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Eels keen to stick to routine before GF | 02:16 Fox League from Fox Sports October 2nd, 2022 10:34 am Panthers premiership hero Craig Gower believes Ivan Cleary cannot afford to bench Apisai Koroisau as his former side prepares for Sunday’s grand final against Parramatta.
Cleary started utility Mitch Kenny at hooker last week, with South Sydney skipping out to an early lead before the scheming Koroisau helped navigate the Panthers to a comeback victory.
Speaking on Triple M’s ‘Saturday Scrum’, The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio said Penrith could pull the late switch again in a bid to negate a tactic that has previously been used to try tire the crafty Koroisau.
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“Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen Ivan Cleary make the subtle change to his starting line-up, which includes Mitch Kenny in his starting line-up and leaving Apisai Koroisau to provide impact and come off the bench,” Riccio said.
“A lot of fans are confused by this given the standard in the game of Koroisau. The Panthers notice a lot of teams are starting to spot Koroisau up and by that I mean send a lot of their big men at Koroisau to make him make those tackles early in the game.
“Mitch Kenny is highly-regarded as one of the best defensive dummy-halves, certainly not as creative as Koroisau, but to take the sting out of the first 20 minutes. It will be interesting to see if Ivan goes down that path again.”
Ivan Cleary has a big decision to make. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) Ivan Cleary has a big decision to make. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) Source: Getty Images
Gower though is not a fan of the move, arguing it makes it easier for opposition teams to rush up on Nathan Cleary as the Penrith halfback looks to gain the advantage early with his kicking game.
“I don’t like it on the reason of last week we lacked a bit of direction out there and it also gives the defence more time to get to Nathan and more of the attacking players,” Gower said.
“Api is just so decieving out there, you don’t know what he is going to do. That just adds the element to the defensive line of, ‘We’ve got to wait and sit’ instead of going and rushing up to Nathan because there’s not enough deception at that position.
“Hopefully they go with Api. He’s a State of Origin player and adds so much to their attack and it gives Nathan and Luai so much time.”
Meanwhile, Parramatta is reportedly considering a big selection call of its own, starting Nathan Brown and sending Junior Paulo back to the bench.
It is a tactical decision that has the approval of Dragons forward Aaron Woods.
“I don’t mind (Brown starting) because you’re fighting fire with fire,” Woods said on Triple M’s ‘Saturday Scrum’.