Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler and Nine experts pick their winners

NRL

Rugby league great Brad Fittler says Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is “playing shenanigans” with his team ahead of this week’s grand final rematch against Souths.

The mind games have already begun between the two sides, with Jai Arrow speaking earlier in the week about how Souths would target Nathan Cleary in his first match back from shoulder surgery.

The Panthers have won 18 consecutive games at BlueBet Stadium and will start heavy favourites, having also won six of their last seven matches against Souths.

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While Cleary stole most of the headlines after being named for the first time in 2022, Fittler focused on two other Penrith players who are also returning to the side this week.

“I looked at the extended bench, there’s Liam Martin and James Fisher-Harris,” Fittler told Wide World of Sports’ Freddy & Joey’s Tips.

“If they play, I think Penrith wins.

“I’m going to say Ivan might be playing shenanigans, and they’ll play, and Penrith wins.”

Scroll below for the current leaderboard and Round 4 tips by Johns, Fittler and all Nine’s expert tipsters!

Fittler said the return of Cleary will be a good opportunity to gauge where his opposite number, Lachlan Ilias, is at, having played just a handful of matches in his NRL career.

“It will be a good game for the young halfback, Lachlan Ilias, doing a great job and this is a real test for him,” he explained.

Andrew Johns added: “Nathan’s back, that’s a huge boost, Panthers (to win) just.”

Stream the NRL Premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

Cleary’s return to partner Jarome Luai in the halves makes an already formidable Penrith team even more dangerous, given they’ve won 93 per cent of matches with those two on the field.

“If you want to have that pack mentality that will be everyone’s job to rough up their halves,” Arrow said earlier this week.

“They’re two quality players who have showed over the past three years why they’re the best side (over that time).

A loss would leave Souths six points adrift of Penrith on the competition ladder, with just one win from four matches. However, the Rabbitohs do face what appears to be an easier run over the next month, at least on paper.

They’ll play St George Illawarra, Bulldogs, West Tigers and Manly, all teams currently sitting below Souths on the table.

Andrew Johns: Titans, Knights, Panthers, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Storm, Eels

Brad Fittler: Titans, Sharks, Panthers, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Storm, Eels

Paul Gallen: Titans, Sharks, Panthers, Warriors, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Storm, Eels

Darren Lockyer: Titans, Sharks, Panthers, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Storm, Eels

Wally Lewis: Titans, Sharks, Panthers, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Storm, Eels

Billy Slater: Titans, Sharks, Panthers, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Storm, Eels

Michael Chammas: Titans, Sharks, Panthers, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Storm, Dragons

David Middleton: Titans, Sharks, Panthers, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Storm, Eels

Peter Psaltis: Titans, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Broncos, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Storm, Eels

Mat Thompson: Titans, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Warriors, Sea Eagles, Cowboys, Storm, Eels

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