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  • Blockbuster finals preview to finish off the year
  • Expert Steve Green expects a tight contest

What a way to get ready for finals footy!

NRL Tips expert Steve Green previews the huge clash between Souths and Sydney.

At the beginning of this season, this match was pencilled in to be a classic! We had hoped they might be battling it out for a minor premiership or a top 4 spot at worst…but the way it stands, only Souths have something to play for in this one. If they lose and Manly win (and the 32 difference in points differential is made up by Manly), then Souths drop out of the top. While this is very unlikely to occur, as Manly are missing Tom T and playing the Eels at Bankwest, Souths have no option but to go hard.

But the Roosters do have the option to rest players, and I was surprised to see that they had named a close to full-strength team for this one. Cordner may need to get match fitness up, so I get that…but I think resting some of the other stars perfect sense!

With the extended bench system, if I was Coach Robinson I would move Manu to 1 and bring in Billy Smith to the centres. Hutchinson could also be moved in for Keary and JWH could be rested to ensure he is fit and firing (and not suspended!) for the finals!

Some guys are so crucial to the Roosters finals campaign and although there is a school of thought that psychologically you want to keep winning, I think resting stars and avoiding injury is the far smarter move.

However the squads were culled back to 19 players and the Roosters cut B Morris and Mitch Aubusson… so that means I cannot see Tedesco being rested, as they simply don’t have the outside backs in their squad to cover for him. Keary may still be rested with Hutchinson remaining in reserves, but there is a chance Coach Robinson plays all his stars.

As for form, Souths have rocketed back into contention with some strong performances of late. Coach Bennett is famous for timing his team’s run so that they peak for the finals and he may have fooled everyone (including myself) by having Souths turn up their intensity right as we hit the business end of the season.

S Burgess and A Johnston returned last week is a big boost and although they are still missing their centres, they have a team that is good enough to win this one.

But with so much uncertainty about who lines up, and with some other good value options this weekend, I am going to stay out of this one.

Predicted score

Roosters 20
Souths 18

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