2015 Review: South Sydney Rabbitohs

Position: 7th, beaten in week one of the finals

Record (W-L-D): 13-12-0

Top Pointscorer: Adam Reynolds, 111 points

Top Tryscorer: Alex Johnston, 17

The reigning Premiers started the season with a comprehensive 36-6 victory over Brisbane Broncos and looked like firm favourites to defend their title. It wasn’t to be though as they struggled to keep up with the pace setters and were well beaten by Cronulla Sharks in the first week of the finals, ending their hopes of back-to-back Premierships.

There were some good results though, especially early on in the season, as they brushed aside Brisbane at the Suncorp before battling past Sydney Roosters a week later. They were impressive in big wins over New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights before their season ended poorly.

Souths particularly struggled without Adam Reynolds marshalling his troops as the halfback was injured in their 18-17 victory over Canterbury Bulldogs, as the head of James Graham collided with his knee during a field goal attempt. After that they lost three games on the bounce against North Queensland Cowboys, Cronulla and Canberra Raiders, with Reynolds missing all three games. They limped into the finals off the back of three heavy defeats, as the Bulldogs, Broncos and Roosters all gained revenge for defeats earlier in the season, with the Tri-colours punishing the Rabbitohs 30-0.

Alex Johnston was brilliant again in his second full season as he ran in 17 tries and topped the club’s try scoring charts, with his centre partner Dylan Walker also impressing throughout the year and contributing 13 tries of his own. Thomas Burgess made a name for himself as he emerged from the shadow of his twin George but ultimately their forward pack struggled to fill the void left by their older brother Sam, who switched codes and returned to England.

Michael Maguire has lost three big names for the 2016 season as Ben Lowe has retired, Glenn Stewart has moved to the Super League with Catalans Dragons after an early release and Issac Luke is returning home to New Zealand to link up with the Warriors. Stewart looked to be a solid replacement for Sam Burgess and he made a great impact at the beginning of the year, however his reoccurring injury problems hampered his season and his impact became less apparent in the latter stages of the competition. Luke will be a huge loss as the hard-hitting number nine has been a crucial part of the Sydney outfit since his debut in 2007 and he will be a tough player to replace.

As of yet the Rabbitohs have not added to their 2016 squad but will need a marquee hooker to come in and try to fill Luke’s boots. James Segeyaro would be a suitable replacement as the Penrith Panthers hooker has become one of the competitions best over the last two seasons, but Ivan Cleary will do all he can to keep the 24-year-old who has a year left on his contract.

All in all it has been a disappointing year which started with such promise, as they eased to World Club Challenge victory over St Helens and were almost perfect in their Round 1 win over Brisbane. They failed to keep up that level of performance though and if they are to return to glory next season they will need a few fresh faces to give them the lift they need, especially in the forward pack. If they can keep the likes of Greg Inglis and Reynolds fully fit then they will give themselves a chance of regaining their title in 2016.

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