Hetherington, Schiller set for finals clash of cousins

Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS

Few names are more synonymous with Canberra than Brett Mullins but the champion fullback will be just as pleased if Newcastle win the sides' elimination final.

Mullins has a nephew on each team with Jack Hetherington of Newcastle and James Schiller from the Raiders set to face off in a clash of cousins on Sunday.

Middle forward Hetherington has cemented his status as a genuine first-grader this season, shaking off his reputation for making dangerous tackles and playing all nine matches of the Knights' current winning streak.

"I'm just trying to play consistently," Hetherington told AAP.

"Obviously staying away from being suspended and just doing my job for the team and trying to be a player that people want to play with."

Injury and illness have restricted Schiller to only three games in 2023 and his chances of meeting his cousin for a fairytale final originally appeared low.

But when Sebastian Kris was suspended for his spear tackle in round 27, coach Ricky Stuart called Schiller onto the wing for his second NRL match against Hetherington.

"Earlier in the year we played each other and I'm pretty sure my first run he folded me," Schiller told AAP.

"It'll be weird but I think it's a really heart-warming moment that we get to play a final against each other.

"It's a good excuse for family members to come and watch because they've got someone on each side to support."

The divided allegiances will extend to Mullins, a former Raiders teammate of both Stuart and Jack's father Brett Hetherington.

The trio played in the Raiders' most recent premiership victory in 1994, in a career-best season for Mullins still regarded as one of the finest-ever from an individual player.

But the chance for the Raiders to return deep into the finals won't sway Mullins from cheering Hetherington just as loudly as Schiller.

"I just hope they both play well, that's all I'm worried about," Mullins told AAP.

"A draw would be lovely but that won't happen.

"As long as they both have a good game, whoever wins wins."

Mullins congratulated his nephews on their imminent finals debuts but won't be calling up with any words of wisdom from his two premiership seasons with Canberra and the Sydney Roosters.

"They've got enough coaches and everyone else in their ear. I'll let them go out and play their footy," he said.

"These last few years have been pretty hectic for (Hetherington), in and out (of teams), but this year he's knuckled down. It's good to see him playing week in and week out.

"There's a lot of pressure on (Schiller), coming into a semi-final, being thrown in after Kris got suspended. It'll be a big ask for him.

"He's got a level head on him so he'll relish it and put his best foot forward."