Ivan Cleary lauds Souths' key danger men

·2-min read

Whether it's a tactic to take the focus off his Penrith team or fire them up, Ivan Cleary spent much of his Thursday morning press conference praising South Sydney duo Latrell Mitchell and Lachlan Ilias.

The sides meet in Saturday's preliminary final, with Cleary much keener to discuss the form of Souths fullback Mitchell than his own team's enforced changes.

"Latrell's a superstar and he has a huge influence on their team," Cleary said.

"They've had a great season Souths, in so many ways they were up against it.

"He (Mitchell) is a dangerous talent, he's a bit of a talisman for their team.

"I think it's great for the game that you guys are all talking about Latrell.

"He's a genuine superstar and he brings a lot of interest to the game."

Cleary was less inclined to discuss his side's changes when asked about the likely switch of wings for Brian To'o.

The diminutive flyer flagged earlier this week he will move to the left flank following a suspension for Taylan May, with Charlie Staines coming onto the right wing.

Cleary said he wasn't "going to discuss selections" when probed about the move, but the likely thought process is to get To'o returning the ball early in the tackle count.

Halfback Ilias is Souths' primary kicker and stationed on their right side, with To'o's strong carries vital to getting their sets started well.

Ilias has looked solid after replacing Adam Reynolds earlier this year but Cleary lauded the ease in which he became a permanent fixture for Souths.

"I think he's done an amazing job," Cleary added.

"He's filled some really big shoes and it seems like he has only got better and Souths have done a really good job with him.

"You have your ups and downs. He doesn't overplay his hand, kicks well, runs, defends well, he's a good player. We have to be watching him."