Fittler's forecast: Beware the foot soldiers
As the winds mellow and the dust settles across the eastern seaboard, there are four footballing centres who are just starting to whip themselves into a frenzy. Brisbane, Melbourne, Parramatta and Canterbury.<br><br>What a contrast it is as four of the league’s biggest money spinners face off. The Sydney derby between the Bulldogs and the Eels, played in front of 80-thousand traditional fans at ANZ Stadium. <br><br>And the battle of the giants, Melbourne and Brisbane, to be fought out at the Docklands in front of hopefully 40-thousand. <br><br>All four sides are renowned for their big guns and match winners - but it could be the foot soldiers who will eventually decide victory.<br><br>On Friday night when the two arch rivals from the eighties battle it out, there will be watchful eyes on Jarryd Hayne , Brett Kimmorley , Fui Fui and Luke Patten… and rightfully so. <br><br>Ultimately, they will be the men who come up with the plays that will decide the result. But if you take a closer look, you will find a soldier amongst the blue, yellow and white colours who will play a major part in the battle. <br><br>It could be man who delivers a quick play the ball, the guy there as the active support, the bloke running the inglorious decoy line… or the fella endlessly hunting for the perfect line. <br><br>These men are typically are paid less and noticed less, but the dynamics of success has much more to do with skill than it does ego.<br><br>Friday night’s thriller typifies this belief. Both sides are full of blokes who are constantly fly under the radar and it’s these blokes who will set off a chain of events that will in the end seal the result.<br><br>Joel Reddy, Jeff Robson, Matt Keating and Todd Lowrie all played huge roles in the Eels defeat of the Gold Coast. Joel Reddy’s defence on the right hand side has been extraordinary, in charge of looking after Eric Grothe and Jeff Robson. <br><br>The Bulldogs will look to put Bryson Goodwin on the outside of Eric Grothe which has not proved to be not that difficult with his up and in defensive style. <br><br>Reddy will be the brains. He will protect Robson against Andrew Ryan and also Eric’s wing if the ball gets outside.<br><br>The hooker Keating plays a huge role while looking out for Hayne off the ruck. He may find plenty of room through the middle given the Bulldogs spread in defence.<br><br>Keating will have to be physically tough because the Dogs don’t let you off lightly. <br><br>And Todd Lowrie - the man who broke the game open against the Gold Coast with his inside ball off Feleti Mateo - will be probing for similar situations. <br><br>On the other side of the trenches, the Bulldogs face a very similar beast. Few stars and plenty of soldiers.<br><br>Andrew Ryan will have to be monitored down the left hand side attacking Robson and he also has a deft little left foot kick if Eric Grothe wants to come up. <br><br>Warburton has plenty of skill. But I believe the Eels’ biggest danger is Greg Eastwood. <br><br>Not much has been said about his form this year - his ability to beat a tackle, offload and ability come up with a big play has been overlooked by the best judges.<br><br>Should be a ball tearer, Parra by six.<br><br>The task for Brisbane is looking more difficult everyday despite their recent performances. <br><br>I beg the question... can they do it again this time against the well oiled Melbourne Storm machine?<br><br>With Peter Wallace watching on with a broken ankle, the Broncos face a massive dilemma: who is going to get the ball to General Macarthur, Darren Lockyer?<br><br>Both sides are so full of deadly weapons.<br><br>Cam Smith at dummy half, Billy Slater all over the field and the might of a Greg Inglis palm would keep your head spinning. <br><br>The Storm’s greatest weapon has always been the ablility to turn an unknown into quality.<br><br>Ryan Hoffman, Steve Turner and Adam Blair have all been lacking confidence at some stage but have consistently stepped up and now it will be time for a few more players to do the same.<br><br>Will Chambers has a huge job. Firstly to probe the defensive weaknesses of Israel Folau and then the responsibility to nullify Folau’s high leaping ability and try scoring prowess.<br><br>Aiden Tolman and Ryan Tandy will both cover a prop position for 60 minutes and considering what Brisbane did to St George last week, they are going to have to put on the war paint because they will know they are in a game. <br><br>I’ve been a Broncos fan for the past six weeks but I think the 100% record at the Docklands will still exist on Sunday morning.<br><br>Melbourne by 10.<br><br>I can’t wait – but you do yourself a favour. Take your eyes off the cannons and check out the foot soldiers who will clear the way. You may be surprised.