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Grand final teams: Kikau back to bench; Bunnies 1-17

As he has done throughout the finals Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has promoted Liam Martin to the starting side and put Viliame Kikau on the bench.

Kikau will be held out of the early exchanges and then unleashed as the Rabbitohs defence starts to feel the pinch.

Penrith prop Tevita Pangai jnr won't be part of the decider after suffering ligament damage to his knee against the Storm while South Sydney have named the same 17 for the third straight week of the playoffs.

Panthers: In a late change announced an hour before kick-off Liam Martin again comes into the starting side and Viliame Kikau goes back to the bench as has been the case in all three of Penrith's finals matches.

Brent Naden is 18th man and J'maine Hopgood was the last man cut from the squad.

Mitch Kenny and Charlie Staines were omitted from the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off.

Dylan Edwards was on light duties for most of the week, using crutches and wearing a protective boot due to a plantar fascia problem, but coach Ivan Cleary reiterated on Saturday that the fullback would play. He was still in a moon boot during the team walk on Sunday.

"Dylan's fine, he'll be right," Cleary said on Saturday.

"I'm sure both teams have got players that are carrying injuries. We certainly have, but we've had that for some time.

"I just marvel at the resilience of these boys and the courage they show each week. They just refuse not to play and they keep turning up and doing their thing. I'm sure it will be the same tomorrow."

Winger Brian To'o (syndesmosis injury) and props James Fisher-Harris (knee) and Moses Leota (calf) will take their places.

Mid-season import Tevita Pangai jnr has had MCL damage to his knee confirmed by scans and faces a month's recovery, ruling him out of Sunday's decider.

The Panthers have 13 players with grand final experience, compared with four for the Rabbitohs.

Rabbitohs: The Rabbitohs will line up 1-17 with no late changes.

Taane Milne was the last man cut and Patrick Mago is the 18th man.

Braidon Burns and Jed Cartwright dropped off the reserves list on Saturday night.

Halfback Adam Reynolds got through Saturday's session without complaint and assistant coach Jason Demetriou said the captain looked to have fully recovered from a groin injury.

"I didn't see anything at training that told me he wasn't 100%. We'll wait and see how he pulls up tomorrow but based on today's training he's ready to go," Demetriou said.

Asked if Reynolds would take back the goal-kicking duties from young fullback Blake Taaffe, Demetriou said: "I'm pretty sure he will".

Reynolds said on Friday he was confident of being able to kick without any impediment on Sunday.

"I'll be close to 100%, if not 100," Reynolds said.

Wayne Bennett named the same 17 players who disposed of Manly to advance to the club's first grand final since 2014.

Souths winger Alex Johnston requires one try to break the Rabbitohs’ season try-scoring record.

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
    Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Blake Taaffe
  • Winger for Panthers is number 2 Stephen Crichton
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex Johnston
  • Centre for Panthers is number 3 Paul Momirovski
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Dane Gagai
  • Centre for Panthers is number 4 Matt Burton
    Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Campbell Graham
  • Winger for Panthers is number 5 Brian To'o
    Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Jaxson Paulo
  • Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 Jarome Luai
    Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
  • Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary
    Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds


  • Prop for Panthers is number 8 Moses Leota
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Mark Nicholls
  • Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Apisai Koroisau
    Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
  • Prop for Panthers is number 10 James Fisher-Harris
    Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Tevita Tatola
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Kurt Capewell
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Keaon Koloamatangi
  • 2nd Row for Panthers is number 17 Liam Martin
    2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Jaydn Su'A
  • Lock for Panthers is number 13 Isaah Yeo
    Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray


  • Interchange for Panthers is number 11 Viliame Kikau
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Benji Marshall
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Tyrone May
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Jacob Host
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Scott Sorensen
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 16 Thomas Burgess
  • Interchange for Panthers is number 16 Spencer Leniu
    Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Jai Arrow


  • Reserve for Panthers is number 18 Brent Naden
    Reserve for Rabbitohs is number 19 Patrick Mago

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Touch Judge: Todd Smith
  • Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins

Last updated:


1. Dylan Edwards: Penrith’s Mr Reliable at the back, helped repel several Storm attacking raids in the preliminary final.

2. Stephen Crichton: Scored the first try of the match against Melbourne and saved a certain four-pointer with a desperation tackle.

3. Paul Momirovski: Has been in and out of the line-up but cemented his spot late in the season.

Every try from the preliminary finals

4. Matt Burton: Playing his last game for the Panthers before heading to Canterbury next season.

5. Brian To’o: Made a welcome return from an ankle injury in the preliminary final and the NSW wingers’ charges will be crucial to Penrith’s chances against Souths.

6. Jarome Luai: Has admitted to inconsistent form since returning from an injury following his maiden State of Origin campaign but was back to his lively best in the four-point triumph over Melbourne.

Cleary to update kicking plan for Souths re-match

7. Nathan Cleary: Penrith’s chief playmaker was cleared by the match review committee after he was placed on report for a lifting tackle against the Storm.

8. Moses Leota: Missed the preliminary final due to a calf concern but coach Ivan Cleary was confident post-game that the prop would be OK for the decider and he's been named to start.

9. Apisai Koroisau: With back-up rake Mitch Kenny out injured, he played all but two minutes of the preliminary final, topping Penrith’s tackle count with 51.

10. James Fisher-Harris: Has been bothered by a knee injury and is in some doubt for game day.

17. Liam Martin: Started against the Storm in the second row and it would be no surprise to see the NSW forward get a go in the run-on side again.

12. Kurt Capewell: Has been a rock for Penrith and in his last game before joining Brisbane, this noted big-game performer will be a key to his team’s chances.

13. Isaah Yeo: In career-best form and when the next Kangaroos team is selected, he will be giving opposite number Cameron Murray a run for his money for the No.13 jersey.

Match Highlights: Storm v Panthers

14. Tyrone May: Returned to the fray last week after a knee injury and will be looking to erase the memories of the 2020 grand final when he played out of position in the centres.

15. Scott Sorensen: Has been a quiet achiever for the Panthers this year, providing solid minutes from the bench.

16. Spencer Leniu: Gets his shot at a premiership after missing last year's decider when he was among the extended reserves. Has averaged 82 metres per game in 19 appearances this season.

11. Viliame Kikau: Overcame an ankle injury to play against Melbourne and could again be used off the bench.

17. Liam Martin: Started against the Storm in the second row and it would be no surprise to see the NSW forward get a go in the run-on side again.


18. Brent Naden: Last week's 18th man and a member of the 2020 grand final side who will be ready to take the field if called upon.


1. Blake Taaffe: The rookie halfback has made a great fist of the fullback role since Latrell Mitchell’s suspension and will again be tested by Nathan Cleary’s towering bombs.

2. Alex Johnston: The NRL’s leading try scorer, he notched another two in the preliminary final win over Manly.

3. Dane Gagai: Returning to Newcastle next season, the Queensland veteran is a critical member of South Sydney’s potent left edge.

4. Campbell Graham: Had a try denied against Manly but was not going to be denied a second time.

Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Sea Eagles

5. Jaxson Paulo: Light on experience but big on talent, he touched down twice against the Sea Eagles and has done well this season in place of injured veteran Josh Mansour.

6. Cody Walker: One of the NRL’s most dynamic attacking players and one of the five contenders named for the Dally M Medal, he may have to shoulder more of the kicking load due to Adam Reynolds’s groin problem.

7. Adam Reynolds: Wild horses won’t stop the future Bronco from making his farewell appearance for the Rabbitohs but how badly will his groin injury affect his performance?

8. Mark Nicholls: The journeyman prop is set to be rewarded with a contract extension and Souths will rely on his work in the middle to shore up their defence.

9. Damien Cook: He racked up more than 100 metres last Friday and when the NRL’s fastest hooker gets his running game going, the Bunnies rarely lose.

Benji's overlooked resilience his proudest trait

10. Tevita Tatola: Another unheralded but important member of South Sydney’s pack and one of the main reasons why their forwards have won more battles than they’ve lost in 2021.

11. Keaon Koloamatangi: A rising star of the NRL and you can see by his recent form why NSW coach Brad Fittler brought him into Blues camp this season to get a taste of the representative arena.

12. Jaydn Su’A: On his way to St George Illawarra, the Queensland representative has bounced back after a mid-season form slump.

13. Cameron Murray: Consistently one of South Sydney’s best with damaging runs in attack and heavy hits in defence despite being one of the smaller middle forwards in the Telstra Premiership.

Emotional scenes as Marshall and Rabbitohs celebrate post-match

14. Benji Marshall: Has indicated this week that he may yet go around again in 2022 but if he does decide to bow out, what better way than with a second premiership ring, 16 years after starring in the Wests Tigers’ 2005 triumph.

15. Jacob Host: Yet another no-nonsense forward, the kind that Wayne Bennett-coached teams always possess, the former Dragon can fill a role in the middle or on the edge.

16. Thomas Burgess: Although now in the veteran class, he still has plenty of power in his legs and an ability to cause carnage through the middle of the ruck.

17. Jai Arrow: Many eyebrows were raised when Wayne Bennett used their star recruit as an interchange player but the former Titan has thrived in the role and still usually plays big minutes despite sitting out the opening exchanges.


19. Patrick Mago: Last week's 18th man and performed strongly in 11 games this season. Plenty of size about him and a more than useful forward back-up.


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