COACH Michael Maguire insists South Sydney will overcome a hurdle bigger than that currently provided by any opponent – the Origin-enforced absence of Greg Inglis.
Inglis was the talk of Suncorp Stadium on Friday night after his intervention turned a tense contest into a comfortable seventh win of the year for the Rabbitohs.
Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin admitted after the 26-12 loss that Maguire’s men were “too good” but reckoned Melbourne remain the best side he has come up against this year.
But with Origin in the horizon, Souths must learn how to maintain their momentum without the man NRL players rate the best in the competition.
“There’s a lot of football to go and we’ve got an Origin series to get through,” said Maguire, who laconically reckoned Inglis was “going alright out the back there”.
“I’m sure Greggy’s going to be in the Origin so we’ll make sure we sort that position out
“I’m really pleased with the players we’ve got underneath. Justin Hunt, he’s playing really well in reserve grade and we’ve got a number of other players.
“Dylan Farrell is coming back from injury. We’ve got a lot of good players we can put in those positions. We’ll assess that..”
Five-eighth John Sutton said of his custodian “he’s just a freak, he does it every week for us. I’m glad I’m playing next to him every week.”
“His returns really get us on the front foot and the boys really feed off his energy,” Sutton said.
Griffin expanded on the former Golden Boot winner’s influence. “With him at the back, they can roll forward and be patient and he’s receiving the ball….
“No matter where’s receiving it, whether it’s one of our kicks off their tryline or coming onto the back of some of their play, he’s just very hard to handle.”
Griffin, who went into the game without the injured Justin Hodges and Josh McGuire, had to concede his men had no answer when the Inglis-inspired Souths put their foot on the gas after halftime.
“I thought we were on top of the game at (halftime) but that first 15 minutes of the second half just blew us away,” said Griffin.
“It was enough. It was brief. It was some poor defence in the middle but it was the night.
“They were just too good. We just let them go. It’s a good lesson for us. They were obviously very good.”
Captain Sam Thaiday added: “They were tougher than us. We weren’t tough enough at all. We probably weren’t tough enough last week but … snuck through with a win.
“We probably got found out tonight.”
Maguire said centre Bryson Goodwin hanging onto the ball after Greg Inglis’ break, with Nathan Merritt scoring off the next tackle, summed up the difference between the halves.
“We pushed the ball in the first half and held onto it in the second,” said Maguire. “Our game? Our game is the second half, not the first.”
Maguire again said he was convinced winger Merritt was ready for Origin.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD