Rabbitohs players aren't allowing themselves to contemplate 'what if' now that they have struck form too late to resurrect their finals hopes – but led by a fully fit Greg Inglis are looking to take some momentum into 2017.
Despite a couple of rousing wins to open their 2016 account, the 2014 premiers have largely struggled to capture anything like their best for this year and now find themselves preparing for a Round 26 dead rubber against Canterbury followed by an earlier-than-anticipated mad Monday.
Three straight wins – all of them impressive – have followed on from a heartbreaking one-point loss to the Storm at AAMI Park in Round 22.
That Storm game was a colossal improvement on an embarrassing 54-4 trouncing at the hands of the Raiders a week earlier and club captain Inglis nominates that experience as the point that reignited their form.
"We really sat back and had a hard look at ourselves in that Canberra game," Inglis said.
"It was quite embarrassing putting that performance in so we had to turn around and really concentrate on making a good strong performance leading towards the back end of the season. I feel like we did that as a group and as a club."
Inglis has been leading by his actions and was exceptional in a big win over the Knights last week. After being shuffled around to suit the needs of the team between centre and five-eighth he is back in his best spot and the move is paying dividends.
"I definitely am [enjoying being back at fullback], I love being back there," he said.
"It's unfortunate we're in the position we are in (being out of finals contention); there was a few changes going on and we never had our leaders all at once on the field probably since Round 2 – we haven't had our strongest 17 since then.
"The last month or so it's been really good for us taking the field and taking a step in the right direction."
Inglis laughed off any concerns a jarred ankle – suffered when he landed awkwardly fielding a ball last week – would have him in any doubt for the final club match of the year before he assumes the captaincy of the PM's XIII and embarks on a Four Nations campaign.
"Yeah I came good… it's just been on ice for the last 48 hours but I won't have any dramas taking the field this weekend," Inglis said.
"Just a bit of a jam in the joint but nothing that a bit of ice can't settle it down."
Despite on paper having nothing to play for, Inglis said it is important the team finishes the season off strongly.
"It's unfortunate we got ourselves in this position but it is what it is. We accepted that we couldn't make it a few weeks back and we just want to keep building on week in week out performance and I think we took a step in the right direction during that Melbourne game," he said.
"Even though it's our 'away' game we're playing at our home at ANZ so we'd love to see red and green out there supporting us in our last game of the season.
"I think we definitely can [build a platform]. It's something we can build on going into the pre-season and get a really good pre-season out of the way and step forward into next season."
It will be a tall order against a Canterbury side that has been a little out of sorts but has plenty to play for with a top-four spot in the offing.
"I think they'll come out and want to make a run for the finals now. Within their sanctum they know what has to be done and they're a top side," Inglis said.
"You can never write the Bulldogs off and even though they haven't shown great form they are heading into finals footy. They know when to turn it on and we have to be on our game on Friday night."
This article first appeared on NRL.com