With a few new faces, both on the field and off it, Michael Maguire has made a mini clean out at Redfern as the Rabbitohs try to bounce back from a horror 2016.
Last season placing
League: 12th – Failed to make the finals.
A plethora of injuries and ill-discipline halted the Rabbitohs’ progress mid-year after a strong start to the season, which was most notable with a 9-game losing streak from Rounds 13 to 21. With the acquisition of a few signings mixed with experience and youth, they’ll be looking to come back into the winners’ circle they were so used to being part of.
With an already strong looking core, the Bunnies have given former Tigers hooker Robbie Farah salvation after a troubled 18 months in Concord. Looking to rejuvenate his career, Farah had a strong showing in last week’s Charity Shield and is on track to starting against his former club in Round 1, however he will have competition from incumbent Damien Cook, who will be pushing him for a jersey.
Injury prone forwards Robbie Rochow and Anthony Cherrington also join the club to add depth to the side, as well as Luke Kelly who is a solid option in the halves should injury strike. Youngsters Braidon Burns, Robert Jennings, Connor Tracey (out for the season) and Tyrell Fuimaono have arrived in a bid to kickstart their careers, and will get their chance at some point in the season.
The Rabbitohs will be looking to work off the good form they showed in the last month of last season’s competition where they won their last four games with a near full strength roster, and the likes of Angus Crichton, Hymel Hunt, Zane Musgrove and Cody Walker will be champing at the bit to improve off their first full years in the NRL.
Adam Reynolds: After tasting Origin in 2016, Rabbitohs fans are hoping the premiership-winning halfback can shake off his recent injuries and build off his already stellar game. With one of, if not the best, kicking games in the competition, Reynolds will be looking to bring in some running to his arsenal. His combination with five-eighth Cody Walker is one of the most symbiotic in the competition, and the inclusion of Robbie Farah could take him to a new level.
Sam Burgess: While he didn’t quite replicate the form that helped the Rabbitohs to a Grand Final in 2014, Sam Burgess’ impact on the team was still quite influential. No thanks to a huge injury toll that forced the club to maximise their secondary salary cap spending, Burgess was forced to be a one man forward pack, but with the likes of the aforementioned Robbie Rochow and Anthony Cherrington, there will be plenty of depth and size for the Bunnies to help their talisman get the job done up the middle.
Robbie Farah: Some may question the absence of Greg Inglis on this list, but we saw on Sunday that the team can get the job done without his presence, at least against the lower-ranked sides. I truly believe Farah’s form will dictate where the side goes this year, if he combines well with the forwards and halves, particularly Adam Reynolds, they could very well make the finals. If for some reason, he does end up being a flop, the side could see the same dismal results as last season. Although I am tipping him to flourish now that he’ll have a lot less responsibility on his shoulders, especially in a more experienced outfit.
Story of 2017
The more I see of this team the more excited I get to think that they could make the finals, the only thing stopping them I believe is an injury crisis as well as the quality of other sides.
With a very tricky draw, paired up with a lot of risky signings, the Rabbitohs will be a team to watch this year because they very well could end up anywhere.
The experience and spine of the team is one of the most exciting in the competition, with fullback Greg Inglis gearing back into form, excitement machine Cody Walker and the general Adam Reynolds in the halves and of course the creative and crafty Robbie Farah (or Damien Cook) at hooker.
Robbie Farah isn’t the only player to be excited about either, as young guns Burns, Jennings and Fuimaono are big prospects and we already got a taste of them in the Charity Shield, and let’s not forget the young guys from last year, Musgrove, Crichton, Hunt and Aaron Gray, pending injury.
I’m hoping to see the Rabbitohs not only play an efficient style of footy, but also an exciting one. Since they won the 2014 Premiership they’ve been rightly accused of playing safe and boring footy, and at times was very detrimental to them. If they can fix up their ill-discipline (Burgess bros. I’m looking at you) and add another string to their bow in attack, they can be a very exciting and efficient footy team.
I truly think at their best Souths can make the top 4, but realistically they’re just a little off from there, as there’s still plenty of improvement to be made. I am however comfortable in giving them a top 8 finish.
Top Try Scorer: Alex Johnston
Top Points Scorer: Adam Reynolds
Player of the Year: Adam Reynolds