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Manly clash will be like Origin: McQueen

South Sydney back-rower Chris McQueen is expecting a State of Origin-like encounter when the Rabbitohs take on Manly in Gosford on Friday.
Manly clash will be like Origin: McQueen
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Aug 15 AAP - South Sydney back-rower Chris McQueen is expecting a State of Origin-like encounter when the Rabbitohs take on Manly in Gosford on Friday.

After a season where they have looked grand final certainties, Michael Maguire's side have hit a sticky patch with successive defeats to North Queensland and Melbourne knocking them off the top of the ladder.

Manly have won their last six and are the form team in the top eight having chalked up 225 points in their last half-a-dozen matches.

With Canterbury and the Sydney Roosters to play in their last three games, McQueen admitted Souths need to win at Bluetongue Stadium to ease the pressure going into the business end of the season.

However, he said the return of Greg Inglis and John Sutton will give the side a huge lift.

"All our games are important now, we hadn't lost two games in a row until last week and don't want to let it become three," McQueen said.

"We have a tough month of football coming up. All the teams are playing for something. It's going to be a real indication of where we are."

Souths prevailed 20-12 in an outstanding but spiteful encounter at Brookvale in April that saw Inglis dumped on his head twice by Richie Fa'aoso - earning him an eight-week suspension.

Steve Matai was also banned for one game following a careless high tackle on George Burgess and Brett Stewart also was charged for an elbow on Souths winger Andrew Everingham.

And McQueen, who debuted for Queensland this year, said the game was an early taster of what he could expect in Origin.

"It was the hardest game all year," he said.

"It was 2-0 at halftime and neither team wanted to crack. We can expect the same thing this week.

"It was easily the most intense game I have played in outside of Origin, and it will be again."

The absence of Sam Burgess for Souths following his 'squirrel grip' on Will Chambers last week is offset by an injury to Manly back-rower Anthony Watmough.

However, McQueen said the return of Inglis, with Nathan Merritt moving back to the wing, is a massive boost.

"Merro is a great fullback, but he is a different kind of fullback to Greggy," he said.

"(Inglis) adds intimidation factor. In addition to being big, fast and strong I don't know if there's anyone in the whole world who brings the ball back better than he does.

"We've got the depth to cover Sam, we have a big pack and it won't make that much difference."

Veteran prop Roy Asotasi said the team's tough run home before the finals is a blessing and exactly what they need if they are to have any hope of ending the 43-year wait for a premiership.

"We couldn't have asked for a better draw," Asotasi said.

"It will leave us strong heading into the finals. Unfortuantely we've lost two in a row, but if we win on Friday then we are right back in form."


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