Inglis and Dugan eye SCG glory
Two proud clubs steeped in history; two clubs struggling a bit for form; two in-form superstar fullbacks and one revered sporting venue.
The most historic rugby league venue in the country, the Sydney Cricket Ground, will host the Rabbitohs and the Dragons on Saturday night and each side's respective State of Origin fullbacks are hoping the big stage can spark their sides back into form as the 2015 Telstra NRL Premiership enters the final third of the season.
Inglis and Dugan were on hand at the SCG on Wednesday morning to help launch the Round 19 Men of League Heritage Round clash, which will kick off right where they were standing at 7:30pm on Saturday night.
For Inglis, whose Bunnies memorably broke a 43-year premiership drought last year, the chance to go back-to-back and become the first club to do so since Brisbane in a unified competition in 1992-93 provides plenty of motivation and a chance to create a new slice of history.
For Dugan, battered and bruised after his side's five straight losses and his own defeat with NSW in Origin III at the hands of Inglis and the Maroons, there is no shortage of motivation to return to the winners' circle.
Disrupted somewhat by two byes, the Rabbitohs have just one win in the past five weeks themselves and Inglis said their current fifth-placed ladder position is not where they want to be.
"We're obviously sitting just outside the four. Even though we started really well to the season, like any other club form becomes an issue around Origin time then injuries start to hit clubs as well," Inglis said.
"We've just got to get back on track and just play the brand of footy that we enjoy playing and not go too far away from it.
"There's been a lot of swapping and changing this year compared to last year [and] injury as well. We've just got to find that right consistency and we're training really well. We've just got to transfer it to game day."
Dugan said the seventh-placed Dragons are looking to regain the confidence that, just six weeks ago, had them sitting atop the NRL ladder and boasting the best defence in the league (two mantles that have since been snatched by the Broncos and Roosters respectively).
"I think it's just about getting that confidence back in the boys and 'GI' said it, it's about that consistency," Dugan said.
"This time of year's always tough coming off the back of Origin, you've got injuries and that sort of thing. Going back-to-back for 16, 17 weeks is always tough.
"You do start to get injuries and you start missing players and for us that's been a big thing is just missing players, but again anyone that steps up is there to do a job and we just have to be able to do it. It's just about getting that confidence and consistency back."
As if his side needed any extra motivation, the chance to run out on the hallowed SCG pitch provided something extra.
"Games like this you don't worry about form, there's so much passion and pride in games like this, it's always something special and always a great game to be part of."
Despite the side rapidly slipping down the ladder and needing to win five of their last eight to guarantee a place in the finals, Dugan insisted it's not panic stations for the Red V just yet.
"We lost a couple of games at the start of the year and turned it around. It is just about getting our consistency and getting our players back and we have a few back this week and the rest will start coming back over the next couple of weeks too," he said.
"What we have to do is go out there and do the little things right and take the right attitude into the games.
"If we lose this weekend, we can start getting a little bit worried, but everyone is pretty excited about the game this weekend and I think everyone will turn up."
This weekend's match gives Inglis another chance to play on the ground where he famously lit up the 2008 Centenary Test with a remarkable pass from well over the dead ball line back in for Mark Gasnier to score a stunning try.
"I think I have said a few times before that was a fluke, it was just a reaction, you see players do that all the time now," Inglis said.
"I have been lucky enough to play here on a number of occasions and to keep coming back it is a great ground to be at, to be part of the Heritage Round with two clubs with such great history is great and it is going to be a cracker on Saturday night."