South Sydney coach Michael Maguire says his NRL premiers’ recent belting by lowly-ranked Penrith should avert any complacency when they clash again on Sunday.
The Panthers triumphed by 20-6 at Pepper Stadium four weeks ago and Maguire said that game was a kick in the backside for his team.
Despite a spate of injuries to the Panthers squad in recent weeks, the Rabbitohs coach was expecting a similar challenge at ANZ Stadium from Penrith, who are in a do-or-die situation in 12th position with six games left.
“Young (Bryce) Cartwright and a number of other players, they performed at their best and we’re expecting the exact same thing,” Maguire said.
Souths have suffered injuries to a number of key players this season, including Glenn Stewart and halfback Adam Reynolds, and have fluctuated in form as a result.
But last week’s 52-6 trouncing of Newcastle demonstrated a clear return to the premiership-winning form of 2014, with Greg Inglis firing and, according to Maguire, “the one-percenters” being done properly.
Maguire felt his team had overcome early season niggles and were now confident enough to make a proper finals tilt.
“Throughout the season we’ve faced a lot of adversity and injuries, whether it’s combinations, whether or not it’s been key players,” he said.
“I think at the moment we’ve got a lot of players who are really healthy, so it’s a good time of the year to have that, to have that feel around the organisation.”
Back-rower Kyle Turner will return for the Green and Red after recovering from a career-threatening spinal injury in the NRL All Stars game.
Maguire said it was “awesome” to see Turner back following revolutionary surgery involving the removal of a bulging disc.
“He’s one kid that has dedicated every day to finding his way back into first grade and it’s really well deserved,” he said.