Take your seats for tonight?s 'Sawty v Bowra' battle
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
EVEN on a stage as large as a NRL Preliminary Final, Group 2 fans can look forward to watching a mini-local battle take place in the backline at Telstra Stadium tonight.
Melbourne Storm's Greg Inglis facing up against St George/Illawarra fullback Clint Greenshields can almost be taken as a clash between Bowraville and Sawtell when you take their respective junior days into account.
In fact Bowraville, can lay claim to having a foot in both camps tonight as Dragon forward Matt Bickerstaff also grew up as a Tiger when he was a lad.
As a former Panther, Greenshields has been turning heads over the past couple of months with his sure handling and tackling.
His pass to Brett Morris which opened the Dragons' scoring last week was possibly the pass of the season.
The fullback is quick to admit that he's copped a fair bit of ribbing from the group during this week for it.
"We watched a little bit of video earlier on in the week and a few of the boys gave me a hard time for it," he said.
"A couple gave me a pat on the back as well but I was lucky to get the pass away actually."
Greenshields is aware that Inglis is a fellow local junior and the star centre's impressive form this year has meant the Dragon has taken more than a fleeting interest in the young Storm superstar.
"When he started I made some some inquiries about him obviously as he's from the local group which is good to see," Greenshields said.
"He's one of the most elusive attacking players in the NRL at the moment and if he's fully fit we'll have to watch him closely.
"Saying that though, I've got full confidence in whoever it is that's marking up against him. A guy like 'Coops' (Matt Cooper) is the best defensive centre in the comp."
Inglis says that he is fit after missing the qualifying final a fortnight ago with an achilles injury and that he's keen to find the form that's seen him score 17 tries in 17 games this season as well as make his State of Origin debut for Queensland.
"The achilles is fine," he added.
"I haven't done a hell of a lot with it, just been keeping on top of it. It just needed a lot of icing and physio work and rest."
As the minor premiers, Inglis is surprised that all of a sudden the Storm are the outsiders with the bookies to win this year's title and that St George have been made favourites.
"We're on target, we know where we're headed," he said.
"We didn't really have a week off last week, we actually had a hit out and trained hard so we still got the muscles moving.
"We're ready to go."