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We're down to the final four in the Telstra Premiership, and picking a winner is still a daunting proposition. Big League editor David Piepers looks at the biggest question facing each of the sides heading into the preliminary finals.

Sharks: Is Matt Moylan ready for his moment?

Overall, Moylan gave a great account of himself as the Sharks beat his former club by a point last Friday, but it's arguable his "coming of age" moment on the big stage is yet to arrive.

He played four finals games during his time at the foot of the mountains – missing one campaign through injury and last year courtesy of the personal reasons that ended with his move to the Shire – but in every one of those games he played at fullback, and in none of them were the Panthers able to progress past the second week.

When Moylan made his State of Origin debut in 2016 he was seen as a catalyst with the ability to change the Blues' fortunes, but it wasn't until he was taken out of fullback and moved to five-eighth in game three that the Blues were able to win a game.  

At times this season, Moylan has played in the five-eighth role with a level of confidence that has been a joy to watch – but consistency has proven an issue.

Unburdened by the captaincy and surrounded by experienced team-mates who've done it before, we may see his defining moment arrive.

Roosters: How big a loss is Latrell Mitchell?

The most notable absentee when the Rabbitohs-Roosters clash gets underway will be Latrell Mitchell. The young gun has had a career-defining year but won't take his place after being found guilty of a crusher tackle.

His absence is seen by some as a massive blow to the Roosters, and one that could ultimately define their finals. All this just a year after Mitchell found himself dropped to reserve grade after a number of poor performances.

There's no doubt that Mitchell is a loss, but with Blake Ferguson, Daniel Tupou, Joseph Manu and the ever-ready Mitch Aubusson under the watchful eye of Trent Robinson, they can still get the job done.

His goal-kicking ability is also important, but not irreplaceable.

Storm: Is the halfback situation resolved?

The big question hanging over the Storm is if they can go back-to-back, and the answer to that is seemingly tied to the halfback issue.

After a stunning performance against the Rabbitohs in the first week of the finals, Brodie Croft looks to have secured the role – but he hasn't had the benefit of job security all season, missing ten rounds in the middle of the year and another four towards the end of the campaign as Craig Bellamy selected teams on a case-by-case basis, alternating between Croft, Ryley Jacks and Jahrome Hughes.

As difficult as that approach must make achieving consistency for each aspirant, they've taken it in their stride - except for when it comes to playing this week's opponent.

In the two games against Cronulla this year, Croft and Hughes took on halfback duties – and neither could prevail. Whoever fills that role this week will be heavily targeted by the Sharks' monster pack, no matter how depleted they are.

While they might all consider themselves psychologically prepared, as the biggest moments approach we'll find out just how strong their mettle is, and how close the Storm are to officially replacing Cooper Cronk.

Storm v Sharks - Preliminary Final

Rabbitohs: Will two massive weeks take a toll?

Yes, Cronulla have also played twice, but the Sharks almost paid for it with a second-half lapse against Penrith, and their rapidly-increasing injury concerns also indicate they may be feeling the effects of two sapping contests.

But if those were sapping, South Sydney's past two weeks have been beyond exhausting, both mentally and physically – and that's not even considering the off-field drama that has surrounded some members of the playing group for nearly a week.

Two one-point games, two clashes full of big hits, end-to-end action and high pressure – it's been an exciting time for fans, and the team has emerged relatively unscathed.

But Cronulla have been playing September football for four years now, with an experienced, but aging pack.

South Sydney have finished in 12th place for the past two seasons. Last year we saw Parramatta take Melbourne all the way in week one of the finals, only to run out of steam a week after giving their all.

Souths may be better conditioned than the Eels thanks to a large number of representative players, but the games don't get any easier from here, and after two Herculean efforts, delivering that same quality at both ends of the field for another 180 minutes of massive intensity is going to be the ultimate test for the red and green.


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