TRANS-TASMAN PREVIEWS | We've got a look over and made our picks for the opening night of the rep ro...
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Headlined by the likes of San Burgess, Roy Asotasi and David Taylor,
the South Sydney forward pack of 2010 was meant to be the catalyst for
finals glory. However, much to the dismay of Rabbitohs supporters, a
season of inconsistency and often paper thin defence left the club one
spot shy of the top eight.
Looking ahead to 2011, it's evident that Souths' strength again lie from jerseys eight to thirteen. In hooker Issac Luke, the Bunnies have one of the most dynamic dummy half runners in the NRL. Throw in veterans Luke Stuart and Asotasi up front, the explosive duo of Taylor and Burgess and the workaholic Ben Lowe at lock and you should have the recipe for success. The challenge for Souths will be to overcome the problems that crippled their chances last year.
The halves pairing of John Sutton (pictured) and Chris Sandow are the picture of inconsistency. Both are far from rookies, with 132 and 60 NRL appearances under their belt respectively, but neither are yet to fully stamp their authority on the side.
The Rabbitohs also conceded the third most points in 2010 and defence definitely shapes as their achilles heel again this year. The early signs aren't encouraging either, with fourteen tries already leaked in their two trial matches this pre-season. Looking at the silver lining, John Lang still has three weeks to work with his chargers before their round one clash with Sydney on March 11.
Aside from those two issues, Souths should be primed to make a run for the top eight. A strong forward pack coupled with speed and size out wide will lead to points. The true test for the Rabbitohs is showing the required mental and physical toughness to defend their try line. But there's no doubt that this squad has the best chance of making an impact on the competiton since re-admission.
Player to Watch - Greg Inglis
South Sydney have opened the cheque book in recent seasons but no signings have come close to the coup surrounding Greg Inglis. The Rabbitohs snared the representative centre from under the noses of the Brisbane Broncos, with Inglis leaving behind a handshake agreement to join the club. However criticism over his fitness has been unrelenting (with a physique more akin to former Bunny Owen Craigie it's not hard to see why) and it's obvious that Inglis must shape up to return to his peak. Hopefully for his sake, the Rabbitohs' and Queensland's, South Sydney is the place to do it.
Rookie to Watch - Dylan Farrell
The departure of centres Colin Best, Beau Champion and Jamie Simpson gives Dylan Farrell a prime chance to cement his place in the Bunnies backline. The 19-year old played five NRL games last season, scoring five tries including an eye-catching hattrick on debut against Wests Tigers. Farrell had a stellar 2010 which culminated in recieving the Rugby League Players' Association Toyota Cup Player of the Year award as well as selection in the NYC team of the season.
Signings: Greg Inglis (Melbourne Storm), George Burgess (Bradford Bulls, ESL)
Losses: Colin Best (Cronulla Sharks), Jaiman Lowe (Melbourne Storm), Luke Capewell (Gold Coast Titans), Beau Champion (Melbourne Storm), Jamie Simpson (Huddersfield Giants, ESL)
Predicted best lineup
1. Rhys Wesser 2. Nathan Merritt 3. Greg Inglis 4. Dylan Farrell 5. Fetuli Talanoa 6. John Sutton 7. Chris Sandow 8. Luke Stuart 9. Issac Luke 10. Roy Asotasi 11. Dave Taylor 12. Sam Burgess 13. Ben Lowe
Interchange: 14. Michael Crocker 15. Eddy Pettybourne 16. Scott Geddes 17. Dave Tyrell