Many predict last year’s Grand Finalists to slide down the ladder in 2022, but losing big names aside there remains a quality squad that should be playing finals football at a minimum.
2022 RABBITOHS SQUAD
Jai Arrow, Zane Bijorac, Thomas Burgess, Jed Cartwright, Michael Chee-Kam, Damien Cook, Campbell Graham, Siliva Havili, Jacob Host, Lachlan Ilias, Alex Johnston, Terrell Kalo Kalo, Liam Knight, Keaon Koloamatangi, Peter Mamouzelos, Josh Mansour, Taane Milne, Latrell Mitchell, Davvy Moale, Cameron Murray, Mark Nicholls, Jaxson Paulo, Hame Sele, Blake Taaffe, Isaiah Tass, Tevita Tatola, Cody Walker.
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Isaiah Tass (Brisbane, 2022)
Michael Chee-Kam (Wests Tigers, 2022)
Siliva Havili (Canberra, 2022)
It’s slim picking for the Ins for the Rabbitohs in 2022, with some squad players added for depth, with the Raiders Silvia Havili the most likely to feature in round one.
For South Sydney it is more about who they have lost. Notably Adam Reynolds to the Broncos and Dane Gagai to Newcastle. Reynolds was a club legend who should have found a way to be kept, and Gagai will be an underrated loss as he approached his State of Origin form by the end of 2022.
Another loss is one of the players South Sydney signed for 2022 – Anthony Milford. The megabucks Broncos player was looking for salvation in Sydney this season, but legal problems have now stopped him from joining the Rabbitohs for 2022.
KEY PLAYEREmbed from Getty Images
Cody Walker is South Sydney’s key player heading into the 2022 season.
The Rabbitohs’ five eighth was simply sensational through most of last season, especially when the experiment of him playing at fullback was halted to let him return to his more natural surroundings. Case in point was his Dally M top five finish and glorious grand final try. We won’t mention the intercept.
He set himself a hard act to follow, but there are some things to consider, mainly the loss of Adam Reynolds. While Reynolds isn’t the electric player Cody Walker is, he is a steady hand with a brilliant kicking game. Walker’s halves partner this season looks to be Lachlan Ilias, who despite early signs being good, is still an NRL Rookie who Walker will have to gel with. And does Reynolds’ absence mean Cody Walker will feel more inclined to kick rather his usual scintillating running game? Ilias looks solid so far to be fair, so maybe it won’t impact at all.
In saying that, Cody Walker was still reasonably sharp in the Charity Shield, and will no doubt be at his cheeky, brilliant best for round one.
PLAYER TO WATCHEmbed from Getty Images
Lachlan Ilias is the player to watch in 2022 for South Sydney.
Souths fans worried about how Lachlan Ilias will go need only to cast their minds back a decade when in 2011 then halfback Chris Sandow left the Bunnies for Parramatta.
At the time it seemed like a big loss, given the electric and brave Chris Sandow’s contributions to the Rabbitohs.
But 2012 saw the arrival of Adam Reynolds in the halves, and two years came a long-awaited premiership. Within the next eleven seasons, the Souths junior had become the club’s all-time point scorer and led Souths to multiple finals appearances.
Lachlan Ilias has looked quite good in trials so far and appears ready to lead the club for another decade. No pressure then.
Broncos (A), Storm (A), Roosters (H), Panthers (A), Dragons (H), Bulldogs (H), Tigers (A), Sea Eagles (H), Broncos (H), Warriors (Magic Round), Raiders (H), Tigers (H), Titans (A), Dragons (A), Eels (H), Knights (A), Bulldogs (A), Storm (H), Sharks (A), Warriors (H), Eels (A), Panthers (H), Cowboys (H), Roosters (A)
After overachieving to a degree in 2021 by making the Grand Final and pushing Penrith all the way, many are predicting the Rabbitohs to fall down the order in 2022, and you can see reasons for it.
First, their coach for the last three seasons Wayne Bennett, has ended his tenure at Redfern and his departure has been bad news for the clubs he has left for the last decade.
Since Wayne Bennett left the Dragons in 2011, only one of his former sides have made the finals in the next three seasons after the Super Coach’s departure.
The average finishing position for the teams in the three post Bennett years is 13.3. That’s some heavy reading for Rabbitohs fans.
2022 head coach Jason Demetriou is certainly deserving of a chance to be in charge, after winning State Championships with clubs from both states, and serving as an assistant NRL coach in recent seasons.
The loss of Adam Reynolds is another key change which will contribute to the doomsayers’ downward predictions, but there are enough positives above to think that Souths will be OK in 2022.
Souths have rewarded Cameron Murray for loyalty and consistent performances in recent seasons with the captaincy in 2022, and it is an excellent replacement for Adam Reynolds.
The Rabbitohs still have a lot of the magic from last season with Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell, and Damien Cook, and have a great forward pack too.
But the overlying issue is that there are a lot bigger outs than ins for 2022, and with other top six teams from last season either looking much better for injuries in 2022 or on the improve in general, it is easy to predict South finishing position being lower than season, but surely, they have enough class to stay in the top eight.