The Courier-Mail

Souths may have looked gone – but GI is returning

- PETER BADEL

QUEENSLAND star Greg Inglis yesterday needed just three words to breathe life into South Sydney’s flatlining premiershi­p defence.

“I am back,” Inglis said with a smile.

Twenty-four hours after revelation­s of the secret son he fathered in 2010, the year Inglis reneged on joining the Broncos, the Souths ace stood front and centre at the NRL’s finals launch yesterday.

Inglis was in no mood to talk about private matters, but he is out to save splutterin­g Souths after being cleared to return from minor knee surgery.

As he stood alongside seven NRL finals combatants at the SCG, the 106kg fullback seemed as formidable as ever.

The only sign of surgery was a small piece of white tape stuck to the inside of his right knee.

It has been two weeks since Inglis had a meniscus tear repaired, but he believes he can reprise the form that inspired Souths’ title win last year – starting against the Sharks in Sunday’s eliminatio­n final.

“There was no question about me being back for the first week (of the finals),” said Inglis, who injured his knee in Souths’ 32-18 home loss to Canterbury in Round 24.

“Obviously last week (missing the 30-0 Roosters defeat) there was a bit of a question mark over it. We thought it was in the best interests of the team not to be a passenger, and come back 100 per cent fit.

“When I went and got scans everything came back and was found to be intact. But I knew straight away there was some- thing definitely going on because it was a different kind of pain I’ve never felt before.

“The knee is all fine now, the flexibilit­y is back there ... everything is back to normal.”

Rabbitohs fans can only hope the return of Inglis brings a sense of normality in their quest for back-to-back titles.

The premiers finished the regular season seventh and there is a prevailing sentiment the Rabbitohs are set to tumble out the back door after last round’s hammering by the Roosters at Allianz Stadium.

But Cronulla’s last-round 14-12 home loss to Manly has Inglis smelling blood.

Many have lost faith in the Rabbitohs, but the 28-year-old is determined to play a skipper’s knock.

“I feel fine and fresh,’’ Inglis said. ‘‘I have to make sure I do my job the best I can.

“We still have a strong belief that we’re capable of doing this (defending their title), but it’s in our hands, and we need to turn up in the right frame of mind to get the start going.

“There are no panic stations whatsoever, but there are no more chances from here on in.

“The Sharks are a highqualit­y side and they do play footy, so it’s time for the guys to step up and do their job.”

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