PREVIEW: Finals Week 1 - Sharks v Rabbitohs
Sharks v Rabbitohs
It’s Elimination Final footy this Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium as the Rabbitohs meet the Cronulla Sutherland-Sharks for the first time ever in a Finals match.
Overall, both sides have met on 83 occasions, with the Sharks victorious 43 times, while South Sydney has taken the points in 37 of the encounters. But history will count for nothing come Sunday afternoon as both teams look to advance through the Finals.
“Its’ the time of year that you want to be playing Rugby League,” said Rabbitohs Head Coach Michael Maguire.
“We’ve got the Sharks in front of us and we’ll be preparing with everything we can put into this performance, so our focus is right on the things that we’re capable of.
“A lot of people talk about how it’s a new competition, and it is. Experience plays quite a big part in that and fortunately for myself, I’ve got quite a few players that have that experience around this time of year.
“We’re going to utilise that throughout this week and going into the game.”
Greg Inglis returns for the Rabbitohs after spending two weeks recovering on the sidelines following minor knee surgery – the Test fullback’s inclusion paving the way for Alex Johnston and Bryson Goodwin to return to their respective wings, while Dylan Walker and Kirisome Auva’a will partner in the centres.
“Greg means a lot to us as a Club,” said Maguire.
“But it’s about everyone making sure they do their part and Greg will come in and do that. I think the decision to have his knee operated on was a very smart one.
“I think the performance staff have definitely got that right from the point of view of how he’s moving around now. To have him back now, healthy, is a bonus for us.”
The halves pairing of Adam Reynolds and Luke Keary will again steer the team around the field.
In the forwards, Thomas Burgess, Dave Tyrrell and Cameron McInnes will make up the red and green front row, while Glenn Stewart, Chris McQueen and Kyle Turner will form the back of the scrum.
Maguire has opted for plenty of go-forward on his interchange bench, with the likes of Chris Grevsmuhl and Tim Grant set to relieve the forwards, while the presence of Jason Clark and Paul Carter will add versatility to the bench.
The Rabbitohs will be without George Burgess and Issac Luke – both players sitting in side-lines owing to suspensions. But despite the loss of the two forwards, Maguire is confident in the abilities of those selected to come into the side.
“The people who come in have played plenty of footy throughout the season,” said Maguire.
“Tom (Burgess) comes in to start and we’ve got a number of players that will come in and have their opportunity throughout the game. It’s about doing the job for their teammate.
“That’s what we’ve built this Club about – doing the things you need to do for your teammate and if there are moments where you need to get up off the ground, I’m sure the boys will be doing that.”
In the Shire, Sharks Coach, Shane Flanagan, has selected the same starting 13 to the Round 26 line-up that went down to the Sea Eagles at Cronulla by 14-12.
The likes of Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Chris Heighington and Valentine Holmes will all line up for the men in black white and blue in the starting side, while Flanagan has opted for an extended bench for the clash – notable inclusions coming in the form of Andrew and David Fifita, as well as Ben Barba.
The Rabbitohs will take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Week 1 of the NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series at Allianz Stadium this Sunday with kick-off slated for 4.10pm. Purchase your tickets!