PREVIEW: Rd 26, 2016
Bulldogs vs Rabbitohs
Friday 2 September, 7:50pm
While not a home game for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, they return to their ANZ Stadium home for the final clash of their 2016 NRL Season with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Maguire has named a consistent team over the past several weeks which has seen his squad record three consecutive wins against tough opponents in the Warriors, Sharks and Knights. While the Bulldogs are without enforcer Sam Kasiano they will surely play a ferocious brand of football as they look to secure a more favorable finals draw with a higher finish on the NRL ladder.
Head Coach Michael Maguire is wary of the Bulldogs threat but has faith in the mentality his men in Red & Green have developed over the past month and the camaraderie within the playing squad forming through the strength of leadership among his senior players.
“A great challenge in front of us, the Bulldogs have obviously been up there pretty well all season and they’ve got a high quality team,” said Maguire.
“For us, it’s about taking all quality things we’ve been doing in the last 3-4 weeks and go out and enjoy our footy and play a game that we know we are capable of playing.”
While motivation for finals football is clear for the Bulldogs ahead of this Friday’s clash, the Rabbitohs also have plenty to fight for as we enter ANZ Stadium for our last game of the season. That motivation, Captain Inglis says, is to lay the foundations for their 2017 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,” said Inglis.
This Friday is the last chance the Rabbitohs have to showcase the intent and drive that resonates within the Simply Energy High Performance Centre at Redfern Oval and display their desire to continue to grow as a playing group.
Inglis believes the support of our Members & fans will help the Rabbitohs rise to the challenge of a brutal Bulldogs outfit on Friday night.
"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,” said Inglis.
The two teams will compete for the Special Olympics Cup that signifies an important partnership between the Rabbitohs, Bulldogs and Special Olympics Australia in providing a platform for thousands of Australians with an intellectual disability to reach their personal best both on and off the sporting field.
Spotlight: Michael Lichaa v Damien Cook
They were teammates last year, but on Friday night the two number nines will square off in a battle of differing styles out of dummy-half. Lichaa was the preferred hooking option at Belmore for most of 2015 but had to be replaced by Cook after suffering a season-ending ankle injury late in the year. Cook took his chance, scoring four tries from five matches, before linking up with the Rabbitohs. After struggling to cement a spot in the 17, Cook has played every minute of their last four matches and his inclusion has signalled a change in their style of play. While the Rabbitohs' rake can be the team's attacking spark, Lichaa's impact is less pronounced, but just as effective. You know what you're going to get from him every week through his defence and control around the ruck.
Penna’s squad are confirmed to finish the season in 15th place but will look to finish on a high note as they face the Bulldogs Under 20s squad who sit in 13th place.
With Beau Cordtz, a late inclusion at fullback against the Knights, coming into the halves to partner Chad O’Donnell and the emerging Cameron Murray named at lock there is an intent by the Rabbitohs NYC squad to take the match to the Bulldogs with some direct play.
It will be an entertaining curtain-raiser to the main event as two even teams who both play their last match of the season clash for the pride of their jersey above all else.