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Bunnies want to prowl like Panthers

By Ben Horne 29/05/2010 11:28:17 AM Comments (0)

The Penrith Panthers are everything South Sydney wanted to be in the NRL this season.

After years of coming up short, the Rabbitohs hoped to realise their great potential and make a serious challenge for the premiership.

Of course, there's still plenty of time for Souths to get things right and put themselves in the frame, but beating the competition's most improved on Sunday is a crucial step.

The Panthers went into this season with the worst recent record in the NRL - they have not made the finals since 2004, which is the longest stretch of any team.

After always promising so much, the Panthers have finally found consistency, and a win over the Rabbitohs will see them remain joint-leaders of the competition with the Dragons and possibly the Gold Coast.

On the other hand, the Rabbitohs have been on a win, loss sequence for the past six weeks and went down last round to the Warriors.

Souths - coached by former Penrith grand final-winning coach, John Lang - say the Panthers' powerful start acts as an inspiration to them as they strive to turn the odd strong performance into a winning run.

"Obviously they've been struggling for a few years and they've really started the season off well and they've snuck under the radar and started to come to light," said Rabbitohs' captain, Roy Asotasi.

"We've got a lot of things we need to work on to get ourselves back into the winning form that we need to get to, and that's pretty much it right there.

"I guess one of the biggest things for us is consistency. Good teams play good footy for a month and that's something we haven't done yet, but hopefully, we can get a win against the Panthers and try and continue that form going into the business end of the season."

Fellow Souths' prop Scott Geddes goes as far to say Penrith have set the bar for where other teams need to get to this season.

"Absolutely, they've pretty much been the benchmark this year so we've really got to be switched on, get out there, really take it to them and try and get the two points," Geddes said.

"They've really stepped up to the plate this year and it's something we want to do. We're just going to worry about ourselves."

There's no doubt the loss of Petero Civoniceva hurts the Panthers, but the strength of Matt Elliott's side this year is that their forwards will still be a huge test for Souths' renowned pack even without their captain.

Young buck Tim Grant has stood up this year, and joined by Frank Pritchard and Origin stars Trent Waterhouse and Luke Lewis in the forwards, the mountain men aren't to be messed with.

Geddes, who has been strong for Souths this season, said he can't wait for what shapes as an epic engine room battle.

"Their forwards are really what's been getting them to where they are this year. We're really looking forward to it," he said.

Asotasi, who has managed just six matches this season, is hoping he has shaken a shoulder problem and can re-focus on leading his Rabbitohs around the park.

"It's quite frustrating just hanging out on the sidelines and watching the boys," he said.

"My goal is just to complete a full game of footy."

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