Souths can take positives from comeback: Tuqiri
Regardless of whether the Rabbitohs are drawn to face the Roosters when next week's finals series kicks off, veteran winger Lote Tuqiri says the fact they almost pinched a win from right under the premiers' noses will have the Bunnies chock full of confidence.
Souths were down a man and all but out after 50 minutes on Thursday night, with Kirisome Auva'a sin-binned and Mitch Pearce guiding the Roosters to a healthy 22-2 lead with half an hour to play. But with three tries in 10 minutes, the last of which was scored by Tuqiri, the Rabbitohs stormed back into contention late in the game and can take plenty of heart out of a tight 22-18 loss.
The result confirms Souths will finish in third place, and a Manly win on Saturday night in Townsville would lock the Roosters into second, meaning a return bout at Allianz Stadium in just over a week's time for the two bitter rivals.
Tuqiri says the Rabbitohs' late fightback, as well as the fact they are assured of a top-four finish and a second bite of the cherry in the semis, will have their Redfern base in high spirits despite the loss.
"To come back like that and almost get them, yeah we'll take plenty out of it," Tuqiri says.
"We've always had that belief in what we're doing, our structures, but we just ran out of time. We're certainly not hanging our heads in disappointment, there's plenty we'll take away from that."
While rugby league fans will be salivating at the prospect of two of the game's oldest enemies being pitched into a finals battle for the first time since 1938, Tuqiri was cautious when asked if the Rabbits' fast finish could give them a psychological advantage over the Roosters.
"It gives us confidence, but we can't say we're playing them or anyone else, because if you start thinking one way and it goes another, well you could be in trouble," Tuqiri told NRL.com.
"It's Thursday now and we've got a bit of time to recover and we can watch the other teams battle it out.
"It's good for us to sit back with confidence, we're in the top four and we'll know in a couple of days where we're playing."
A veteran with over 15 years experience in both rugby league and union, Tuqiri has played on some of the biggest stages both codes have to offer, from grand finals and State of Origin to the Rugby World Cup and Bledisloe Tests.
Set to make his first appearance in an NRL finals match since 2010 with the Tigers, the 34-year-old is champing at the bit to get amongst it now we've arrived at business end of the season.
"I can't wait, whoever we play," Tuqiri says.
"This is the best time of the year, this is why you play footy. This is the big stage, and it was a pretty big stage out there tonight.
"It was a fair crowd out there tonight and that finals type of atmosphere, I can't wait.
"I always had the belief, I want to play in the big games again. When I was in Ireland I wasn't sure if I'd get back to the NRL but I'm bloody glad I'm here now, and bloody glad I'm with a club like the Bunnies."