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40 hours ago
Former South Sydney captain Bryan Fletcher can sympathise with the Rabbitohs early season jitters, but knows things can quickly change and has the premiership ring to prove it.
Fletcher fondly remembers the Sydney Roosters 2002 premiership victory, it was his final year at the NRL club before he jumped ship and joined the Bunnies.
Lost in the aftermath of the Bulldogs salary cap rorting is the adversity the Roosters overcame to reach the decider and it's a story which should inspire the struggling Rabbitohs.
The Roosters opened 2002 with a big win over Souths but lost their halfback Paul Green to a knee injury and dropped their next four games.
They were 1-4 and in a deep mire until rookie coach Ricky Stuart put his faith in an untried halfback option - Craig Wing.
The Roosters won five straight, did enough to qualify for the finals in fourth position, and then belted the New Zealand Warriors 30-8 to win the title.
The Rabbitohs are 0-4 and have lost their halfback to injury, ironically Wing, and need to get back into the groove quickly against Cronulla at ANZ Stadium on Monday or face a near impossible uphill battle to salvage their season.
Fletcher says the Roosters' early struggle in 2002 galvanised their team and it should give hope to Souths.
"Going through that tough period was probably the reason why we went so well that year," said Fletcher.
"I think we didn't want to feel like that again.
"It wasn't panic stations but I suppose Ricky thought what has he got himself into here cause it was his first year in the NRL."
The Roosters are not alone in making the most out of a bad situation, but were certainly the most successful.
Brisbane were 0-5 in 1999 and plunged even deeper into despair to have just one win and a draw from their first 10 games before an 11-match winning streak saw them sneak into eighth place.
And salvaging a season which was once lost isn't foreign territory for Souths coach Jason Taylor either.
He took control of Parramatta midway through 2006 when the Eels were 2-7 and a late nine-game winning streak led them to the finals.
Fletcher believes the Rabbitohs are not only struggling in the halves but prop Peter Cusack "is probably a bigger loss than they thought."
But he reckons they are on the verge of a break through win if they can rediscover the club spirit and confidence which carried them to last year's finals series.
"You hear about South Sydney spirit and when you don't play there you think it's all bullshit but when you get in there ... you realise what a proud history the joint has got," said Fletcher.
"I think they do have the players and I think they will come out of it.
"They have got internationals in their pack and some really good young players. I think it's only a matter of time before they get a win.
"At the moment I think they're probably just doubting themselves a little bit. I think they will win very shortly, I just think there is a resolve in there and what they did last year they should take confidence from in making the semis."