Record: Played 24 – Won 9 – Lost 15
Ladder Position: 12th
Player of the Year: Sam Burgess
South Sydney’s season was book-ended by some terrific rugby league, it was just a pity that the middle so bloody awful. The Rabbitohs fell away badly at the end of 2015, and the worry was that would continue in 2016. It didn’t for the first two weeks as Souths destroyed the Roosters and Newcastle, but did after those early wins. The season turned around against Melbourne with a narrow loss in Round 22, and that jump in quality performance continued with four straight wins to end the year season. In between Round 3 and Round 23 there were just another three victories, and some of the football on offer was ordinary at best, and dreadful if being honest.
WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO INGLIS?
The single biggest disappointment of the Rabbitohs 2016 season was their star man and captain Greg Inglis. He looked disinterested for a large section of the season, and was moved around the Souths backline in an attempt to spark him into action. Origin could be used as an excuse, but the rot had set in before the interstate rivalry kicked off. The brain snap of kicking for a field goal against the Dragons in the wet from 40 metres out with seconds to play when down by 2 points just about summed up the contribution he made during the middle of the season.
His sudden turnaround late in the season was almost as frustrating as it made you wonder where the hell it had been all season for the Rabbitohs. Hopefully combining that late season form and his recent deal to stay at the club until 2020 will see the real Greg Inglis take the competition by storm in 2017.
SAM BURGESS BEST, CODY WALKER BETTER
Sam Burgess may have won Souths player of the Year and Ash Taylor Dally M Rookie of the Year, but in my opinion Cody Walker should have won both.
Cody Walker was a revelation in 2016, but a man of such talent who had been limited to only second tier Intrust Super competitions at the age of 26 could be forgiven if he decided that the NRL had passed him by. Thankfully for Souths it didn’t. Playing all over the backline, Cody Walker made up for his lack of NRL experience by bringing his enthusiasm and skills to a side in desperate need of them. There were games in which he appeared to be the only one trying, and over the season can be one of only two players who can hold their head up high. Sam Burgess being the other. The fact that Souths almost lost him to the Broncos before doing the deal was flabbergasting, and worrying that things were getting as bad off the field as on it.
MICHAEL MAGUIRE CAN’T AFFORD ANOTHER MID SEASON SLUMP
Michael Maguire must have been worried in August about his future at the Rabbitohs, and should have been. From the 19th May South Sydney didn’t win again until August 13.
It wasn’t just the losing, Souths fans have been used to that over the years, but it was the dreadful style of rugby league that was played. And the appearance of being unable to motivate some of the bigger names. Whether there was tension behind the scenes between players and coach is hard to confirm, but he can thank those players and their late season revival for giving him another crack in 2017. If 2016 is repeated in 2017, then it will be hard to see Souths justifying giving him another season in charge. Premiership credit only goes so far.
2017 GAINS & LOSSES
2017 Gains: Braidon Burns (Penrith Panthers, 2018), Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers, 2018), Tyrell Fuimaono (Parramatta Eels, 2018), Brett Greinke (Mid Season: Brisbane Broncos, 2017), Robert Jennings (Penrith Panthers, 2018), Robbie Rochow (Newcastle Knights, 2017), Connor Tracey (Cronulla Sharks, 2018)
2017 Losses: Kirisome Auva’a (released), Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors), Paul Carter (Sydney Roosters), Brock Gray (Sydney Roosters), Chris Grevsmuhl (Penrith Panthers), Tom Hughes, Luke Keary (Sydney Roosters), Cameron McInnes (St George Illawarra Dragons), Michael Oldfield (Penrith Panthers)
Re-Signed: Jason Clark (2018), Jack Gosiewski (2017), Greg Inglis (2020), Cody Walker (2019)
Off Contract 2016: Hymel Hunt, Samisoni Langi, Ed Murphy, Zane Musgrove, Patrice Siolo, Siosifa Talakai, Tautalatasi Tasi, Riley Travers, Cheyne Whitelaw
2017 Coach: Michael Maguire