04 Oct 40/20 Vision with Scott Prince
My head and my heart tell me the final chapter of the South Sydney fairytale will have a very happy ending.
I know it will be the Bunnies tomorrow by more than 10 points.
The reason. They have overcome their greatest hurdle – expectation. They now understand who they are, what they stand for and just how good they are.
In the past two NRL finals series South Sydney have had the team good enough to win. But the enormous weight of expectation, not only from their own red and green army, but from the entire rugby league fraternity, was just too heavy coming down the final straight.
This year coach Michael Maguire has been able to harness that expectation and use it as fuel to boost this mighty team.
And they are mighty. Last weekend against the Roosters, the Rabbitohs showed just how awesome they now are. They bashed a big, physical, mobile, in-form Roosters team into submission.
Not only that, they outclassed them in attack. South Sydney are as close as I have seen to the perfect grand final team.
No game is over until it has been played, but this one will go to script.
The Dogs are a worthy grand final team. They are tough and very gritty and have talent in attack. James Graham is exceptional at the moment.
But they have come into the wrong grand final. They are up against a force that is more than physical. The Dogs will be hurting tomorrow night.
Only two things can spoil the fairytale.
1. If the Rabbitohs don’t turn up mentally.
This just won’t happen. After two years of seeing this happen, the South Sydney squad of 2014 are a different breed. Man-for-man they are a better side, but mentally they are leagues ahead of 2012-13. There is a hard edge to them that I have not seen before. Yes, there is passion and sentiment, but ahead of that is a steely professionalism, a ruthless iron will.
If Adam Reynolds, Sam Burgess or Greg Inglis are out of the game early then the Rabbits are vulnerable. But such is the momentum of this team this year they would still be my favourites to overcome that as well.
The loss of hooker Isaac Luke is significant. However in Apisai Koroisau they have the best possible replacement. He won’t have the experience of Luke, but he has the same attacking flair, maybe even a bit quicker than Luke.
The old adage – You have to lose a grand final before you know how to win one – just isn’t true. I recall that old champion Roycey Simmons telling us what a load of rubbish that was back in ’05. He was assistant coach at the Tigers when we won the flag that year.
Yes, his Panthers did lose in 1991, before coming back to win in ’92, but according to Royce it is all about belief. When you get to that day, just know that you deserve to be there and then do your job.
Nerves play a big part in any major sporting event. In ’05 I was a nervous wreck in the lead-up week. I was physically sick through nerves a number of times. At the official grand final breakfast I couldn’t touch a piece of food. I couldn’t appear on the Footy Show because I was just too crook and as soon as I wasn’t busy doing something the game would start playing over in my head.
So much wasted nervous energy.
But as soon as I ran across that white line on Grand Final day that all disappeared. I felt a calmness that I had never felt before.
I knew this was my time, my day, my game.
I knew I had done the hard yards. I knew I deserved to be there. I had total belief.
I also know that is how the Bunnies will feel tomorrow.
It is great that they have a mountain of support. It is fantastic that they have been in sizzling form, individually and as a team. A Rabbits win will do wonders for the code.
However, every player wearing red and green tomorrow has belief … and that is what matters most.