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Murray backs Bunnies middles to come out on top

South Sydney's forward pack might be overlooked by some, but Cameron Murray has faith they'll more than hold their own against the Panthers on Saturday night.

Much of the attention this year has been on the Rabbitohs' backline with the likes of Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds, Latrell Mitchell and Alex Johnston continually producing freakish moments.

However, Murray knows the little men won't be able to shine throughout the play-offs unless the big boys stamp their authority.

"The magic they do, it all starts with what we do as a pack," the lock said leading into the qualifying final at QCB Stadium.

"I haven't compared our middles too much to the teams around us. I've had a real in-house mindset over the last couple of months and just focusing on what we need to do well.

"I'll always back our middles - and I'll always back myself - to be the best middles in the comp. That's a mindset we've had and what we've tried to live up to personally for ourselves.

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"We're always pushing ourselves to do everything we can to improve as a pack because we've seen over the last couple of weeks, now the best defensive teams are always the ones on top."

Second-rower Jai Arrow noted that Penrith boast a lot of "big bodies" but mapped out a simple plan for containing dynamic behemoths including James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Viliame Kikau.

"That will be to run hard, look to bust the line, kick to a corner and hopefully turn them around," Arrow said.

"Have their big boys trying to get back into the attacking line and fly up and get in their face and take them down as best you can."

Hooker Damien Cook is banking on his forwards generating momentum so he can exhibit his trademark running game.

Cook took just three darts from dummy-half for a total of 16 metres when the Rabbitohs were belted 56-12 by the Panthers in round 12.

But he managed to produce five runs for 79 metres as South Sydney put up a much stronger fight in a 25-12 loss two weeks ago.

"I've got to take my opportunities where I can but also not overplay my hand. I've just got to do my job, look after the markers, tie them up and give the ball to Cody and Reyno and let them do the rest," he said.

"I've just got to pick my times and play how the game goes. In the past, I've had a lot more runs during my games, but I'd like to think I've grown more as a player and understood my role a lot more too."

While Penrith and Melbourne have been rightly celebrated for outstanding seasons, South Sydney feel they are also in peak condition as they hunt a historic 22nd premiership.

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"There was a good analogy about Grant Hackett when he broke the world record and Ian Thorpe broke it the same day," Tom Burgess said.

"It's been similar this year. We've had a great year but also Penrith and Melbourne have. It's a new season now, everyone's in the same boat."

Motivation won't be an issue for the Rabbitohs with master coach Wayne Bennett already stirring up his troops this week.

"This morning's chat was very good," Cook said on Wednesday.

"He kept us very focused on what needs to be done for us to work on what's happened in the past and why we've lost those games.

"I was pretty pumped up after his chat this morning and ready to get out there and train today."

Burgess added: "He's the man motivator. That's his thing. He's been around a lot of teams for a lot of years, so he knows how to get his teams up and that's where he really shines.

"He's got a great speech in him."

 

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