The Newsroom previews the 2015 NRL teams. Today, the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs enter this season with a massive target on their back. For the first time in over 40 years, they begin a season as defending champions. Their off season has been plagued by off field controversy and a couple of key departures. However, last week they proved they are still going to be a threat with a 39-0 demolition of English side St Helens. Do they have what it takes to go back to back? Or will the pressure prove too much for Michael Maguire’s men?
Last season: 3rd (Champions)
Ins: Glenn Stewart (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Tim Grant (Penrith Panthers), Cody Walker (Melbourne Storm), Sione Masima, Scott Sorensen (Cronulla Sharks), Daryl Millard (Catalans, English Super League)
Outs: Sam Burgess, Ben Te’o (Rugby Union), Luke Burgess (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles), Beau Champion (Parramatta Eels), Apisai Koroisau (Penrith Panthers), Nathan Merritt (retired), Joe Picker (retired), Lote Tuqiri (released)
Strengths: Their star power. You only have to look at their roster to tell that this is a very talented and dangerous squad. Greg Inglis is one of the best players in the competition and is backed up by halves pairing Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds. On his best day Issac Luke can be the best hooker in the game while George Burgess, John Sutton and new recruit Glenn Stewart give the Bunnies a big and agile back row. That is enough intimidation to scare most teams and should be their advantage yet again this season and the fact that they now have a title under their belt will only boost their confidence.
Weaknesses: Complacency. They looked a little bit rusty in the recent Charity Shield against the Dragons and come State of Origin time they will miss a few of their key players. They suffered from this last year so it will be vital for Maguire to have worked on this in the off season.
Key Player: Greg Inglis. Could it be anyone else? The 28-year-old has been given the responsibility of leading the team this year but the Queensland representative should strive in that position. He has scored 47 tries in 84 games for the historic Redfern club and his side will be relying on him to reproduce some of the magical moments he showed last season. His possession of speed, skill, strength and ability makes him one of the deadliest assets in the competition.
Coach: Michael Maguire has only been coaching at a professional level for five years. Yet he already has two titles to his name. The 41-year-old has transformed this South Sydney outfit from pretenders to premiership winners. One of the smartest tacticians in the game, Souths are guaranteed to be around the top four under his guidance.
Prediction: 1st. They have lost Sam Burgess but still have a lot of talent at their disposal.
– Chris Matthews-Darby
Top photo from Andrew Tallon’s Flickr photostream.