St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham says his side must stop South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Greg Inglis if they are to get their hands on the World Club Challenge trophy.
The South Sydney, Queensland and Australia full-back has been identified as the main threat posed by the NRL champions in tonight’s eagerly-awaited climax to the new World Club Series at Langtree Park.
Inglis, who was in the Melbourne team that beat Leeds in the 2010 World Club Challenge, has taken over from John Sutton as captain of the Rabbitohs and will be pivotal in their attack, according to Cunningham.
“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player,” said Cunningham.
“It will be good to see him running around on Langtree Park.
“We will need to bring a complete performance or he will hurt us.”
Cunningham’s sentiments are echoed by his captain Jon Wilkin, who is also wary of the threat posed by New Zealand Test hooker Issac Luke.
“Our biggest challenge will be stopping them getting the momentum they are used to getting,” Wilkin said. “Issac Luke is dangerous out of dummy half and obviously Greg Inglis is a huge talent.
“Every team has game-breakers and Souths have two fantastic players who would stand out in any team they play for.”
At least Saints will not have to contend with Sam Burgess, the hero of South’s 30-6 win over Canterbury Bulldogs in last season’s NRL grand final. He is now playing rugby union for Bath, but will be in attendance this evening, sitting alongside actor Russell Crowe, who part-owns the Rabbitohs.
“Sam’s a great player and he leaves his own legacy,” said Souths’ former Wigan coach Michael Maguire. “But we’ve got a couple of players that have come in and, although they’re different types of players, they’re very experienced.
“Glenn Stewart has played in two of these World Club Challenges and Timmy Grant is a great player who has played at State of Origin level.”
Stewart, who has joined Souths from Manly, will go up against St Helens’ Australian stand-off Travis Burns, who was best man at the loose forward’s wedding.
Luke Burgess, oldest of the four brothers, has also left the Rabbitohs since the end of last season but 22-year-old twins George and Tom remain to keep the family connection going and Maguire admits they have become integral members of the team.
“To see the twins come across and really grow the way they have is pleasing,” Maguire said.
“When they first came, they were learning their trade and developing themselves, now they’re two senior members of the team who turn up week in, week out and perform at their best.
“They’re very passionate about how they prepare themselves and how they want to be seen and perform.”