Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
South Sydney coach Shaun McRae has learnt a valuable lesson since arriving at his new club - don't believe everything you hear.
McRae is preparing for his first season holding the reins of a battling club, Tim Sheens' former assistant during Canberra's glory years of the late 1980s and early '90s is the third full-time coach Souths have had since reinstatement after Craig Coleman and Paul Langmack left.
Attending the launch of Souths' February 19 Charity Shield clash against the Dragons, McRae admitted he had low expectations for his new club after hearing pessimistic feedback from "un-named people" about the Redfern outfit.
"I think it's actually better than what I thought it would be because when I was in the UK and accepted the job, a few people painted this picture and I may have added to that picture as well," McRae said.
"But when I've actually come and looked around and met the guys and understood the passion in the club, which I think you can do when you're inside an organisation rather than from the outside looking in, I think things look pretty rosy, I think things look good for the future."
Souths captain Bryan Fletcher said his new coach was not the type for ranting and raving.
"He doesn't say too much actually," Fletcher said.
"I think he's just trying to feel his way in, but between him and Artie (assistant coach Arthur Kitinas), they complement each other very well."
McRae said he had worked hard since his arrival to eradicate the losing culture that has infiltrated the club over the last three seasons.
"I'm not under any illusions as to what the club hasn't achieved over the past few years," he said.
"We've sat down and discussed some goals and really taken in some pre-Christmas training and established some standards there.
"We're now into the more specific stage of pre-season training."
Former Souths CEO David Tapp was another to depart the club last season but McRae said the club was running smoothly under his successor, ex-Penrith boss Shane Richardson.
"I think everybody understands their role and the tasks they have to undertake for South Sydney to climb the ladder and compete on a weekly basis and earn respect," he said.
"I can't fault the guys in practice.
"But we haven't kicked a ball, we haven't passed a ball, under pressure in terms of against another side, and that's often where you're assessed and where you're judged."