Greg Inglis showed he should be the first superstar entitled to a marquee player allowance if the NRL introduce the salary cap concession after outshining Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess in the season opener at ANZ Stadium.
While most of the hype before the game had been around the two rugby union-bound stars, it was the other genuine superstar on the field who proved the difference as South Sydney stunned Sydney Roosters 28-8.
The Rabbitohs fullback scored three of his side's four tries and almost got a third late in the game as he proved a constant threat to the best defence of 2013 in a match played at a frantic pace under the new NRL rules.
The game also featured a number of other NRL initiatives, including the match review committee contacting Channel Nine midway through the second half for camera angles of an alleged first-half shoulder charge by Williams.
Souths second-rower Ben Te'o was also placed on report for a shoulder charge after Williams had offloaded the ball that had occurred in an earlier set of tackles but was replayed by Nine.
Roosters interchange forward Dylan Napa may also have a case to answer after being penalised for two shoulder charges when he came on as a replacement for Frank Paul Nuuausala, who was the first player to take advantage of the new concussion guidelines.
Nuuausala came from the field 12 minutes before halftime and was assessed by the Roosters doctor before being cleared to return without costing his team an interchange.
Rabbitohs prop Luke Burgess also looked to be concussed when he collapsed to the ground just before half-time after struggling to get into the defensive line following a head knock but he took the field in the second half.
Going into the half-time with the scores locked at 6-all, it appeared that little had changed during the summer between the top two teams of 2013 but by the end of the match Souths were clearly the better team and the defending premiers had received a reality check.
The opening 40 minutes also had a sense of familiarity about it in that it featured a freakish Michael Jennings try and the Roosters - the most heavily penalised side last season - were on the wrong end of a 6-3 penalty count.
While not in the class of the try Jennings scored in last year's grand final, his 11th minute touch down was still spectacular and laced in controversy after Jake Friend charged down a kick by Adam Reynolds and Daniel Tupou toed ahead.
With Reynolds chasing, Tupou again kicked the ball ahead before being illegally tackled by the Rabbitohs halfback only for Jennings to dive on the ball before it could go over the dead ball line.
Referee Ben Cummins told Reynolds he would have been dispatched to the sin bin for 10 minutes if the Roosters hadn't scored and had that occurred it could have had a massive impact on the game.
Instead, the Rabbitohs gained the ascendancy through Inglis, who crossed for his first try in the 22nd minute after taking it upon himself to get involved by running the ball twice in three tackles near the Roosters line.
After being stopped by Williams, Inglis took a pass from Chris McQueen and pirouetted to get the ball down despite the attention of three Roosters tacklers.
Inglis then put Souths ahead for the first time in the 52nd minute when he ran onto another off-load from Te'o near the tryline and was never going to be stopped from scoring.
In between, Roosters five-eighth James Maloney had kicked a penalty goal after consecutive infringements by Rabbitohs players near their own line in what could be interpreted as a tribute to the Souths defence.
Reynolds also kicked two penalty goals late in the second half to give the Rabbitohs some breathing space before Bryson Goodwin scored in the 76th minute and Inglis completed his hat-trick two minutes later.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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