“I would definitely be blown away,” says Turbo as he rates Souths’ rookie Grand Final No.1

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“I would definitely be blown away,” says Turbo as he rates Souths’ rookie Grand Final No.1

Dally M winner Tom Trbojevic, named this week’s NRL’s Fullback of the Year, has instilled great confidence in South South’s youngster Blake Taaffe as the Rabbitohs rookie prepares to break an NRL record at the Grand final.

Taaffe has come under immense pressure in the No. 1 jersey in the Souths since ‘Turbo’s’ State of Origin team-mate Latrell Mitchell was suspended over a hit on Joseph Manu van de Roosters.

Taaffe, 22, will only have his sixth first-class start and eighth NRL game in Sunday’s decider, making him the most inexperienced player in the NRL era to play in a grand final.

Trbojevic, who will be on hand at the game to pit some of his Blues teammates against each other, says he is impressed with the way Taaffe has made the step forward.

“It will be very difficult, but the way he plays, he hasn’t looked like that, so that’s an honor for him,” Trbojevic told The Roar.

“The number of first-class matches he had played before entering that arena would definitely blow my mind. He is doing an exceptional job and I wish him all the best on Sunday.

“It’s different for everyone. I am someone who was always very nervous and still gets nervous before competitions.

“If you just start playing footy as fast as you can, you have the best chance of playing well.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“He certainly does. Doesn’t seem like he’s worried or holding back. He just goes out and does what he is good at and it works for him. He’s very quick moves around the pitch, he’s a very good footballer and fits very well in that Souths side. ”

Trbojevic says it will be a difficult few weeks for Mitchell.

“I think it would be very difficult to see your side play in a grand final, knowing that you would want to join them,” Trbojevic said.

“But Latrell will definitely do his best. They have a young fullback there who plays really good football to help out and the way Latrell trains is infectious. He’s definitely playing his part.”

Although Trbojevic had one of the best individual seasons ever in the NRL, he and Manly just missed the grand final.

“Yes, I am very disappointed,” he says. “It’s hard, you want to play this week. We were one game away. It’s tough, but that’s how it works: back to the drawing board and you can move on.”

There were, of course, plenty of good moments to think about, including his Dally M success.

“It was pretty special,” he said.

“You have to pinch yourself every time you think you are a Dally M winner. It’s so, so special, something I’ll always be proud of.

“I really enjoyed the year I had. Of course it was disappointing to end it last week, but that’s footy.”

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

His favorite moment came in round nine against the Warriors.

“It was my 100th game and the only game I’ve played at Brookie this year, and I had a lot of family and friends there who have been very good to me all my life,” he said.

The medal ceremony also buried some demons in a season that saw him undergo some serious self-assessment over his effort after injuring himself in an impromptu sprint race down Manly Corso.

“It was clearly not an ideal situation how it all turned out,” Trbojevic said.

“I had to change a few things to get more professional towards rugby league. It wasn’t easy and there was clearly a lot of stress at the time, not being able to play.

“I knew what had to be done and it set me on the path for what I could achieve this year.”

Trbojevic doesn’t care which team wins on Sunday, although he leans towards Penrith “because they probably deserve to win one after how good they’ve been over the years.

“Souths are playing exceptional football at the moment and it will be very close,” he added.

He is of course aware of the spoilsports on both sides with Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary “one of the best I’ve played with.

“He has a very smart head, is very professional and works extremely hard.”

“He always seems to be on and that’s a credit to him.

“His work ethic, not only his training but also his study and preparation for competitions, is second to none.

“And he’s a really good guy, very relaxed. Nothing really bothers him, he’s just a good person to be around. A lot of the guys from that Penrith side are on that Origin squad and they’re great guys and you can see why they enjoy each other’s company.”

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