Taaffe holds no fear of Cleary's bombs

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South Sydney rookie Blake Taaffe says he does not fear Nathan Cleary's high-hanging NRL bombs, simply stating it's his job to defuse them.

The Rabbitohs were giving little away about who would start at fullback against Penrith, with Cody Walker telling the media on Wednesday they would have to wait and see who would play there.

The Panthers are far from convinced the Rabbitohs will run out with Taaffe at the back for their NRL qualifying final, despite the 22-year-old being named in the No.1 jersey on Tuesday.

But if he does get the nod from coach Wayne Bennett, Taaffe will go in to Saturday's game with a self-assured approach.

"I've been playing fullback my whole life," he said.

"If he (Cleary) kicks bombs, which I'm sure he will, then I'm ready for the challenge."

Cleary has made no secret of his desire to target whoever plays at the back for Souths.

No less than five of his second-half bombs were either dropped or left to bounce in when the two teams met last month, and that was with the now suspended Latrell Mitchell at fullback.

But when asked if he'd spent more time under Adam Reynolds' kicks at training this week, Taaffe responded: "No

"I haven't changed anything.

"Look catching bombs at the end of the session is part of my ritual as a fullback, so I'm not trying to base my game on catching bombs.

"It's just part of my role and my job."

Taaffe's journey to Souths' No.1 jersey is one of family honour, after his grandfather Kevin Longbottom played fullback for the Rabbitohs in the 1960s, winning the 1967 grand final.

But Taaffe knows he has to be his own man in the finals, reminded by Mitchell that the best way to replace him is not to try and be him.

"I know I'm not the size of Latrell. I don't plan on being the size of Latrell. (He said) just be myself," Taaffe said.

"Don't get out there and try and be anyone else, stick to my strengths. Just don't overdo my role.

"I'm not going to go out there and try and set up 10 tries and score 10 tries."

It's a message Souths have carried to a man this week, confident their title hopes didn't disappear with Mitchell's season-ending ban.

"Last year we made it to a prelim without him and guys were writing us off left right and centre," star half Walker said.

"I know we can do it without him.

"A guy like Blake Taaffe has come into the group and we don't expect him to be Latrell Mitchell.

"He's quite dangerous young Taaffe, he's light on his feet and he's really quick.

"We trust him to do a job there if Wayne picks him there."

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