Coaches Remain Coy at NRL Grand Final Lunch
The NRL grand final launch left onlookers with more questions than answers as the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs prepare for a colossal showdown on Sunday night.
Like, why was John Sutton's mother encouraging her baby boy's team to get into the "ripping and the tearing" of the Bulldogs?
Why was Luke Keary kissing Adam Reynolds?
And have Mitch Brown and James Graham hugged and made up after the burly English prop gave the winger an enormous spray two weeks ago?
We had the Battle of Britain, between Graham and Sam Burgess, as they attempted peace talks before their clash, while each team's respective Reynolds squared off.
Out of all the questions left unanswered at Darling Harbour's Dockside Pavilion however, none were less surprising than coaches Des Hasler and Michael Maguire leaving their final teams close to their chest with their respective named hookers Michael Ennis (ankle) and Issac Luke (suspension) out of the fixture.
While Ennis has the tiniest of hopes of pulling off a remarkable comeback despite two fractures in his left foot, Hasler, in a nod to comedic legends Monty Python, jokingly called it nothing more than a "flesh wound".
"We have a couple of options there and a couple of established nines," Hasler said when asked who may replace his captain if the time comes to rule him out officially.
"Josh Jackson has filled in and he's a pretty smart player, then there is Josh Reynolds who has previously played a lot of hooker so we'll see what happens on Saturday. We have Damien Cook too so there are a few options to explore."
While the odds are slim, Ennis certainly hasn't given up hope.
"I'll enjoy the week and we'll see what comes of it but it isn't looking great," Ennis, in crutches and a moon boot, said.
"It hasn't changed all week."
While uncertainly runs throughout the Bulldogs camp, the certainty of Luke's absence has left coach Maguire very quiet.
While 13-game rookie Apisai Koroisau has been earmarked a certainty to start in the hooking role, the makeup of Maguire's bench is not as clear cut, along with the amount of time Koroisau will spend on the field.
"We'll see how the game goes. Api has done a great job when he has come into the team and Issac has mentored Api in a great way so we know we have a quality player coming into the team," Maguire said.
"We have our plans and processes in place so he'll just slot in."
When 80-minute hooker Luke spent two months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury earlier in the season, Maguire was forced to completely reshuffle his bench, allowing him to use both Koroisau and NYC hooker Cameron McInnes during games.
Asked if McInnes may come into contention for Sunday's decider, Maguire simply said "maybe".
This article first appeared on NRL.com