Canterbury look set to blood Moses Mbye at hooker for Sunday’s grand final date against South Sydney.
Canterbury are set to put faith in eight-game rookie Moses Mbye to fill the boots of Michael Ennis at hooker for Sunday’s grand final against South Sydney.
For an exciting young talent compared to Johnathan Thurston, Mbye’s unexpected grand final debut is likely to arrive in eerily similar fashion to when the now North Queensland Dally M winner came in as an injury replacement for the Bulldogs’ 2004 premiership win.
A fresh-faced Thurston was blooded on the bench when Canterbury captain Steve Price was ruled out against the Sydney Roosters.
Now with another departing skipper Ennis fighting a losing battle to recover from two fractured bones in his foot, 21-year-old Mbye is expected to follow in Thurston’s footsteps and be thrown in the deep end on league’s biggest day.
Star five-eighth Josh Reynolds revealed Mbye, named on extended bench, was foremost in coach Des Hasler’s thinking due to his strong defensive ability in the middle of the field.
Reynolds confirmed he himself would spend time at dummy-half throughout the grand final to relieve his inexperienced teammate, but said Mbye was likely to take on the brunt of the responsibility.
“I’m pretty sure Moses might get the nod and I’m excited for him, he’s a great kid,” said Reynolds.
“I think he can adapt. He’s a little rock.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Des does put him there and I’d have total faith in him because he’s a great defender and he’s really quick off the mark. He can get us on the front foot as well.
“I don’t think I’ll start (at hooker) but I’d definitely jump in there at some stage.”
As expected, Ennis has been named at No.9, but on Tuesday he told reporters he’d need a miracle to recover from two fractured bones in his foot in time to take part.
Hasler was coy about who would take over from Ennis – a massive loss, however his 19-man squad for grand final day gives away some clues.
Utility Mbye’s future would appear in the halves, however he has played dummy half and centre for the Bulldogs this year.
The other option for Hasler might be to play veteran Reni Maitua, who is also named in the squad.
Maitua has plenty of experience at back row and five-eighth, but could also pitch in at dummy half.
Reserve grade hooker Damien Cook hasn’t been named in the squad, and although that doesn’t completely rule him out, it would appear unlikely he would play the grand final.
Reynolds played dummy half in last week’s preliminary final win over Penrith when Ennis failed to return after halftime, and said switching to the middle of the ruck suits his philosophy of touching the ball as often as possible down to the ground.
“I want to get as many touches as I can,” he said.
“I played a bit of hooker coming through and … I’m ready for that.”
Halfback Trent Hodkinson (knee) has declared himself fit to play.
South Sydney have made one change from the side which battered the Sydney Roosters in the preliminary final, with back rower Ben Te’o rewarded for a blockbusting performance by being promoted to the starting side in place of the benched Kyle Turner.
Despite being named, Rabbitohs hooker Issac Luke will miss the match after he was on Tuesday night found guilty of a dangerous throw on the Roosters’ Sonny Bill Williams.
Back-up rake Api Koroisau, who filled in at No.9 during Luke’s absence earlier in the year, is likely to be added to the squad.
South Sydney: Greg Inglis, Alex Johnston, Dylan Walker, Kirisome Auva’a, Lote Tuqiri, Luke Keary, Adam Reynolds, George Burgess, Issac Luke, Dave Tyrrell, Ben Te’o, John Sutton (capt), Sam Burgess. Interchange: Jason Clark, Kyle Turner, Chris McQueen, Thomas Burgess, Ben Lowe, Luke Burgess, Bryson Goodwin
Canterbury: Sam Perrett, Corey Thompson, Josh Morris, Tim Lafai, Mitch Brown, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (capt), James Graham, Josh Jackson, Tony Williams, Greg Eastwood, Interchange: Tim Browne, Dale Finucane, David Klemmer, Frank Pritchard, Moses Mbye, Reni Maitua