Despite lacking access to their suspended star Latrell Mitchell and having finished behind the Panthers on the competition table, both Cameron Smith and Matthew Johns believe that South Sydney will win their 22nd premiership this weekend.
Speaking on SEN 1170, the pair of competition winners stated that Souths' less brutal run to the season's decider should hold them in better stead than their western Sydney rivals come Sunday night.
“I’ve got the Rabbitohs winning,” Smith said.
“Mainly because of their run into this match and how difficult the last three finals have been for Penrith, they’ve been beaten up and again they have a handful of players that have been battled and bruised from that game against Melbourne."
Irrespective of the fact that Penrith posted 56-points on the Bunnies during their Round 12 rout in Dubbo this year, the Storm legend held the view that the previously vanquished Rabbits had drastically improved their once leaky line.
“So, they’re in a really good position the Rabbitohs, and the one thing we’re talking about defence right now, and the one thing I’ve been impressed with is their defence.
“I’ve got the Rabbitohs ahead, just.”
Johns echoed Smith's sentiments, but also claimed that with Wayne Bennett at the helm, the Redferners held a significant trump card over an opponent they have already defeated once this month.
“I’m with Cameron, Souths by a fraction at the moment,” Johns said.
“I’m curious to see how bad the injury is to Adam Reynolds, I think the extra day is an advantage.
“I think the coach [ Bennett], just about how he goes about his work gives me confidence in the Rabbitohs.
“I think, like Cameron, they’re a lot fresher than Penrith are, and that win (against Melbourne) was a really difficult game for them.
“I genuinely think they will win.”
Should Smith and Johns prove correct in their predictions, South Sydney will become the first team in the competition's lengthy history to ever finish the season as premiers after having 50-points or more posted against them.
As mentioned, Penrith raised the bat against the Rabbitohs in late May of this year just a fortnight after Melbourne skinned Souths by 50-0 in Round 9.
League fans will need to wait a further six days before finding out whether these former Origin representatives are on the money or not, with the kick-off for the 2021 NRL Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium scheduled for 7:50pm on Sunday night.