South Sydney boast quality finishers on the flanks, where the game could be decided, among them Lote Tuqiri. Picture: GETTY IMAGES Reni Maitua (left) looks set to play hooker in place of Canterbury’s injured captain Michael Ennis. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
A month ago who would have been brave enough to put their money on Canterbury getting to a grand final, let alone winning the premiership?
I thought a Roosters-Rabbitohs decider was almost inevitable.
But what makes rugby league great is its unpredictable nature.
I’m backing South Sydney to get the job done on Sunday but if I’ve learnt anything over the past few weeks, it’s that you can’t count your chickens until the final siren sounds.
The Bunnies pulled off another come-from-behind victory over the boys from Bondi last week.
They are deserved favourites for the big game, but I can’t help wondering if they spent their tickets a week early.
The Rabbitohs stuck it to the Roosters and now they have to do it all again against the Bulldogs.
Some people are building this game as a battle of the big men.
There’s no doubt Sam Burgess and James Graham are two quality forwards, and both teams have strong packs.
But I believe the game will be won or lost on the outside.
South Sydney have a couple of quality finishers in the likes of Dylan Walker and try-scoring machine Alex Johnston.
Don’t forget “old man river” Lote Tuqiri on the other side of the field.
Michael Maguire needs to be commended for making a tough call and dropping Nathan Merritt to allow these younger guys an opportunity.
It also sends a message to the players that none of them are guaranteed a spot from week to week.
I get the feeling the Rabbitohs have more points in them than the Bulldogs.
Their Achilles heel could be at dummy half.
Whoever wears the No 9 jumper will have big shoes to fill.
I know both teams are missing their regular hookers but I think Issac Luke is harder to replace than Michael Ennis.
Luke provides so much to South Sydney in attack and seems to get the team rolling forward when the rest of the players are flat.
He is so often the man who lifts the players around him when the chips are down.
Don’t get me wrong, Ennis is a great player, but I get the feeling he will be easier to replace than Luke.
Des Hasler has a big decision to make in regards to the hooker position.
In my opinion you shouldn’t weaken one position to strengthen another.
The Dogs moved Josh Reynolds to dummy half in place of Ennis earlier in the year and it worked OK, but Reynolds needs to be at five-eighth for 80 minutes on Sunday.
They would be better off bringing in a specialist hooker to replace Ennis.
Reni Maitua looks like he will get the job and Des needs to put absolute faith in the replacement rake.
But you can’t question anything Des does.
His record is outstanding and you would be a fool to write off any team he is in charge of.
As far as bandwagon support goes, it’s safe to say a lot of people are jumping on South Sydney.
The Rabbitohs have been through some tough times and are shooting for their first premiership in 43 years.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on, Sunday’s game is going to be a cracker.
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