IT’S one of the two trophies they hope to snatch from Melbourne but the South Sydney Rabbitohs will have to overcome an ugly scheduling clash next February to do it.
Souths coach Michael Maguire on Wednesday left the door ajar for star Greg Inglis to make a surprise return from a knee injury when the two clubs meet at AAMI Park on Friday, although it’s understood the fullback’s chances of playing are minimal.
After two losses from three games, the bunnies need a win against the reigning champions to right the challenge for their first premiership in 42 years.
But Fairfax Media understands the World Club Challenge and the Charity Shield – which always involves South Sydney and St George Illawarra – have both been set down for the same day next year, February 22.
If South Sydney snatches the Telstra Premiership trophy from the Storm in October, it will have to forgo one of the money-spinning pre-season showpieces or field an understrength team in one of them.
“I think it’s good the World Club Championship is coming to Australia,” says Storm CEO Mark Evans.
“It’s been over there for a long while now. Although the home team has a big advantage, it’s time to see how it goes here as an event.”
While it’s almost certain the Charity Shield would be shifted to make way for the world title bout, if the WCC was not held in 2014, Melbourne would keep the trophy by default.
Maguire added a bit of intrigue about the build-up to Friday night’s Storm-Rabbitohs clash when he said of Inglis: “We’re actually going to train him tomorrow and see how he goes for the weekend.
“It’s pretty positive for us at the moment with where he’s at but we’re not going to risk pushing him out there if he’s not ready.”
Melbourne have their own doubtful player in centre Maurice Blair, who badly jarred his neck in an ugly tackle in the 68-4 win over Canberra on Sunday. The club has declined interview requests on Blair’s behalf.
A hamstring injury ruled Justin O’Neill out of consideration for the Storm side but he could be a smoky as a replacement for Blair should he be ruled out.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy will host a media conference just after midday Thursday. The Rabbitohs arrive in town several hours later. Around 20,000 people are expected for the second versus fourth clash.
Filed for: THE AGE