SOUTH Sydney and Brisbane were keeping the identity of their respective captains a mystery before their big clash in Sydney tonight.
In a twist of fate both Greg Inglis and Corey Parker were charged after Wednesday night’s State of Origin game, Parker missing the first game in his 300-plus career from suspension for an elbow on NSW fullback James Tedesco.
Neither club would publicly reveal their replacements, with many believing Parker’s fill-in could be Andrew McCullough, or even Kiwi enforcer Adam Blair, who coach Wayne Bennett handed the reins to last month.
“No, I’m not, I won’t be,” said McCullough after training yesterday when congratulated by the media, who expected he’d get the captaincy nod.
“I’m just filling into today because a few of the boys have had a big week with Origin.”
Normally coach Wayne Bennett would face the media but he handed over training to his assistant Stephen Kearney so he could attend a funeral.
McCullough said Parker would be a “massive loss” for Brisbane.
“He is our captain and he puts his hand up every week. He also takes those tough, hard runs when we’re coming out of the back end of the field, which is something we’re going to miss.
“To play that many games in the forwards and never be suspended is pretty rare but that’s how it goes and someone has to fill the job he does for us.”
The Broncos have suffered a double blow, also losing fellow State of Origin star Matt Gillett, but the rest of their Origin players, Darius Boyd, Corey Oates and Sam Thaiday, are all expected to take the field.
Souths will be hard hit losing Inglis, especially given his form in the third Origin in Sydney, which suggested he was ready to play his best football this season and ignite South Sydney’s charge towards the finals.
Inglis is a massive loss on a number of fronts but coach Michael Maguire was keeping his options open, with players like Dane Nielsen and Bryson Goodwin in the mix in a backline reshuffle.
The expected return of halfback Adam Reynolds could also help offset losing Inglis for three games after he was suspended for a shoulder charge on NSW opposite Josh Dugan, who suffered a broken jaw and will be out for up to six weeks.
Rabbitohs forward Nathan Brown meanwhile bristled at suggestions South Sydney’s season was done and dusted with just five wins from 16 games, leaving them in a precarious 12th place on the ladder, six points or three wins behind the eighth-placed St George-Illawarra.
“No, not at all,” Brown said.
“We’re staying very positive. The bye (last week) has done us good, we’ve freshened up and got plenty of energy.