South Sydney: Rabbitohs set to target Nathan Cleary’s shoulder

Michael Holland

South Sydney forward Jai Arrow says the Rabbitohs are ready to welcome back Penrith ace Nathan Cleary with a bang and will test out his rebuilt shoulder when the two sides clash on Friday night.

Souths and Penrith will go head-to-head in a rematch of the 2021 NRL grand final and it is gearing up to be a bruising encounter. Arrow and Viliami Kikau have history but stopping Cleary will top the Rabbitohs’ to-do list.

Star halfback Cleary has not played since the grand final after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction. Cleary could have been ready for round one but the Panthers opted to go with a cautious approach.

The season will be long and hard and Penrith did not want to rush him back in. The New South Wales representative is now set to return and  can expect a hot reception.

South Sydney have Cleary plan

Souths know how important he is to everything Penrith do. In fairness Sean O’Sullivan has done a great job when filling Cleary’s boots in the opening three rounds.

The Panthers have won all three games in pretty convincing fashion, but face their biggest test yet. So the return of Cleary is timely.

Arrow himself has come back from a shoulder reconstruction in the past and knows what it feels like. So the Rabbitohs forward says he and his teammates will be targeting Cleary in more ways than one.

“We will definitely want to test his shoulder out and test him defensively,” Arrow said. “He is obviously a quality player, you cannot take that away from him and he will no doubt do his job.

“But it is hard coming back after a surgery and trying to find your groove. Especially when we have had a month of footy so I have no doubts we will try and test him out.”

O’Sullivan backs Cleary return

Meanwhile O’Sullivan is delighted to see Cleary return even if he will lose his place in the side. The former Warriors star is now set for a bench role at best but that is fine by him. He is just grateful to be at a club like Penrith and will play whatever role is required.

And despite Souths being out for Cleary, O’Sullivan says his teammate will not be fazed.

“I’m stoked and even though it means my role will change now I knew that when I first signed here,” O’Sullivan said. “Nath’s confident and ready to go. Taking the extra three weeks will hold him in good stead for this weekend.”