Rabbitohs must hit the ground running in final
DUAL grand final winner Justin Hodges says hot favourites South Sydney must switch on from the opening whistle against a snubbed Bulldogs outfit fuelled by a siege mentality.
The Rabbitohs been engulfed in a tsunami of emotion as they shoot for their 21st premiership victory since 1908 but their first since 1971 - a wait of 43 years.
The power of their victory over defending premiers the Roosters last weekend off a week's rest was such that with or without hooker Issac Luke, pundits just can't see the Bulldogs being able to hold the likes of Greg Inglis, Dylan Walker, Sam Burgess, John Sutton and Ben Te'o, whose impact off the bench last weekend was eye-catching and turned the clash.
Hodges, who won a grand final with the Sydney Roosters in 2002 and another with his current NRL club Brisbane in 2006, said Souths had been sluggish out of the boxes in recent games, including last week when they spotted the Roosters a 12-0 start before piling on 32 unanswered points as their forwards took control.
"For Souths to win, which I think they will, they will need to start well and not let the Bulldogs get their tails up," Hodges told APN during a break on the Sunshine Coast.
"Souths are a great side, they're a monster side but this is a grand final an anything can happen on the day."
Hodges doubted Souths would fall at the last hurdle as they had in recent years when gripped by the pressure of breaking the proud club's premiership drought.
"They look more dominant and they have learned a lot from the experience of getting close," said Hodges who said he would be at the grand final to support his close mate Inglis who was back to his best form last weekend against the Roosters and is a proven big-stage player.
South Sydney believes Michael Ennis will play despite scans earlier in the weekend revealing two small fractures in his foot.
Former Penrith halfback Greg Alexander, now a commentator for Fox Sports said he had played with a similar injury, giving hope that Ennis may be able to play his last game for the Bulldogs on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the footballing Mata'utai brother Sione and Chanel (Newcastle) and Pat (St George Illawarra) could be the centre of a tug of war with the Bulldogs reportedly signing the siblings from 2016.
The reports, however, have infuriated Newcastle chief executive Matt Gidley, who is adamant Sione and Chanel aren't going anywhere.
It's understood the Bulldogs have lodged a terms of agreement document with the NRL but the Knights have until round 13 next season to change their minds.