South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett is tipping the NRL leaders will have as many as half a dozen players involved in the State of Origin series opener.
And with that bold statement, Bennett has ruled out complacency being a factor for the Rabbitohs in Saturday night's clash with Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium.
With Bennett's men enjoying sole possession of top spot after nine wins from 10 starts, a pre-Origin lull wouldn't surprise.
But the wily super-coach is instead dangling the representative carrot under his charges' noses as a form of motivation to keep the league leaders firing.
"There would be plus-three, I reckon. Could be five or six, but certainly three," Bennett said when asked on Friday how many stars he expected to lose for Origin I in Brisbane on June 5.
"No teams have been picked and it's just another game in the season,.
"If they're on the fringe of selection or they think they're in the team, then they know a good performance is only going to help and bad performance is not."
If Bennett is right, the Rabbitohs will be without Blues certainty Damien Cook Queensland three-quarter Dane Gagai and likely NSW debutant back-rower Cameron Murray for next week's round 12 meeting with Parramatta.
In-form halves Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker and exciting young winger Campbell Graham are also in the mix for NSW call-ups on Sunday night.
Blues coach Brad Fittler appears to be leaning towards retaining Nathan Cleary as his No.7 ahead of Reynolds, but Bennett believes Walker, the competition's leading try-scorer in 2019, has done enough to at least earn a bench spot.
"He's played fullback. I think he's played in the centres, he's played five-eighth. I think he's certainly got plenty of versatility," said the former long-time Maroons mentor.
Fresh from masterminding Souths' commanding win over his former Brisbane outfit this month, Bennett is expecting ex-Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire to have the Tigers similarly primed to deliver against his old club.
"I'm expecting them to play well. The coach spent a lot of time here and did a great job here and won a premiership," he said.
"I've been in that situation myself so he'll be wanting the Tigers to play well and pushing that barrow with them."
The veteran coach is also predicting ageless playmaker Benji Marshall to cause the Rabbitohs' defence some headaches.
"Benji's been a special player in our game for a long time and I remember when he was at the height of his playing, I just wanted to watch the Tigers play to watch him play," Bennett said.
"He's a little bit slower now, but he's a bit smarter so he'll bring the smarts tomorrow night, I've got no doubt about that."
STATS THAT MATTER
* The team leading at halftime has won the past 10 games between Souths and the Tigers, with all fixtures played at ANZ Stadium.
* Wayne Bennett has won 21 of 29 games (72.4 per cent) against the Tigers, his best record against any current team except Souths at 73.2 per cent.
* Victory for Souths would see the Rabbitohs become only the fifth team in the NRL era to win 10 of their first 11 games in a season.
© AAP 2019