Milne ready for Cleary's bomb initiation

·2-min read

Taane Milne has vowed to be ready for Nathan Cleary's aerial assault, desperate to avoid becoming another player to fall victim to the Penrith halfback this year.

Milne is South Sydney's one certain starting winger for Saturday night's preliminary final, with Alex Johnston still in a race against time to beat a hip-flexor injury.

Fresh off a double against Cronulla on Saturday night, this weekend's match will mark the biggest of Milne's career after he sat out last year's run to the grand final.

And in Cleary, he will face his greatest test.

Milne has never previously had to field one of Cleary's kicks, having played centre in his previous outings against the Panthers.

But he is well aware of what the Penrith maestro can produce with the boot.

He terrorised Parramatta's right winger Waqa Blake in Penrith's qualifying-final win, with the Eels flyer fumbling three of his kicks, leading to two tries.

"It's not just last week," Milne said.

"He's got all the tricks in his bag. We've just got to be ready and prepare this week.

"Like every other week, we'll analyse them and just focus on our own game, so I'm pretty confident we'll sort it out."

An honest Milne was the first to admit he had let the Rabbitohs down in the opening week of the finals, when sin-binned twice in the win over the Sydney Roosters.

But he is eager to avoid any similar feelings of regret after this Saturday.

The 27-year-old said he would spend extra time at training this week under the high ball, trying to find a way to replicate the pressure that comes from one of the most potent boots in the competition.

"That's obviously a strong point of (Cleary)'s game. We're just going to have to take it how it is," Milne said.

"He can chuck them up there and we'll see how I go.

"We train every day to be a footy player, and that's what you got to do. You've got to catch bombs.

"At the end of the day, that's my job. I'll be doing the best I can to catch the bombs."

Milne also said Souths' pressure on Cleary in his kicking game would be crucial, with several Parramatta players conceding they had let Blake down in this area in their loss to the Panthers.

Penrith's tactics to protect their lethal kicker from charging Rabbitohs forwards were a major talking point when the teams met in last year's finals.

That area of the game is certain to come under scrutiny again this weekend.

"We'll see how (Cleary) goes anyway, he's going to have to worry about the kick pressure as well," Milne said.

"Teams do that with every every kicker. It's an important part of the game."