premiership winner produces in the bush this year.
"It's still going to take me a long time to get used to the position but I'm really enjoying it," Mitchell said of playing fullback to NRL.com after the win at Mudgee.
"I've always been a fullback, to be honest. Through juniors I never played centre.
"I was five-eighth in the juniors before I came down to Sydney then I was straight into fullback. It's nothing new to me. It's just the workload, I've got to get used to it and training it and [the Charity Shield] was a good example of it.
"I'm really getting a lot out of it. Wayne [Bennett] has helped and the coaching staff have helped me a lot."
Mitchell credited Bennett for the positive feeling around the Redfern club at the moment.
"He enjoys coming to training, we love going to training and that's what it's all about. It's about us working together and enjoying ourselves," he added.
The Panthers might not have piled on the points like the Rabbitohs during their trial matches, but last season's beaten grand finalists have shown enough to prove they'll certainly be in the mix again in 2021.
After a 18-12 win over Mounties first-up, a vastly stronger Panthers side downed an almost full-strength Parramatta side 16-6 on the weekend.
"It was a really good hit-out and it was high quality for a trial game," Dubbo junior and Panthers co-captain Isaah Yeo said after the win over the Eels.
"I think both teams will take a lot out of it going into round one."
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