2014 NRL Finals Series - Preliminary Finals

Discussion in 'General Rugby League' started by rhugh89, Sep 20, 2014.

  1. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    We have 2 blockbusters in the 2014 NRL Finals series this week !!

    Who will play in the 2014 Grand Final ??

    All discussion, Previews, Late Mail, Predictions and Team News will be posted in here !!

    Don't forget we will be doing vBookie for ALL NRL FINALS MATCHES

    Preliminary Finals

    Friday, September 26, 7.55pm, ANZ Stadium

    South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters

    Saturday, September 27, 7.45pm, ANZ Stadium

    Penrith Panthers v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

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  2. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    South Sydney Rabbitohs v Sydney Roosters: The $1m all-Sydney NRL grudge match

    • SEPTEMBER 21, 2014 12:00AM

    IT was the field goal worth almost $1 million to the NRL.

    As North Queensland reflect on another heartbreaking finals exit, all roads will lead to ANZ Stadium for this Friday night’s preliminary final blockbuster between bitter rivals South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters.

    A crowd of up to 60,000 is expected to attend the ultimate grudge match, providing the code with a much-needed boost after two weeks of underwhelming finals crowds.

    Had the Cowboys won through to the grand final qualifier against the Rabbitohs, a crowd of up to 30,000 was expected for the match in Sydney.

    Instead, officials are expecting a cash bonanza of over $900,000 from ticket sales at an average of $30, merchandise and hospitality sales and corporate areas sold for one of the sport’s greatest rivalries.

    To add more drama to the clash, it will be the first time since 1938 that the Rabbitohs have played the Roosters in a finals match.

    But the beauty and the lure of witnessing what most believe is the grand final a week early is the series of subplots and many chapters that have developed over this 106-year rivalry.

    The match will be analysed and retold in the build-up over the next five days.


    It reads like a heavyweight title fight, a promoter’s dream with more stars on display than you would see on Hollywood Boulevard.

    Sam Burgess v Sonny Bill Williams, Greg Inglis v Anthony Minichiello, Daniel Tupou v Lote Tuqiri, Adam Reynolds v Mitchell Pearce, Jake Friend v Issac Luke.

    The match will also be played with the backdrop that it could be the last time that either rugby union bound Burgess or Williams play in the NRL.

    Then there is the sentiment revolving around retiring Roosters skipper Minichiello.

    “We’re doing it for Mini and Sonny — especially Mini. He has been a massive,’’ Roosters front-rower Jared Waerea-Hargreaves said.

    “He is a legend and that is why we want to go out there and not only do it for him, but do it for each other and do it for the club.’’


    The most significant chapter in South Sydney owner Russell Crowe’s Book Of Feuds, a chronicle of the rivalries and the hatred that existed with the other teams in the NRL, is the chapter on South Sydney’s rivalry with the Roosters.

    Both foundation clubs, both with rich histories, the hatred for each other runs deep — and it has lasted for more than a century.

    “It seems there’s nothing they do that isn’t in some way aimed at us, or at imitating us,’’ Crowe wrote.

    “They changed their name twice to try to capture the inner-city market.’’

    Roosters captain Minichiello has his own views on the animosity.

    “It’s the neighbouring clubs thing,’’ said Minichiello, who will play his 302nd game for the club this Friday and break Luke Ricketson’s record

    “You see each other, you mix with each other and it creates an instant rivalry. It’s been going for over 100 years.’’


    Three weeks ago, Crowe revealed it was at the airport that he had unexpectedly met his long-time rival, Sydney Roosters godfather Nick Politis, for the first time.

    “Contrary to popular belief among Souths fans, he only had the one head and wasn’t eating babies at the time I met him,’’ Crowe said.

    “It was a more than pleasant exchange. He seemed a very nice man.”

    Their paths are bound to cross again this Friday night.Officials are expecting a string of corporate heavies and A-list stars will be invited by both Crowe and Politis, with the tension from inside the corporate suites expected to be just as brutal as the action down below.THE STATS

    When it comes to crunching the numbers, nothing separates the two teams.

    In 2014, bragging rights have been split at 1-1 with the Rabbitohs winning 28-8 in round one — with Greg Inglis scoring a hat-trick to ring in the new season — and the Roosters gaining the most recent advantage in round 26, holding on to win 22-18 and claim the minor premiership.

    In their past five clashes, South lead 3-2.

    he bookies are also struggling to separate the rivals, with the TAB installing the Rabbitohs as slim favourites at $1.80 and the Roosters $2.

    Surprisingly, while ANZ is considered the Rabbitohs’ home ground, it’s the boys from Bondi who have dominated on Souths’ patch.

    Of the nine ANZ Stadium matches played between the clubs, the Roosters lead 6-3.

  3. Joshhh

    Joshhh OnARampageFuelledByGod

    Feb 21, 2010
    New Lambton, Newcastle
    Very strange to think either the Panthers or Bulldogs will be in the grand final, but the Panthers have deserved it & the Dogs have lifted at exactly the right time.
  4. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Jackson escapes chicken wing charge


    11:10am Mon 22nd September, 2014

    Bulldogs forward Josh Jackson has escaped further scrutiny for a chicken wing tackle on Manly prop Josh Starling, prompting a fracas that led to Starling being sin-binned for throwing a punch.

    The 24th-minute tackle, described by Manly coach Geoff Toovey after the game as an "arm bar", threatened to rub Jackson out of his side's preliminary final against Penrith; his 67 carry-over points from a tripping charge earlier in the year meaning even a grade one charge for unnecessary pressure and an early plea would have resulted in at least one match on the sidelines.

    Starling took great exception to the position he was placed in, throwing the football at Jackson's head after the on-field referees penalised the Canterbury back-rower, sparking a push and shove in which Starling was sin-binned under the NRL's 'no punch' policy.

    Despite Jackson being placed on report for the tackle, the NRL's Match Review Committee deemed it not worthy of further sanction.

    This comes in contrast to similar tackles in recent weeks that have seen Rooster Aidan Guerra and Rabbitoh Ben Te'o rubbed out for one and four weeks, respectively.

    Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said after the game he did not expect Jackson to have a case to answer.


  5. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Statement regarding NRL match review

    12:16pm Mon 22nd September, 2014

    The NRL Match Review Committee said today that no charges would be laid following Week 2 of the NRL Telstra Premiership Finals.

    The Match Review Committee looked at several incidents over the weekend but determined that none warranted charges.

    The committee found that a tackle by Bulldogs forward Josh Jackson did not take the arm of his opponent, Josh Starling outside the normal range of movement.

    As a result, no charges were laid, in line with the judiciary code.

    The Match Review Committee also looked at a tackle by Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis on Manly half, Daly Cherry Evans but determined that it did not warrant a charge.

    No charges were laid for Holden Cup matches.


  6. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012

    Read More: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-sport/nrl-finals-crowds-up-on-last-year-20140922-3gci8.html
  7. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Kicking kings: NRL’s sharpshooters face off with a spot in grand final on the line

    • SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 12:00AM

    THEY are the kings of closing out tight games and this weekend the NRL’s finest sharpshooters will face off with a spot in the grand final on the line.

    But in a season that has officially given us the tightest finishes to games in rugby league’s 106 year history, Trent Hodkinson has the stats that prove you’d want Canterbury’s ice man on your side if the matches this weekend are again decided by field goals.

    Hodkinson will go up against Penrith’s one point masters Matt Moylan and Jamie Soward on Saturday night, while on Friday night in the Souths-Roosters match Adam Reynolds and James Maloney face off.

    In the wake of another nailbiting weekend, The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Hodkinson has almost double the success rate of his closest finals rival when it comes to slotting one-point winners.

    Incredibly, 16 games this year have been decided by exactly one point which is the most ever in a season.

    And no team has ever won more one point games in a year than Canterbury have in 2014.

    On the back of the two field goals Hodkinson landed in the 18-17 win over Manly, Hodkinson’s field goal tally is now 13 from 17 attempts for an incredible strike rate of 76.5 per cent.

    To put that in perspective, Moylan is next on the list of the remaining finalists with three from seven shots (42.9 per cent), while Panthers teammate Jamie Soward follows with 18 from 46 (39.1 per cent) since 2010.

    The Roosters’ James Maloney has hit nine from 28 (32.1 per cent) and Souths’ Adam Reynolds seven from 26 (26.9 per cent).

    Mitchell Pearce has only landed one field goal from 14 shots (7.1 per cent).

    But when it comes to goal kicking, Maloney has the best strike rate at 83.7 per cent, narrowly ahead of Hodkinson (82.7), Reynolds (78.5), Soward (73.5) and Moylan (53.9).

    Asked what goes through his mind when he is lining up for a shot in a pressure finish, Hodkinson told Triple M on Sunday:

    “I enjoy those sort of situations. I am quite confident going into the final few minutes and there is a field goal on the line.”

    Saturday night was the Bulldogs’ fourth win this season by exactly one point, with victories over Manly, Souths, Warriors and Roosters.Hodkinson has landed the field goal in three of those games, and importantly, he has lost just one of his 10 career games when kicking a field goal.

    Penrith don’t hold up too bad, winning three games by one point this season against the Roosters, Cowboys and Broncos, which was the equal record before the Bulldogs went past them on Saturday night.

    Moylan has kicked the winning field goal in two of those games and Soward the other.Moylan also landed the sideline conversion to beat the Bulldogs in round three and kicked the field goal against Manly in round 25 which looked to have secured the win for Penrith before Manly’s comeback.

    Another stat worth pointing out is that Penrith have played 10 games this season decided by four points or less and have won six and lost four.

    Canterbury have played nine games decided by four points or less and won seven and lost only two.

    Overall in the competition, Johnathan Thurston has the best field goal strike rate (85.7 per cent) ahead of Gareth Widdop (80 per cent).


    - - - Updated - - -

    Penrith Panthers hold secret training session on Bulldogs turf in lead-up to NRL grand final qualifier

    • SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 12:51PM

    THE Penrith Panthers are leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of a premiership, holding a secret training session in enemy territory this morning.

    The Panthers trained for more than an hour on ANZ Stadium — the venue for this Saturday night’s grand final qualifier which is also the home ground of rivals Canterbury.

    The 9am session was strictly closed to media.Penrith ace Jamie Soward used the opportunity to test out the stadium surface and work different angles with his deft kicking game.

    Ironically, the ground is also where Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has installed special cameras behind the goal lines of ANZ Stadium to capture defensive and attacking formations of his team during training.

    The Daily Telegraph has been told the cameras were not in operation during the Panthers session.

  8. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Mini's perfect Beetson symmetry

    By Dan Walsh, Staff Writer
    6:00am Tue 23rd September, 2014

    Like so many things good and proper in rugby league, Anthony Minichiello's career started with Arthur Beetson.

    Artie and Mini.

    They sound like a pair of travelling circus clowns.

    They are of course two of the finest Chooks to ever strut their stuff in the red, white and blue.

    Now Minichiello rounds the last bend on bettering Luke Ricketson's club record of 301 first grade games and a final, 15th year spent pulling on the boots.

    And the deities that govern the greatest game of all have cooked up another one of those delightful pieces of symmetry that only rugby league can deliver.

    One man, and one man only, has led the Roosters on a grand final victory lap in consecutive Septembers.

    In 1974 and again in 1975, it was Beetson who lifted the JJ Giltinan shield to the heavens, the trophy in those days awarded to the grand final winners rather than first past the post in regular season.

    Minichiello has already guided the proud foundation club to back-to-back minor premierships, a feat matched only by Beetson in 1974/75 and hardman Royce Ayliffe in 1980/81.

    Should he keep the Chooks on track for a second title in as many years, he'll bow out of the game again standing alongside the seventh immortal.

    Right back where he started out as a 16-year-old collection of skin, bones and undeniable talent, being presented to the Roosters first grade squad by Beetson like a Southern debutante.

    A 16-year-old who Beetson, renowned as one of the sharpest recruitment eyes in the game, needed less than half an hour to whack his coveted rubber stamp on.

    "Mini was invited out to a trial at Henson Park, and he only had to play a certain number of minutes, not many at all, before Arthur had seen enough," recalls then lower grade coach and current Roosters CEO Brian Canavan.

    "I can remember sitting with Arthur in the grandstand at that stage, and Arthur in those early days used to describe him as a pinball player.

    "That was because of his ability to bounce and spin out of tackles and he's kept that right throughout his career, which is extraordinary given the number of games he's played at all levels."

    So Big Artie, along with plenty of others in the Chook pen, went about sculpting and moulding the teenage pinball wizard he would go onto to declare his greatest ever recruit to the club in 2005. Imparting the knowledge accrued across four decades in the game, with Minichiello hanging on every word.

    "He's a legend of the game, and he ended up a great mate of mine," Minichiello says.

    "If he was giving you advice, saying something to you, you always took it in and listening with bated breath. He was just a wealth of knowledge.

    "He's the guy that I looked up to. I didn't see too much of his playing days, but I've seen some highlights and what a player.

    "Artie was such a great character and a great storyteller. When he speaks and tells those stories, everyone listens."

    Listening closer than most was Minichiello.

    But the proof isn't in a pudding of 18 green and gold jumpers, another 11 in the sky blue of NSW, and a club record 137 career tries.

    It's in how he wore each of those cherished jerseys. How he went about scoring that mountain of four-pointers.

    "What Arthur had was an ability to transfer to players in key positions how to develop vision for the game," says Canavan.

    "I can remember Arthur talking to Anthony as a fullback and a winger about keeping what's important in sight: 'Keep looking up, always looking up, don't look down.'

    "And the other thing with Mini and Arthur was always 'keep driving your legs'. With his ability to hit and spin, bounce and all that, as soon as he bounces he's gone again."

    When Minichiello graces the turf, that vision, that awareness is plain for all to see.

    It's there in the switcheroo play he and heir apparent Roger Tuivasa-Sheck pull out at will when pressing an opponent's line, more often than not sending the 34-year-old over in the right-hand corner.

    The leg drive is in every kick return, every scramble to make the field of play and deliver his side from danger.

    Off the pitch it's even more apparent.

    That vision and awareness of his standing in the game is why he was made the face of it at the start of the year.

    The time he has for everyone in the game, from the smallest fan to the biggest appendage-swinging official and all in between is without peer.

    Canavan reckons Beetson was the most popular bloke he's ever seen in league. And hot on his heels comes Mini.

    As for the drive, well that's what brought Minichiello back from the brink.

    Not from the stinker of a pass he lobbed into the path of Robert Lui last weekend.

    Let the record show that within minutes afterwards, he defused two spiralling Johnathan Thurston bombs that were just about atomic in nature without skipping a beat.

    Or the split-second decision against the Panthers a week earlier that proved to be the wrong one when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak flicked the ball back into play from under Minichiello's nose for the match-turning try.

    Those two uncharacteristic blunders are small fry compared to where Minichiello's been during his time.

    From the heights of being hailed the best player in the world and claiming the Golden Boot that goes with such a title in 2005, to the depths of a back injury that dogged him for all of 2006.

    The same injury that resulted in bone being shaved from his spine and three weeks spent lying in agony during 2007.

    In 2008 he was hauled off the training paddock by club medico John Orchard, who possessed scans revealing the same bulging disc in his neck that had forced the greatest of them all – Andrew Johns – into retirement.

    And after three years of rehab and recovery, revolutionary weights programs and diets, the ligaments in his left ankle packed it in and confined him to the sidelines for four months of 2009.

    The 63 games he missed over those four years would've taken Minichiello past Darren Lockyer as the most capped player in the game.

    But it's the fact he's sat out just nine matches in the five years since that has him cherished above all others by his teammates.

    "That's why Mini's so respected," says Chooks firebrand Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

    "He's never taken the easy option. He's a man that's been through thick and thin, not only with the club but with his own performances and health.

    "He's overcome those injuries, and as an athlete, you look at him and at one point he was pretty much down and out.

    "For him to come back from that, it just shows the character of the guy to overcome those sorts of injuries and push on.

    "I look at it now, and if he's not in the best form of his career, he's definitely playing consistently every week and up the top each week."

    As the Tricolours went into last year's decider, Trent Robinson made sure they knew of Beetson's contribution to the halls of Roosters HQ.

    So much so that the six men he had brought to the club that still remained; Mitchell Pearce, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Jake Friend, Mitch Aubusson and of course Minichiello dedicated their premiership win to the big fella.

    "Arthur just had such a wonderful life," Minichiello says.

    "He was loved by so many people. And he just had a presence about him.

    "He would've looked down on us last year and probably gave us a smile. So we'll see what happens but hopefully we can do the same again this year."

    The skipper won't say so himself, and the rest of the squad won't utter it in anything more than a whisper.

    But now just 80 minutes away from taking the field on that first weekend in October, there is one man in mind more than any other.

    Anthony Minichiello. A man whose career starts and ends right alongside Arthur Beetson.

    Two peas in a symmetrical pod.


    - - - Updated - - -

    Te'o, Napa set for NRL finals return

    By James MacSmith
    5:01am Tue 23rd September, 2014

    Banned duo Ben Te'o and Dylan Napa are expected to be named to return to NRL finals action when the teams for this weekend's preliminary finals are named on Tuesday.

    South Sydney back-rower Te'o is likely to be included on the bench in Michael Maguire's Rabbitohs side for Friday night's ANZ Stadium showdown with bitter arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters.

    Te'o was handed a four-match ban for a 'chicken wing' tackle on Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday in the Rabbitohs 42-16 win in round 23 at Suncorp Stadium.

    Roosters prop Napa copped a two-game suspension for a shoulder charge on Souths' captain John Sutton, the last time the sides met in the premiers' round 26, 22-18 win.

    French international Remi Casty could make way for Napa, as coach Trent Robinson looks to beef up his side against the monster Rabbitohs pack.

    Luke or Thomas Burgess could move aside for Queensland representative Te'o on the Rabbitohs bench.

    In the weekend's other playoff for a grand final appearance, Canterbury back-rower Josh Jackson is free to play against Penrith on Saturday at ANZ Stadium, after the NRL match review committee ruled he had no case to answer after being put on report for an alleged 'chicken wing' tackle on Manly's Josh Starling.


  9. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Cleary beats Hasler to underdog tag

    By Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent
    4:34pm Mon 22nd September, 2014

    Having spent the past week with their heads in the clouds following their stunning defeat of the defending premiers, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has moved quickly to assume underdog status for this Saturday's grand final qualifier against the Bulldogs.

    A somewhat surprise entrant of the NRL's final four, Cleary said his team had been playing with the outsider's tag for almost the past two months.

    "I think the last seven games we've played, we've probably been underdogs. And we'll probably be the same thing this week," he said at a coach's call from Rugby League Central on Monday.

    "We understand where we are and who we are. We just try and make it hard for teams to beat us."

    His counterpart however, a famous subscriber to under-the-radar methodology, surprisingly rejected his pre-match ritual of labelling their opposition as favourites for the match.

    "Nah, I won't go there," Des Hasler said.

    The normally cagey Bulldogs coach instead played a straight bat when it came to dissecting what was key at this time of the season.

    "When it comes to the finals, it comes down to the game and the match and the momentum and the flow.

    "Let's hope it's a lack of referees calls, and I think it'll be a real tight game," he continued.

    "There's so much to play for. The players more than anything, are aware of that.

    "So it'll come down to someone's carry, or someone's pass, or someone's tackle, or a kick – and Penrith are very well versed in a lot of those things."

    Cleary said his side had come back down from the euphoria of eclipsing minor premiers the Roosters with a final-minute field goal a week ago.

    "Yeah, it was a fairly big occasion for us," he said.

    "It's not every day that the Panthers are actually in the finals. And to beat the premiers is a pretty big deal.

    "I guess we've had a bit of time to come back down, which we have. Hopefully we can have a bit more fun this week."

    While the Panthers will have had the best part of two weeks to prepare for this week's showdown, the Bulldogs will spend a large part of their preparation recovering from last Saturday night's golden point epic against Manly.

    Hasler predicted another down-to-the-wire finish against the season's surprise packets.

    "I guess time will tell [how they back up]," he said.

    "I'm glad Ivan enjoyed it because I didn't. But look, such is the way players are full-time and recovery is advanced and all that.

    "We'll wait and see how the match pans out. I think it will end up close."


    - - - Updated - - -

    Hasler's lesson on moment-um

    By Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent
    4:45pm Mon 22nd September, 2014

    So what do you get when four coaches, one of them a former teacher, turn up to Rugby League Central in late September?

    Almost 20 minutes' worth of rugby league's best political-speak and, as host Yvonne Sampson eloquently put it, a timely lesson in linguistics.

    Most of the NRL sphere was still reeling from twin final score-lines that made the Holden Cup look like a game of soccer on Monday, so we put it to the four remaining clipboard holders:

    Had they thrown their playbooks out the window and merely instructed them all to fire at will?

    How, with only a grand final qualifier up for grabs, did we get two semi-finals where the only opponents teams were facing inside the first half-hour mark were the clock?

    "You've got to think about it because it has happened in a lot of games this year," said Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

    "I think Saturday night's game, our first game, Manly-South as well – it's happened a lot, in a lot of games.

    "The attacking advantage that's happened in the rule changes this year – and some tweaks to that – has given room for larger momentum changes.

    "So as soon as a team gets an advantage, they've got better advantage through refereeing interpretations and some rules.

    "And it's hard for a team to right that when they're under pressure. Especially under the pressure of this end of the season."

    Also, Robinson adds, it helps when you have a player like Johnathan Thurston.

    "We had a fairly good player in the opposition who could've won that game for them and we couldn't hold him," he said.

    "But I'd like to think it's a lot more in the attacking hands than in the defensive hands."

    Des Hasler, a former primary school teacher, put it this way: "If you take the –um off momentum, what have you got?" he asked.

    Uhh... moment, Des?

    "So I think that's what you, as a journo, that's what you've got to focus on," he instructed, "because we've got some very skilful players playing the game. There's some amazing athletes playing the game.

    "And sometimes you miss a kick, or you miss a particular player, or you miss a particular tackle.

    "So in all those games – particularly the Roosters-Cowboys one – there's some incredible moments where the players have just seized that time and turned it into points.

    "And you put a number of those moments together and it turns into a great game of footy. [But] I'm sort of over momentum."

    Which is certainly odd, because the Bulldogs have it in bucketloads at the moment.

    At least that's what Hasler's opposite this week had learned from his vantage point in the stands at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

    "They certainly started the game very strongly. They looked like they got their mojo back," Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said.

    "I wasn't surprised when Manly came back because Manly have been doing that for 20 years, really. That was a tough game.

    "And that's what the Bulldogs club has been built on for many years.

    "They know how to win tight games. They know how to win semi-finals.

    "We're looking forward to a very big challenge and probably something similar this week."

  10. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    South Sydney’s sole finals focus

    By Jack Brady
    4:12pm Mon 22nd September, 2014

    There aren't many guarantees in life.

    Sure, the sky is usually blue and grass is green. Death, taxes, et cetera.

    But if you believe the hype, Michael Maguire may have found another guarantee, with the third year-coach ensuring once again that South Sydney are focused on nothing but themselves.

    Speaking alongside the other three remaining coaches at the inaugural Coaches Call on Monday, Maguire insisted nothing has changed for his team as they shape up to face reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters on Friday, despite being rewarded a week off for their bruising 40-24 win over the Sea Eagles.

    "For us it is very much about focusing on the stuff we have been doing. Nothing's changed," Maguire told the media.

    "This week now really gives us the opportunity to prepare and look forward to what's in front us. We're well-aware about the challenge ahead and we're playing against a very, very good team."

    It has been 43 long years since the Rabbitohs featured in a grand final, let alone won one, a time even before the head coach was born.

    The expectation of the famed ‘Burrow’ is huge, almost palpable, especially considering Souths’ past two preliminary final defeats.

    Expectation for Maguire though is background noise and he is quick to put it back on the three teams still alive in the competition.

    If all else fails, history is in the past.

    "I think every team feels expectation when you're playing in this arena, so it's no different to the other four [teams]," Maguire said.

    "Every team has some sort of history in it. But the history is done.

    "We're in the present now of doing the things that we can control and we've been training well.

    "For us, our expectation is to work really hard for each other and play to the potential we can."

    While the expectation of the Rabbitohs' fans will be hardly mentioned in discussions with his team, experience will certainly be a selling point.

    South Sydney have reached this point of the year in consecutive seasons and twice they have failed.

    Maguire and the rest of the Rabbitohs community are hoping third time's a charm with a grand final against either the Bulldogs or Penrith the dream.

    "You learn lessons. Experience is a big part of going through that period of the year," Maguire said.

    "The senior boys have definitely grown in the way that they've gone about how we train and how we prepare.

    "I've got a young, very enthusiastic squad with some great senior players leading the way. It's a very tight group at the moment.

    "We're all aware that we need to play at our best."


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    Lessons learnt from semi-final: Robinson

    By Jack Brady
    5:11pm Mon 22nd September, 2014

    Sydney Roosters’ premiership defence has been described as shaky, with many concerned the wheels are about to fall off their title defence. But is there really cause for concern?

    While the club finished up as minor premiers for the second consecutive year, a one-point loss to the Panthers in week one of the finals saw them have to back up in incredible circumstances against North Queensland.

    Despite the Roosters giving up 30 points in last Friday's thrilling win, astute Roosters mentor Trent Robinson insisted they'll be looking to take the advantages from the semi-final after progressing to a final-four showdown with rivals the Rabbitohs.

    The lessons learnt against the Thurston-inspired Cowboys will be pivotal according to Robinson, with the second-year coach ultimately noting South Sydney can make of their second half lapse in defence however they wish.

    "As long as we hold onto the stuff that got us into good positions and fix up some stuff that we need to, then it is growth throughout the finals series which we need," Robinson said.

    "Obviously there's a bit of work to be done this week but as long as we get that done, we'll be in a better position again on Friday night."

    Winning is the goal that clearly matters to Robinson – it is just a matter of improving.

    There isn't the two competition points to worry about. No for-and-against to stress over any more.

    Conceding 30 points at the pointy end of the year is undoubtedly frowned upon but a win is a win and the Roosters need just two more to be the first side to taste back-to-back premierships since the Broncos achieved the feat in 1993.

    "We don't like conceding that many points.

    "There have been games where we've lost where we haven't conceded many as well but the ultimate goal... is to win," Robinson said.

    "The method that we did it on the weekend pleased me a lot and didn't please me at all in different periods in that game.

    "Where [North Queensland] scored those 30 points, we know we need to fix some stuff up otherwise Souths will get the jump on us there."

    Such is the way of finals football, emotion undoubtedly has already come into play throughout the finals series.

    While they have had to take a different route to the finals and the potential of flat performances growing, Robinson is comfortable in knowing his troops have recovered well over the weekend.

    "It was good to... get a couple of day's recovery and start up on Souths on [Monday] morning," Robinson said.

    "They're all in a good frame of mind and they will be all ready to go on the weekend."

    Those wheels aren't ready to fall off just yet.


  11. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    JWH, Moa ready to bring down the Burgess boys

    By Dan Walsh
    2:05pm Tue 23rd September, 2014

    There's not too many folk who'd fancy running into Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Moa in a dark alley.

    A damn sight fewer who'd relish doing so on a football field.

    Thick as thieves and meaner than Mike Tyson coming off a hunger strike, the two Roosters big men received a standing ovation when they walked off Allianz turf after a commanding opening 30 minutes against North Queensland last Friday night.

    And rightly so.

    The biggest duo out of New Zealand since Flight of the Conchords, the pair had just spent the last half an hour redefining the term 'smash hit' against Kangaroos front-rowers Matt Scott and James Tamou, as well as the in-form Ashton 'Thor' Sims.

    Having racked up a combined 164 metres and 27 tackles between them, Waerea-Hargreaves and Moa had laid the type of platform you could run a presidential – hell even a premiership campaign – from.

    Now just 80 minutes from another grand final appearance, the two men charged with propping up the Roosters' title assault know it'll take more than half an hour of brutal brilliance to get past the Rabbits and their 356 kilos of Burgess muscle.

    It's a challenge Waerea-Hargreaves says is made all the easier when he watches his front-row partner charge headlong into the defence like a bull at an unguarded buffet.

    "When you see your partner in crime running as hard as he can, you don't want to stick to your structure or anything like that, you want to grab the ball and go straight after him," Waerea-Hargreaves tells NRL.com.

    "It's awesome to get someone running the ball as hard as he can and getting a quick play the ball you just want to go.

    "You want to do it because he's just done it for you and that's what it's all about.

    "For Sammy and I it was do-or-die, and credit to the Cowboys they fought hard and it was great."

    It was a different story back in May when Waerea-Hargreaves was dropped from the Kiwi side for the Trans-Tasman Test.

    The perception in the papers was despite his 108kg frame, he managed to somehow go missing in the big games.

    Waerea-Hargreaves knows this perception is out there. And no prizes for guessing how many four-letter words he gives about it.

    "I don't really read into it to be honest with you," Waerea-Hargreaves says.

    "I just worry about doing my job to the best of my ability. But this is man or mouse stuff.

    "This is where you're playing those physical games, and you have to give it your all or your season's over.

    "Souths are bloody good. They're big and they play that power style of footy, but we've just got to worry about us and what we do.

    "They're going to be extremely difficult... but these are the challenges you look forward to."

    While Waerea-Hargreaves may love the rough stuff like 50 Cent loves rhymes involving fat kids and cake, Moa is a tad more refined in his approach.

    Only a tad mind you, as his shot on Sims in the second minute last week, followed up by another bell-ringer on Scott in the 78th, testifies.

    But watch the man built like a Mack truck when he goes to the line, and once every so often he'll slip an absolute pearler of a ball. More often than not to Sonny Bill Williams trailing on the inside in support.

    Like he did to open the second half against the Rabbits back in Round 26. And again midway through the first stanza last week.

    "I'm aware that for all the battering that I do, I try and conserve the body a bit and try and add a pass here and there because otherwise I'll just be getting smashed every run," Moa says.

    "It's something that I've worked on, and Sonny's always a really good support runner and when he knows it's on he'll give me a word and I try and pull it off."

    Since Round 22's clash with the Titans, it's a role Moa had been playing from off the bench.

    Young bucks Dylan Napa and then Kane Evans were preferred to start alongside Waerea-Hargreaves for their aggression, with 28-year-old Moa maintaining the rage from around the 20-minute mark.

    It's hard to see that continuing against the Rabbitohs' all-star forward contingent given the old-fashioned blitzkrieg he and Waerea-Hargreaves launched from the kick-off last Friday.

    Particularly after the Bunnies themselves were so dominant up the middle early against Manly a week earlier.

    "I prefer to start," Moa admits.

    "But we've got such a good side that you're happy to be in the 17 and contribute and to do whatever you can to help the side.

    "As much as I want to start if it suits the team with me coming off the bench then so be it."


  12. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Greg Inglis says Souths are conscious of not letting history get to them in finals

    • AAP
    • SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 2:32PM

    SUPERSTAR fullback Greg Inglis says the mood in the South Sydney camp is relaxed ahead of Friday night’s blockbuster NRL grand final qualifier against the Sydney Roosters.

    The Rabbitohs are laughing and smiling as they try to finally snare a premiership in their third consecutive finals series.

    Inglis said he didn’t sense any anxiety at Redfern despite the Rabbitohs suffering painful defeats in their past two preliminary finals.

    “It’s hard to describe. It’s just nice and refreshing,” he said.

    “I think we were probably over-thinking about it too much (last year).

    “This year, it’s got that feeling about everyone just sitting back and having fun.”

    Skipper John Sutton agreed that the heartbreaking defeats to Canterbury and Manly the past two seasons weren’t haunting the side.

    “We trained through the week and had the weekend off,” captain John Sutton said.

    “I can say it’s been very enjoyable the last two weeks. Everyone’s enjoying it, everyone’s excited.”

  13. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Official Team Lists Finals Week 3


    5:00pm Tue 23rd September, 2014



    1. Greg Inglis
    2. Alex Johnston
    3. Dylan Walker
    4. Kirisome Auva'a
    5. Lote Tuqiri
    6. Luke Keary
    7. Adam Reynolds
    8. George Burgess
    9. Issac Luke
    10. Dave Tyrrell
    11. Kyle Turner
    12. John Sutton (c)
    13. Sam Burgess

    14. Jason Clark
    15. Ben Te'o
    16. Chris McQueen
    17. Thomas Burgess
    18. Ben Lowe
    19. Luke Burgess
    20. Bryson Goodwin

    Coach: Michael Maguire


    1. Anthony Minichiello (c)
    2. Daniel Tupou
    3. Michael Jennings
    4. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
    5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
    6. James Maloney
    7. Mitchell Pearce (vc)
    8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (vc)
    9. Jake Friend (vc)
    10. Sam Moa
    11. Boyd Cordner (vc)
    12. Sonny Bill Williams
    13. Aidan Guerra

    14. Mitchell Aubusson
    15. Frank-Paul Nuuausala
    16. Isaac Liu
    17. Dylan Napa
    18. Remi Casty

    Coach: Trent Robinson



    1. Matt Moylan
    2. Josh Mansour
    3. Dean Whare
    4. Jamal Idris
    5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
    6. Will Smith
    7. Jamie Soward
    8. Sam McKendry
    9. James Segeyaro
    10. Brent Kite
    11. Sika Manu
    12. Matt Robinson
    13. Nigel Plum

    14. Adam Docker
    15. Jeremy Latimore
    16. Ben Murdoch-Masila
    17. Lewis Brown
    18. Kevin Naiqama
    19. Sam Anderson

    Coach: Ivan Cleary


    1. Sam Perrett
    2. Corey Thompson
    3. Josh Morris
    4. Tim Lafai
    5. Mitch Brown
    6. Josh Reynolds
    7. Trent Hodkinson
    8. Aiden Tolman
    9. Michael Ennis (c)
    10. James Graham
    11. Josh Jackson
    12. Tony Williams
    13. Greg Eastwood

    14. Reni Maitua
    15. Dale Finucane
    16. David Klemmer
    17. Frank Pritchard
    19. Moses Mbye
    20. Harlan Alaalatoa

    Coach: Des Hasler


  14. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Rabbitohs v Roosters preview

    By Tony Webeck
    4:46pm Tue 23rd September, 2014

    There will be nerves on both sides of Anzac Parade this week as any self-respecting Rabbitoh or Rooster will tell you that the only thing worse than bowing out of the premiership race is having it stolen from you by the despised rivals next door.

    A finals clash almost 80 years in the making, the Rabbitohs get a third opportunity in three years to prove that 43 years of premiership heartache no longer weighs heavily while the Roosters would love nothing more than once again asserting their superiority to keep alive their quest for consecutive premierships.

    Throughout the game's 106-year history in Australia no premiership teams have met on more occasions than these old foes and while the Rabbitohs maintain an edge in head-to-head combat, the Roosters' six grand final appearances – and two premierships – since the turn of the century are the envy of anyone who bleeds red and green.

    Under Michael Maguire South Sydney look like a premiership team, play like a premiership team and make betting agencies believe they are a premiership team; all they need now is the premiership.

    A week off after their win over Manly will have given the ear drums of the Rabbitohs' players a chance to recover after the monumental spray delivered by Maguire in the wake of their second-half switch-off against the Sea Eagles and allowed superstars such as Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess some much-needed rest and recuperation.

    The Roosters were super impressive in racking up 30 points in the first 31 minutes against the Cowboys in last week's Semi-Final but like the Rabbitohs a week earlier, handed in their timesheet before their shift had finished and escaped only by the fortuitous bounce of the Steeden off Rob Lui's forearm.

    It was the second consecutive one-point finals game for the Roosters after their Week One defeat at the hands of the Panthers but one point is all the margin they need to keep their season alive into Grand Final Week.

    For South Sydney, their Grand Final has come a week early because not only will it break a mental stranglehold the Roosters have enjoyed in denying them consecutive minor premierships the past two season it will repel the demons of last year's Preliminary Final loss to Manly and complete Maguire's dramatic transformation.

    Ben Te'o has been named to return from his four-week suspension on the South Sydney bench at the expense of Luke Burgess while Dylan Napa also earns his recall on the five-man Roosters bench after a two-week suspension for a shoulder charge.

    It's the Godfather v the Gladiator, working class against the latte set, Sam v SBW, GI v Mini. Without a trophy to be won at the end of 80 minutes, it's the most anticipated meeting of premiership teams in more than a century of rugby league in Australia.

    It's the Rabbitohs v Roosters and a place in the Grand Final awaits; it doesn't get any bigger than this.

    Watch Out Rabbitohs:

    In many ways it would appear that James Maloney has embodied the manner of the Sydney Roosters' season as a whole; he hasn't been bad, he just hasn't seemed to have had the influence he did on last year's premiership season.

    But while his halves partner in Mitchell Pearce has been the recipient of many of the plaudits over the past month, Maloney showed last week against the Cowboys that he is the man for the big occasion.

    After Pearce scored his runaway try in the third minute Maloney put on a sublime cut-out pass for Daniel Tupou's first try, hit the upright with a grubber kick for Michael Jennings to touch down, sparked the left-side raid that led to Tupou's second and then pushed through Michael Morgan and Gavin Cooper close to the line to score himself.

    And then, 45 minutes later with the scores locked at 30 apiece, it was Maloney who calmly slotted the match-winning one-pointer.

    He's the Rooster whose feathers won't be ruffled and he presents a massive danger to the South Sydney defence, particularly on the left edge.

    Watch Out Roosters:

    This time next week he could very well be the 2014 Dally M Rookie of the Year and there has been absolutely nothing to suggest to this point that Alex Johnston will be overawed by the greatest occasion in his young footballing life to date.

    His two tries against Manly in the Qualifying Final a fortnight ago took his tally to 19 from just 16 games, his four line breaks the most he has recorded in a single game this season.

    With ball in hand it will be a mouth-watering match-up against Roger Tuivasa-Sheck while when the Roosters are on the attack Johnston's job will be to prevent the most capped Rooster of all time, Anthony Minichiello, from adding to his illustrious list of achievements.

    Done all that has been asked of him thus far.

    Plays To Watch:

    The devastating nature of the Roosters' attack at full flight stems largely from the direct style of play employed by their two halves, Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney.

    Pearce straightens the attack with a sharp right-foot step while Maloney has a knack of pushing up through a defensive line when there didn't appear to be space to run into.

    When these two run straight on the edges, it gives the ideal shape for their outside runners to hit holes or to find the quick men in support up the middle.

    The South Sydney attack gathers its momentum from the work in the middle but with a couple of weeks on the training paddock, look for a couple of trick shots on the left edge involving Luke Keary, Greg Inglis, Chris McQueen and Alex Johnston.

    Where It Will Be Won:

    The Rabbitohs will be entering dangerous territory if they think they have the firepower to overcome another slow start against a Roosters outfit that love to be front-runners.

    Across the season the Bunnies have been beaten to the punch in the opening 20 minutes where they have conceded 58 points and scored just 42.

    Only the Warriors with a differential of +58 are faster starters than the Roosters (+56) and they completely stunned the Cowboys with their onslaught in the opening half hour last week.

    The Roosters have led after 20 minutes on an NRL-high 18 occasions this season and won 14 of those games while the Rabbitohs have won just half the games where they have trailed after the opening quarter.

    The Rabbitohs' points differential for the final quarter of games of +73 is by far and away the best in the NRL; they just better make sure they haven't given themselves a mountain too high to climb.


    Played 209; Rabbitohs 108; Roosters 96; drawn 5.

    It was May 16, 1908 when these two clubs met for the first time, the Roosters overcoming a 6-5 half-time deficit to record a 13-12 victory with Horrie Miller the hero for the Bondi boys with his two tries.

    In the 208 meetings that have followed little has separated Australian rugby league's oldest rivals but incredibly, they have not played each other in a finals match since the 1935 Final when the Roosters were victorious to the tune of 19-3.

    Over the past four seasons each team has claimed a win apiece in their two meetings during the course of the season but the Roosters have won both Round 26 encounters the past two seasons with the minor premiership up for grabs.

    What Are The Odds:

    Sportsbet has received 30 per cent more money on South Sydney in comparison to the Roosters, and the Bunnies remain warm favourites to break their Preliminary Final hoodoo.

    There’s 10 times the money on Souths at the line, where they’re giving away 2.5 points.

    Alex Johnston has been very well backed to be first tryscorer. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.

    Match Officials:

    Referee – Gerard Sutton;
    Assistant Referee – Ben Cummins;
    Touch Judges – Steve Carrall and Brett Suttor;
    Video Referees – Ashley Klein and Luke Patten;


    Channel Nine – Live 7.30pm.

    How We See It:

    It may sound dramatic but how Michael Maguire's reign as South Sydney coach is remembered may very well be determined by the result of this game.

    To fall short of a Grand Final again would leave long-lasting scars in players and fans alike but to conquer the Roosters for a shot at the crown may see him elected as the new Mayor of Redfern.

    Despite the manner of their escape last week the Roosters will be happy with the way they started against the Cowboys and seem to have rediscovered their premiership swagger.

    It's not quite a Grand Final blockbuster but it's the next best thing.

    Rabbitohs by four points


    - - - Updated - - -

    Panthers v Bulldogs preview

    By Chris Kennedy, National Correspondent
    5:27pm Tue 23rd September, 2014

    Even just a fortnight ago, the chances of the Panthers playing the Bulldogs for a spot in the 2014 decider seemed fairly remote – but a lot can happen in two weeks.

    The seventh-placed Bulldogs disposing of the two most successful clubs of the past decade in consecutive games, for example.

    Or 2014's Cinderella story in the Panthers, who continue to defy the odds, defy the doubters, defy reputations and injuries and whatever else you can name, and just keep winning games – including that super-impressive Qualifying Final win over the best team of 2013 and this year's minor premiers to earn themselves a week off.

    That week off is crucial too, especially given the side's recent run with injury. Not too many players looked more like they needed a week off after the first week of finals than hard-hitting Panther Nigel Plum.

    But he's not the only one nursing a few bumps and bruises, and history shows that week off to be favourable; you have to go back to the 2006 Broncos to find an NRL premiership-winning side that played all four weeks of the finals.

    That's now seven straight years the title has gone to a team that earned the week off and with the nature of the wrestle and physicality of the modern game it looks like a bigger leg-up than ever.

    The Bulldogs won't be too worried though – they finally have some momentum back after coming into the finals with just two wins from eight games.

    They were far too strong for the Storm a fortnight ago in Melbourne and it looked like they were on track to hand a similar hiding to Manly before a maroon-and-white hit-back forced the game to golden point.

    Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is one person who will be more than happy that game went for longer than 80 minutes but Bulldogs clipboard-holder Des Hasler will just be happy that his side won, regardless of whether it took 80 minutes or 85.

    They will be relieved that key pair Josh Jackson (arm pressure on Josh Starling) and Michael Ennis (high tackle on Daly Cherry-Evans) were cleared by the match review committee and have named an unchanged 17, with Moses Mbye and Harlan Alaalatoa again on the extended bench.

    Penrith's week off not only gave them an extra week's rest but also a week with no danger of incurring additional injuries or suspensions.

    They welcome back hard-hitting back-rower Adam Docker from a two-game suspension, pushing Sam Anderson to an extended bench that also features Kevin Naiqama.

    Watch Out Panthers:

    Last week, Trent Hodkinson reminded us how to win clutch games (a feat he was making a habit of earlier in the year) and Sam Perrett produced one of his best efforts in the No.1 jersey, but there's no doubting Canterbury's impressive last fortnight is all down to their forward power.

    James Graham was the man against the Storm and he was at it again last week – but if anything was almost shaded by fellow big boppers Aiden Tolman and Tony Williams.

    'T-Rex' was back to his destructive best, with several ferocious charges helping to lay the platform for the Dogs' early dominance and seemingly bending the line at will – as befits an athlete of his size and power.

    He's been accused of not taking full advantage of those attributes at times but they were brought to bear against his old club as he racked up 178 metres from 16 quality hit-ups with eight tackle breaks and two offloads (although with 10 missed tackles his defence remains a concern).

    Tolman produced even bigger numbers, with a match-high 222 metres and 43 tackles, while Graham pumped out another 164 metres and 34 tackles while also doing all the little things in between.

    With the likes of Josh Jackson, Dale Finucane and Greg Eastwood all in good form and Frank Pritchard getting better with each run back from injury it's becoming a very imposing pack.

    Watch Out Bulldogs:

    The Panthers have been the close- range specialists of the competition in recent weeks. In fact, for the 20 tries they've scored since Round 20 for which there was a previous play-the-ball (so, not including seven other tries from tap restarts, kick-offs, turnovers or intercepts) just one from 20 was scored from a play-the-ball beyond their opponent's 30 metre line.

    In fact, just four came from a play-the-ball outside their opponent's 10 metre line.

    Further, 17 of those 20 play-the-balls came in the middle third of the field, with one on the left and two on the right.

    What all this suggests in that Penrith's success comes from a big charge up the middle, followed by either a quick dart out of dummy-half by James Segeyaro (four tries in those eight games) or, more often, a quick spread to the likes of Jamie Soward or Matt Moylan for a big cut-out or grubber behind the line to get their outside backs involved.

    Plays To Watch:

    Expect plenty of scoots from dummy-half and general high involvement from busy backs Josh Mansour and Sam Perrett.

    Perrett's 65 runs from dummy-half is more than any non-hooker this year aside from Justin Hodges and Brett Morris, while Mansour's 372 total runs is third among non-forwards.

    When coupled with an NRL-high 149 tackle breaks (not too far off one tackle break for every two runs) his high-octane carries are a huge part of Penrith's territorial game. Perrett's 87 breaks from 341 runs are nothing to sneeze at, making him 15th in total busts.

    Throw in his 98 kick defusals (2nd, after Anthony Minichiello's 113) and these two busy, nuggety ball runners become absolutely key components in the early parts of their side's sets.

    Where It Will Be Won:

    Winning the moment.

    Like Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said (sort of, we think) during the week, it could come down to which players seize those big moments in games.

    Last week it was ice-cold work from Trent Hodkinson – and the week before Jamie Soward – that earned their sides amazing one-point wins.

    Hodkinson's two perfect field goals take him to four for the year (equal most) while Soward's clutch sideline conversion and follow up field goal show that young gun Matt Moylan isn't the only Panther capable of owning those big, high-pressure moments. Bulldogs fans won't have forgotten it was one such effort from Moylan back in Round 3 that beat the Dogs after the bell with a sideline conversion.

    Given both of last week's semi-finals, and Penrith's most recent game a week earlier, were decided by a single point – winning that big moment could well decide which of these sides goes on to the big one.


    Played 85; Panthers 34, Bulldogs 48; drawn 3.

    The Panthers have actually had the wood over the Dogs for a while now – aside from winning both previous encounters this year, Penrith have won five of the past seven and 11 of the past 14 against the blue and whites.

    We're not sure we're buying the angle that this turns the Bulldogs into underdogs though.

    What Are The Odds:

    Punters believe Sportsbet got it wrong by installing the Bulldogs favourites in this match – there’s been three times the money bet on the Panthers in the head to head market, and nearly all of the cash has gone on Penrith at the line of +2.5. Panthers 1-12 is by far the most popular winning margin.

    Latest odds atSportsbet.com.au.

    Match Officials:

    Referees – Shayne Hayne & Gavin Badger;
    Touch Judges – Jason Walsh & Grant Atkins;
    Video Referees – Bernard Sutton & Luke Phillips;


    Channel Nine – Live, 7.30pm.

    The Way We See It:

    This one really is on a knife's edge. The Bulldogs have momentum.

    The Panthers played 85 minutes less football last weekend and their bodies will be thankful for it.

    Those two factors may well cancel each other out. It really could come down to a single pass, penalty, missed tackle, knock-on or field goal.

    The Dogs' forward pack is looking imposing but the likes of Nigel Plum, Adam Docker, Sam McKendry, Brent Kite and co. won't be intimidated.

    If it does come down to a sideline conversion or clutch field goal each team is well equipped with their own clutch performers who can get them over the line.

    We'll take the Panthers in another one-point thriller.


  15. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Bulldogs forward David Klemmer is earmarked as a future representative player

    • SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 12:00AM

    PAUL Langmack reckons Canterbury prop David Klemmer has a “bit of crazy about him.”

    And that is exactly why Klemmer is made for representative football.Klemmer, 20, is a prop with intimidation and aggression.

    There is some madness about Klemmer — a player opposition forwards would want to avoid on the field.Klemmer is a future rep player, no doubt.

    And it may even be this year.

    The Bulldogs prop would be the ideal choice to blood in either the Australian Four Nations squad or Laurie Daley’s Prime Minister’s XIII side to play Papua New Guinea in Kokopa after the season.

    “Klemmer has a bit of crazy about him,” said Langmack, a former Canterbury champion forward.

    “And that’s good.
    “He has a real crack and isn’t scared. He has skills with the ball and a good offload.

    “Klemmer is also big and is a Cabramatta boy, like me. That means he is tough. He is a footballer with aggression. He has plenty of potential.”

    No doubt Klemmer will play a pivotal role for Canterbury in Saturday night’s preliminary final against Penrith at ANZ Stadium.

    He will take-on the Panthers pack headfirst — it will be a fierce contest.

    “He is a great prospect,” said ex-Bulldogs hardman David ‘Cement’ Gillespie.

    “David really rips in and is tough and hard.
    “In many ways, he is an old-school prop. He won’t take a backward step.

    “He can be nice and aggressive and I am sure he will play representative football, sooner rather than later.

    “It wouldn’t surprise me if he is a bolter in Australian Four Nations squad, or at even picked for the PM XIII to tour Papua New Guinea.

    “He will develop into a great front-rower.”

    Klemmer is one of several youngsters poised to be named in Tim Sheens’ Four Nations squad with several senior players unavailable through injury.


    - - - Updated - - -

    Greg Inglis fresh and energised for clash with Roosters after escaping Sydney chaos

    • SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 12:00AM

    HE is fresh, fit, energised — and ready.

    Big Greg Inglis has returned from a week off feeling reinvigorated and pumped for Friday night’s massive preliminary final against Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium.

    “I escaped from the chaos,” he said.

    A refreshed Inglis can only provide the Roosters with some horrible thoughts.

    “I feel more relaxed and fresh,” Inglis conceded. “The week off has been a blessing in disguise.

    “Everyone is carrying injuries and looking after them so the week off has been good.

    “We had the weekend off so I sat back and watched the footy. I ducked up to Newcastle to see some friends.

    “It was escaping the chaos to be honest. I really enjoyed the week.

    “It has been mentally refreshing to sit back and really look after your body. The week off came at the right time.”

    The break has been an immense boost for weary Souths players, aware the Roosters game will be physical and fierce.

    “We have been lucky through the year to get our byes when we did, especially around Origin time,” he said.

    “Come finals time it has paid off again. The boys worked extremely hard to get that weekend off.”

    Souths halfback Adam Reynolds also thrived on a free weekend.

    “It was a good chance to get the body right and freshen up for what’s going to be a tough week,” Reynolds said.

    “We tried to keep it normal as possible, like any other game week.”

    These two eastern Sydney rivals will tear in like never before.

    Great rosters, power, speed and skill — this semi-final has it all. Hopefully more than 60,000 fans will attend.

    “You can’t make any excuses in this game or the industry,” Inglis said.

    “All the players know that, all the teams know that.

    “It will be about going through the processes, enjoying each other’s company and really sitting back and enjoying the week.

    “It’s going to be a cracker of game and I’d love to see fifty-odd thousand Souths supporters at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.”

    Inglis claims his side are “ignoring the outside world” leading into the big match.

    Souths will play under enormous pressure, aware of the heartbreaking prospect of losing three preliminary finals in three years.

    “We have to block out (the hype) and concentrate on the team and what we can control,” he said.

    Inglis finds himself in a great head space at the moment.

    He is loving Sydney and has a happy family with wife Sally and newborn baby, Nate.

    “This has been a terrific year for me,” Inglis said. “Life away from footy really helps.

    “I am really enjoying fatherhood and enjoying time at home. Coming to training, spending time with the boys, I am enjoying it.”


    - - - Updated - - -

    Rabbitohs pivot Adam Reynolds won’t be ruffled for finals showdown with Sydney Roosters

    • SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 12:00AM

    HE will play under the excruciating pressure of a 43-year premiership drought.

    Yet South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds remains calm and cool, declaring Tuesday: “I don’t feel the pressure.”

    Reynolds knows the expectations on his side are immense and, as halfback, will carry the burden.

    Souths have fallen one game short of a grand final for the past two years and play the Sydney Roosters in another preliminary final this Friday night at ANZ Stadium.

    Reynolds is the key, no doubt. He refuses to be ruffled though and was controlled and collected when he fronted the Sydney media Tuesday morning at Redfern Oval.

    “I don’t feel the pressure,” Reynolds said.

    “I just have to turn up and do my job for the team.

    “I’m not going to do anything out of the ordinary and try and overplay my hand.

    “Halves always get criticised, I’ve had my fair share but I’m not too fussed about it.

    I just worry about what my teammates think and what my coach thinks.

    “I don’t listen to the outside world. I just like to stay focused within the team.

    “You always judge yourself. You’re the toughest judge, you’re always trying to get better and look at ways where you can improve.”

    Reminded his team had fallen short for the past two years, Reynolds said: “They are experiences mate, that’s in the past now.

    “That’s behind us. We have a new team, a lot of younger boys have really stepped up. It’s a new year.

    “All we can control is this week. We have a tough ask against the Roosters.

    As a team we have to turn up and play our part. We are looking forward to the challenge.”

    Reynolds struggled in last year’s final and broke down injured in the 2012 grand final qualifier.

    The Daily Telegraph this week reported that Roosters forward Aidan Guerra would target Reynolds.

    He isn’t concerned.

    “Halves get targeted every week, mate, It’s no different to any other week I suppose.

    “My mentality isn’t going to change. I’ve got to do my job for the team, it’s all about the team this week.”

    Souths haven’t won a title since Clive Churchill’s side back in 1971, The wait has been long and painful.

    “We are proud of the history of this club and proud of all the past players,” Reynolds said.

    “But we can’t control what’s gone on.
    “It’s all up to us and what happens Friday night.”

    Souths champion John Sutton also spoke of Reynolds’ calmness.

    “Adam doesn’t let anything get to his head,” Sutton said. “He’s up for this one.”

    The halfback battle between Reynolds and Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce should be absorbing.Both are in super form at the back-end of the season.

    “He (Pearce) has been unreal, along with (James) Maloney. They have really found their form at the right time,” Reynolds said.


    - - - Updated - - -

    The Bulldogs can put a lot of their success down the James Graham and his amazing surge of form

    • SEPTEMBER 24, 2014 12:00AM

    THE ferocity of James Graham came in the moments after Mick Ennis dropped the ball and Cheyse Blair dived on to score.

    Manly’s James Hasson patted Ennis on the head, for which most of the world celebrated apparently, and players rushed in from both sides.

    Some were there to support Hasson, others to protect Ennis, some simply didn’t like being left out.

    Among all the square dancing Reni Maitua threw a punch and got sin-binned.

    Where Graham was during all of this of no concern.Ennis walked away thinking he had nine minutes to get it right.

    It was a terrible mistake,
    Maitua cooled down in the dressing room.

    The Sea Eagles thought they had assumed the precious swing of momentum that has dictated this entire finals series, and they went back to their marks knowing they were coming.

    Then Graham took it away.From the restart the ball was sent high and deep and, wouldn’t you know it, into the hands of Hasson.

    It was like the Bulldogs had picked him specifically.

    It was like Hasson didn’t know that Ennis shares the car ride every day with Graham to training, and they have grown pretty fond of each other.

    So Graham found Hasson, and dropped him where he met him.

    Suddenly, Manly knew the game was not over yet.

    James Graham has a special kind of toughness,
    He doesn’t try to convince his opposition how tough he is.

    It’s just a natural byproduct of trying to pushing himself into areas few have the gravel in their guts to go to.

    Look at what he did against Sam Burgess four weeks ago.

    They are tremendous friends, Both know there will come a day sometimes in the future when they will sit and have a beer together and, over that beer, they will look at each other and share that look.

    It’s the look of shared respect, and an unspoken acknowledgment of know who got the better of who.

    Burgess got the points on account of getting Souths home that night.

    But Graham busted him, smashing him repeatedly in defence.

    Graham proves his toughness a thousand different ways every game, He gives like no-one else does.

    When Melbourne’s Mahe Fonua took a loose ball and streaked downfield in the opening semi-final Graham chased after him, somewhat hopefully it seemed.

    He had every right to be discouraged, even quit on the run.

    The week before Gold Coast winger Anthony Don streaked away and Graham chased him even though he never had the leg speed to catch him.

    At the time, the moment was noteworthy only because of the stunned look Don gave Graham when he dived to score and he looked to see his pursuer and thought ‘a front-rower chased me all that way?’Graham had nothing pushing him except his own desire.

    So when Fonua picked up the loose ball the following week Graham had every right to quit on the run, because he didn’t have the leg speed to catch him and because so many other players do that everybody would have found it acceptable.

    But he didn’t quit,
    He chased and then Josh Reynolds dived, and Reynolds could get no more than a hand to him but it was enough to ankle tap Fonua and bring him down.

    Graham was the only other man around.

    If he hadn’t chased Fonua would have climbed to his feet and scrambled the last few metres to the tryline.

    Instead Graham stopped him, It has been there all year. He stopped Parramatta’s Manu Ma’u in round 14.

    But the greatness of Graham, who might just be the best player left in this finals series, is the variation in his game.

    He can kill you with subtlety as much as brutality.

    So much the Bulldogs have almost deferred to his brilliant ball playing, running men around him that allows Graham to become the primary playmaker.

    He has an aggressive run that comes with a sidestep, so he rarely gets taken in a big shot himself.

    His aggression with the ball establishes him as a running threat.

    That done, he then goes to the line with a support player inside him, another outside, and a third deep.

    His brilliance is he picks the correct support player to hit more often than anybody in the game today.

    He put Trent Hodkinson over against the Storm two weeks ago, finding him behind the decoy runner.

    He put Sam Perrett over with an inside ball last weekend, after hearing Jason King called off-side.

    He can beat you with defence or attack. With aggression or subtlety.He is mobile, agile and hostile.


    I’M one of those critics everybody keeps mentioning, but never naming, who keep writing off Penrith.

    My lack of faith in the Panthers has nothing to do with the talent they send out each weekend or their coaching or lack of big-name stars.

    It is their health.

    Talent is so even across the teams that my one firm rule when picking winners is to choose the healthiest squad.

    For weeks now Penrith have been without Peter Wallace, Elijah Taylor, Bryce Cartwright, Adam Docker, Kevin Kingston, Isaac Johns, Tyrone Peachey and George Jennings, while Brent Kite has also suffered through injury.

    Yet the Panthers keep winnin,. Keep defying.

    So with all that said, and many of those players still out, I’m happy to tip against the Panthers again this weekend.

    But I’m just as happy for them to keep proving me wrong.

  16. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Bulldogs winger Corey Thompson chases NRL grand final dream against Penrith Panthers

    • SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 12:00AM

    HE’S the pint-sized winger on the NRL’s minimum wage who is charging towards a dream grand final berth.

    Canterbury Bulldogs flyer Corey Thompson should be running out on Sunday in the Queensland Cup grand final for Brisbane Easts, in front of just under 10,000 people.

    Instead, the former airport baggage handler, who was overlooked by Melbourne and Canberra before landing a train-and-trial shot at Canterbury, will run out to a crowd of over 50,000 in a NRL preliminary final clash with Penrith at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

    Signed by the Dogs on the minimum wage contract of $65,000 plus $3000 for every NRL appearance, the diminutive Thompson has fast become a cult figure to Canterbury fans thanks to his small stature, fearless attitude and ability to squeeze through the clutches of his opposition.

    In an era where size matters when it comes to judging NRL wingers, the Bulldogs 179cm jack rabbit has somehow managed to stand tall amid the likes of much larger rival wingmen including Parramatta’s Semi Radradra, the Sydney Roosters Daniel Tupou and South Sydney’s Lote Tuqiri.

    Thompson was playing for Melbourne Storm feeder club Brisbane Easts in 2012 when he was invited to train under Craig Bellamy for six weeks.

    The hope of a full-time contract never eventuated, largely due to Melbourne’s limited second-tier salary cap space.

    Thompson, who has scored 10 tries in 23 matches this season for the Dogs, also played in the Queensland Cup with Souths Logan, Canberra’s feeder-club.

    But where the Storm and Raiders failed to act, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler decided to take a punt on Thompson by bringing him down to Sydney.

    With Hasler short of outside backs following the departure of Ben Barba to Brisbane, Thompson, 24, made his NRL debut in front of friends and family in round one against the Broncos.

    Memories of 10 months earlier, when he would train each day in the hope of achieving his NRL dream and work as a baggage handler at Brisbane airport, only spurred Thompson harder to silence the many knockers, who felt that he would never make it to the big time.

    “That’s why people have really warmed to him because he has performed at that (NRL) level and out performed really anything anyone would’ve expected him to,’’ Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle said.

    “He is a great club man, he is fantastic around the environment and he has maximised every opportunity since he’s been with us, both in the way he has presented himself off the field and in his training ethic.

    “Then on the field he has got himself into positions to score tries that bigger players wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do.’’


    - - - Updated - - -

    Fans aren’t flocking to NRL finals blockbuster between Souths and the Roosters

    • SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 12:00AM

    RABBITOHS fans are being urged to prove the old adage that ‘rugby league is strong when South Sydney are strong’ — with fears their Friday night blockbuster against arch rivals the Roosters will attract fewer than 60,000 fans.

    Despite being the most hyped NRL game outside the grand final — and the first time these waring clubs have met in a playoff since 1938 — ticket sales are tracking for an elimination final crowd of 50,000 at ANZ Stadium.

    The worrying projection means the second biggest game of the NRL season would fall short of this year’s Homebush crowds for the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup match, the Waratahs’ Super 15 triumph, even the A-League All Stars v Juventus match.

    At a time when league’s overall health is being questioned, the Rabbitohs-Roosters match looms as an undeniable litmus test.

    While the NRL is determined to bring more games to big stadiums, there remains a host of question marks over the game’s ability to connect with fans thanks to issues such as pricing, wrestling, accessibility and the rise and rise of other digital mediums through which Generation Y can view their footy.

    Certainly a crowd of 60,000 would be considered a benchmark considering after as many fans attended the Round 26 clash between the two same two sides only last season.

    Elsewhere, the game could also serve as the farewell match for Roosters great Anthony Minichiello — with one of two rival internationals, in Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams, also assured of their final appearance before switching over to rugby union.

    Stadium officials remain confident ticket sales will swell later in the week — especially among South Sydney fans whose team is looking to win its first premiership in 43 years.

    Reigning premiers the Roosters, meanwhile, are looking to achieve what is said to be impossible in the modern game — back-to-back premierships.

    And with the Saturday evening final also involving two Sydney teams, Canterbury and Penrith, the NRL will be hoping to break the 100,000 mark across 48 hours at Homebush.

    Yet as it stands, the Friday night crowd will be well short of the 74,549 fans who attended this corresponding elimination back, between Parramatta and Canterbury, back in 2009.

    Apart from being a big test for the NRL, the weekend could also go some way to determining if Sydney should automatically be granted league’s biggest games.

    There is no doubting ANZ Stadium is the perfect venue for blockbuster matches, as evidenced by the 83,421 fans who watched NSW reclaim the State of Origin shield earlier this year.

    Earlier this week, it was revealed that the NRL’s finals crowds are up 16 per cent on last year — despite widespread criticism of attendance figures.

    Over the opening six games of the final series, there was an average crowd of 23,346 at each one.

    That figure represents a significant increase on the 20,1555 average for the corresponding fixtures in 2013.

    Despite producing two outstanding finals matches — both of which were decided by a point — the Roosters and North Queensland drew only 18,355 to Allianz Stadium while the match between Manly and Canterbury earned attendance figures of 28,186.

    Yet the combined total (46,541) was still less than the 48,029 who watched the Sydney Swans beat North Melbourne in their preliminary final at ANZ Stadium.

  17. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    From fixing plumbing inside jails, Penrith’s Adam Docker now has his sights on grand final glory

    • SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 12:00AM

    IN more ways than one, Adam Docker is a practitioner of watertight defence.

    Before he earned the reputation as Penrith’s most feared hitman, Docker installed the plumbing inside Nowra jail.

    With prisoners renowned for escaping through sewerage systems, the teenage apprentice needed to execute the job with the same secure precision as his defence.

    “We were building it from scratch — all the roughings from minimum to maximum security,” Docker recalled.

    “It was a blowout seeing how things work in a prison. We worked right up to the highest security cells.

    They were two by two metres with four beds in them. It was crazy.

    “And it’s crazy how the sewer system works. It’s got little bits of six inch piping, so the prisoners can’t escape. It really blew me out.

    “Unfortunately I got the sack before we finished the job, because they were letting people go.”

    The Shellharbour junior was contracted to St George Illawarra at the time, but was also deemed NRL redundant at the end of 2011.

    A string of injuries plagued Docker’s form in the Under 20s and made his final appearance for the Dragons in resignation that he’d be plumbing full-time the following year.

    The opponents were Penrith.

    In the tiny crowd at WIN Stadium was Chris Carl, president of the visitor’s NSW Cup feeder side, Windsor Wolves.

    Carl travelled to Wollongong purely to watch his son play for Penrith, and had never heard of Adam Docker.

    “Then midway through the match this kid came off the bench and just started belting the tripe out of everyone — including his own teammates,” Carl said.

    “I’d never seen anything like it, and I couldn’t believe it when I was told the Dragons didn’t want him. I said, ‘We’ve got to get this kid to Windsor’.’’

    With no alternative career path Docker agreed to a 12-week training contract at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

    He kept plumbing to survive, and finished the practical component of his apprenticeship.

    But an ugly street bashing at the start of 2012 threatened to end his second coming in rugby league.

    Upon waking from a coma, Docker had his jaw rebuilt.

    The doctors discussed retirement, but he proved them wrong, returning for Windsor four months later and making his NRL debut in penultimate round of 2012.

    He’s been a permeant fixture of Penrith’s team ever since and is now touted as a bolter for the Kangaroos Four Nations squad.

    “It’s all too much,” he said.

    “Reading about the Kangaroos talk in the paper and being 80 minutes away from a grand final, it’s a massive blowout.

    “We could end up winning it. It could change my life. It’s a lot and I’m looking forward to everything.”

    Still, a possible hangover from the attack lingers.

    Docker has suffered three separate concussions this season, enough to have him sent to Newcastle for special cognitive tests in July.

    According to his mother, Corrine, the 23-year-old never suffered concussion as a junior.

    She is worried the after-affects of an horrific event her son cannot recall might be to blame for this season’s sudden series of blackouts.

    “That’s what worries me the most — the concussions,” she said.

    Docker doesn’t worry so much.

    With tests clearing him to play again, the lock forward won’t compromise on the style that’s likened him to a modern-day Trevor Gillmeister.

    “It was a lot tougher back then,” he said.

    “That’s what footy is about — it’s a tough game.

    “There’s so many rules now that you can get done for. Hopefully they don’t bring in too many more rules — otherwise I’ll be screwed.”


    - - - Updated - - -

    Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis satisfied his on-field niggling tactics are not ‘crossing the line’

    • SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 12:00AM

    HURT at being labelled disrespectful, Canterbury’s inspirational skipper Michael Ennis has given a rare insight into why he employs his now notorious niggling tactics on a rugby league field.

    Speaking with The Daily Telegraph, Ennis revealed why he can be a serial pest ahead of Saturday night’s preliminary final against Penrith at ANZ Stadium.

    Ennis knows his playing style attracts headlines but Canterbury teammates claim they wouldn’t swap their hooker for any other in the NRL.

    “I just love being on the field, I love playing the game,” Ennis said.

    “I love the competitive side to it. At times it is probably a fine line I suppose.

    “It’s a tough game mate. If you compete hard, then you have to expect they will compete hard against you.

    “I enjoy the game and I just try and do what’s best for the team. It’s never nice to hear things being said that aren’t nice.

    “Being a little guy, you have to be able to compete in the middle, there are some big boys.

    They are getting stronger and stronger and I suppose I am getting older and smarter.

    “Whatever happens out there, that’s footy.”

    Ennis’ playing style attracted drama in week one of the finals when he patted the head of Storm skipper Cam Smith, who made a handling blunder.

    “My style of footy has been brought up over the last week or so over the situation in Melbourne,” Ennis said.

    “I just feel like I am playing my normal game and competing. I said at the time it wasn’t targeted at Cameron Smith.

    “It was not disrespectful, it was me being over excited. It was what it was.

    “The media coverage at the moment is at high-end.

    Both games we have played have been sudden-death and they have had plenty of scrutiny around them.

    “The situation down in Melbourne escalated and went on for over for a week. That made it look a little worse than what it was.”

    Now just 80 minutes from a grand final, Ennis is seeking a fairytale departure from Belmore before joining Cronulla next season.

    “He does cop a lot of flak but he is a competitor,” said Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman.

    “That is his competitive nature coming out, he wants to win everything. That’s what he does.”

    The Bulldogs have won two sudden-death games and enter Saturday night as favourites.Penrith though are ready to do what they do best — cause a boilover.

    “It’s a good time of year,” Ennis said.

    “A fortnight ago at the captain’s call, no-one gave us a chance and they don’t again (this Saturday night).

    “Penrith are a team that knows how to executive what Ivan (Cleary) puts in front of them. They have done that all year.

    Their completion rates are very good.

    “They are a really balanced side and underestimated.”

    Ennis said Panthers skipper Jamie Soward is “probably the form player of the comp.”

  18. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Sonny Bill Williams leaves as a great, but he’s no Sydney Roosters club legend says Brad Fittler

    • SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 12:00AM

    SONNY Bill Williams will be remembered for his legendary feats — and Anthony Minichiello will be remembered as a club legend.

    That was Roosters champion Brad Fittler’s take on the legacy the Kiwi superstar will leave behind at Bondi when SBW returns to rugby union next year.

    On the eve of Friday night’s elimination blockbuster against the Rabbitohs that could potentially be Williams and Minichiello’s last in the NRL, The Daily Telegraph asked Fittler if the cross-code superstar would go down as a Roosters legend if the reigning premiers go on to claim back to back titles.

    Fittler spoke glowingly of Williams’ tremendous contribution on and off the field.

    “He will leave the club in an unbelievably better position,” Fittler said, pointing to the culture he has helped create among the players because of his lifestyle, religion and personal sacrifice.

    Asked if two years at the club was enough to make him a club legend, Fittler explained:

    “I wouldn’t call him a club legend. You can’t compare him to Anthony Minichiello, not even close.

    “But I think it is legendary what he has done.”

    While Williams will on Friday night run out for his 45th game in Roosters’ colours, Minichiello will be breaking Luke Ricketson’s club record of 301 games in a one-club career that has stretched 15 NRL seasons.

    But in no way was Fittler downplaying Williams’ phenomenal impact, that he believes has been as significant off the field as his performances on it.

    “He can stand up in big games because of his sacrifice and mind control,” Fittler said.

    “(His lifestyle) allows him to have balance. His off-field life is complete balance.

    “(Teammates) see what he can do and they see how he can do it consistently.

    “And they have just caught on to that, They have seen it in action, how it works and the power of it.”

    A premiership winner with the Bulldogs in 2004 before he left the NRL for France, Williams returned to New Zealand rugby in 2011 and finished runner up that year with the Crusaders in the Super Rugby competition.

    From there he played a part in the All Blacks’ World Cup win and in 2012 won the Super Rugby title with the Chiefs.

    Last year he had a phenomenal NRL comeback season, winning a premiership with the Roosters and playing a major part in the grand final victory, before being crowned international player of the year and ending the season as a runner up at the Rugby League World Cup.

    But while his form has been down this year, no one doubts he won’t lift for the big end of the season games.

    Starting Friday night.Luke Ricketson identified Williams’ performance when he returned in devastating fashion against the Warriors in round 24 as the game that signalled the Roosters were back on track.

    And if he was to now leave the game with back to back premierships after two years with the Roosters, that would be enough for Ricketson to give SBW legendary status.

    “I certainly think next Sunday night, if they can go back to back and he has an impact like he did in last year’s grand final, I think certainly that gets him to legend status in the club,” said theRoosters’ current co-record holder.

    “I have no doubt he can certainly hold that mantle. Looking back, clubs remember winning premierships and they celebrate winning premierships.

    “You are remembered for those big matches and I think if they can put back to back (titles) he is certainly becomes in legend status within Roosters ranks.”

  19. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Key preliminary finals match-ups

    By Staff Writers
    7:00am Thu 25th September, 2014

    Rabbitohs v Roosters: Issac Luke v Jake Friend

    Two No. 9s with very different styles of play but both are equally integral in giving their team the ascendancy in the middle third of the field.

    Where Issac Luke is devastating with the power of his runs out of dummy-half, Friend's great craft lies in getting his big men over the advantage line and sensing when an attacking opportunity is developing.

    Once the Roosters take control of the middle there are few teams who can quickly arrest that momentum so the key in limiting Friend's effectiveness lies in winning the battle at the ruck.

    Luke wasn't his destructive self upon his return from shoulder surgery in Round 12 but has run for more than 100 metres in seven of his past nine games.

    The Roosters have done well to restrict Luke in their two meetings this season, keeping him to just 78m and 80m.

    Panthers v Bulldogs: Jamie Soward v Trent Hodkinson

    As much as this game will probably be won and lost in the forwards, to two conductors – Jamie Soward and Trent Hodkinson – will have a huge say in how this pans out.

    They each slotted match-winning field goals in their last games.

    They each have the maturity and temperament to grab this game by the scruff of the neck in the key moments.

    Neither is really flashy, but they have both made a habit of getting the job done for their teams in 2014 and that's exactly what is needed in the big end-of-year games.

    Soward's 18 try assists and Hodkinson's nine try assists don't really tell the story of what they bring to their sides.

    Nor do their seven and five respective tries.

    Soward's three 40/20s and Hodkinson's four field goals provide a clue.

    But you really have to go to the highlights for the clutch conversions and high-pressure field goals to see the way these two guys stare down the weight of expectation, laugh in the face of pressure, make a mockery of nerves and provide exactly what their team needs.

    When the match is there to be won, expect one of these two to step up to the plate.


  20. rhugh89

    rhugh89 Danny 'Bedsy' Buderus Staff Member Admin

    Aug 12, 2012
    Bulldogs, Rabbitohs members take early lead


    9:00am Thu 25th September, 2014

    The Rabbitohs and Bulldogs look to have the edge heading into this weekend's Preliminary Finals with fans and members of both teams snapping up tickets in record time.

    Rabbitohs fans have counted for 60 per cent of all tickets sold for Friday night's clash against fierce rivals the Sydney Roosters, while the Bulldogs army hold a slight edge over the Panthers securing 57 per cent of all tickets sold for Saturday night's blockbuster.

    The thrill and excitement won't be limited to the field of play with Shannon Noel, Friday night, and Shepherd, Saturday night, set to rock ANZ Stadium. T

    he precinct area will also be lit up for fans with entertainers such as roving bands, a DJ, LED hula-hoop artists and neon stilt walkers, for all to enjoy.

    NRL Head of Commercial Paul Kind praised the effort of club members getting in early to purchase tickets while encouraging fans of all teams to get to ANZ Stadium and experience the action live.

    "We have experienced one of the closest Finals Series on record and the stage is set for two explosive match-ups this weekend," Mr Kind said.

    "Rabbitohs and Bulldogs supporters may hold the balance of power in terms of ticket sales at the moment but I have no doubt Roosters and Panthers fans will go close to squaring the ledger before kick-off.

    "With integrated transport available, there really isn't an excuse for fans of all teams to get their tickets now to secure a seat for what is certain to be a memorable weekend of finals footy."

    Rabbitohs captain John Sutton welcomed news his teams members and fans were leading the charge, declaring their support could prove the difference between winning and losing.

    "There is nothing more inspirational than looking around and seeing a packed crowd decked out in red and green," Sutton said.

    "Our members and fans are the heart and soul of the club and I know they will be there with us every step of the way on Friday night."

    Integrated transport will be available across the Sydney train network with every pre purchased ticket to receive complimentary travel.

    The service will extend as far as Bomaderry, Goulburn, Bathurst and Dungog stations.

    For more information and to plan your journey please visit www.sydneytrains.info.

    Tickets to both Preliminary Finals matches this weekend are now on sale, starting at $40 for adults, $20 for children and $90 for families. Fans can purchase tickets at www.ticketek.com.au/nrlfinals or by calling 132 849 or by visiting a Ticketek outlet.



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