South Sydney are adamant superstar skipper Greg Inglis will be back for the NRL finals – and they had better hope so.
Dismissing suggestions Inglis had been struggling with fatigue from his heavy workload and injury for some time, coach Michael Maguire said on Tuesday he was confident of having Inglis back in time for either next week’s final round blockbuster with the Sydney Roosters or week one of the finals.
But there are no guarantees, with Monday’s surgery to remove some loose cartilage usually requiring a two to three-week recovery period.
“He had the operation and we’re looking forward to him recovering,” Maguire said.
“The timing will depend on how it pans but we’ve been assured it will only be short.
“It’s quite positive around the operation. It was fairly straight forward and the doctors were really positive.”
The fourth-placed Rabbitohs will need all the firepower they can muster for their final two regular season matches against Brisbane on Thursday then the Roosters, and statistics show they fail to fire as many bullets without their captain.
Losing Inglis for even one week of the finals would be a huge blow.
Since 2012, Maguire’s team has averaged just under one try less per game when Inglis is not in their line up, according to Fox Sports Stats.
With him playing, they average 24.1 points per game, without him, that drops to 19.3.
While they still boast a respectable win rate of 58.8 per cent (from 17 matches) without the Queensland and Australia star, it is well down on their average of 67.1 per cent when he is in the mix.
Maguire brushed off suggestions Inglis had been suffering fatigue and struggling with a knee problem for some time.
Inglis has played 57 games since the start of last year.
“(The knee injury) happened where you saw him grab his knee (in last Friday’s loss to Canterbury),” Maguire said.
“The knee’s been talked about quite a lot and Greg probably gets annoyed sometimes about how much he hears about it.
“It’s a part of it and he’s got no problems.
“He’s probably fresher now than he ever has been, the way he’s been playing his footy and you saw that when he came out of Origin.”
THE GI EFFECT
How South Sydney perform with and without Greg Inglis since 2012
When GI is missing
* Games: 17
* Won: 10
* Lost 7
* Win: 58.8%
* Avg For: 19.3
* Avg Against: 16.3
When GI is playing
* Games: 85
* Won: 57
* Lost 28
* Win: 67.1%
* Avg For: 24.1
* Avg Against: 17.2.
Source: Fox Sports Stats