Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
36 hours ago
Likely squad: Todd Polglase, Luke MacDougall, Buddy Gordon, Adam MacDougall, Shannon Hegarty, John Sutton, Ben Walker, Peter Cusack, Stuart Webb, Scott Geedes, Joe Galuvao, Luke Stuart, Ben Rogers
Interchange: Jaimain Lowe, David Fa?alogo, Manese Manukafua, Beau Champion
The greatest strength for the Rabbitohs this season is depth. While it may not be ?quality? depth, they do have depth in numbers with players who have the ability to make the grade. Guys like Nathan Merritt, Todd Polglase, Paul Mellor, Ben Walker and Trent Young have all proven they are up to the task in first grade. This will prove a great advantage for the Rabbitohs push for a season revival.
John Sutton is one of the best young talents in the game at the moment and a lot of South?s success will be put on this young man?s shoulders. Will he be able to withstand the pressure and lead his team to victory? Only time will tell.
South Sydney?s junior development is really shining through now. Young players like Champion, Gordon, Sutton, Fa?alogo and Manukafua are all starting to come on in leaps and bounds and it should be exciting to see the new breed flow into first grade like promising players Ricardo Young, Troy Boston and Shannon McPherson.
South?s bench is one of the most underrated in the competition. It contains a lot of impact and with Joe Galuvao mentoring the likes of Fa?alogo and Manukafua, it will only bode well for the South Sydney confidence. This bench will make or break the Rabbitohs? season. They have the starting 13 to mix it up with any team in the competition, but their bench needs to stand up and be counted.
The turmoil surrounding the acquisition of the South Sydney club has to be affecting the psychology of the players. The players would have to feel like they are concentrating too much on the acquisition and not enough on football.
The Bunnies still lack one really great prop to complete their team along with a great centre. While Jaimain Lowe has potential and Adam MacDougall is a stalwart, they are not massive game breakers. The Bunnies have Michael Greenfield in reserve grade who in time will be that game breaker or Ricardo Young, but this is an issue they?ll have to address to be premiership contenders.
Ben Walker is at halfback in this team because of the way he finished off last season and he has earned the right to retain his spot. While there has been speculation Joe Williams will get first crack due to his much improved attitude at training, Ben Walker does deserve the first chance to lead this team. Unfortunately, Joe Williams has an Owen Craigie style history in that he is a great talent but we rarely see it on the field. If he can get his act together, he can be the great playmaker the Bunnies need to win matches. If he doesn?t, then that?s something the Bunnies will struggle with, because Ben Walker isn?t a premiership winning halfback.
One to Watch:
South Sydney flyer Troy Boston is my player to watch from the Bunnies. The 19 year old, 180cm and 87kg winger was regarded as one of the most talented and naturally gifted players in the junior ranks for some time until injury hindered his progression to the top grade. Prior to last season he was tipped to be the first of the young brigade to make the progression to First Grade. Unfortunately, two season-ending injuries in a row has made him one of the last should he make his debut this season.
Troy is held in high esteem within the rugby league community as one of the better young wingers in the ranks and definitely South Sydney rate him very highly. He is finally tipped to make his debut this year despite South?s buying depth in bulk. He will more than likely start the year in Premier League and will be made to earn his stripes by South?s coach Shaun McRae. There is no doubt that Troy will be a star of the future and a representative player once he gets a cemented place in the South Sydney line up. He is certainly a bright spark in what is a promising future for both himself and the club in general.
Gains and Losses:
Gains: Joe Galuvao, Jaiman Lowe, Stuart Webb, Nathan Merritt, Ben Rogers, Paul Mellor, Balin Cupples, Jack Rampling.
Losses: Ashley Harrison, Scott Logan, Bryan Fletcher, Glen Hall, Garth Wood, Lee Hookey.
I am going to go out on a limb here that could get cut off at any second. I believe the Bunnies will push the 8 and may get even deeper than that. I seriously think that the Bunnies have a solid foundation in place this season, something they have lacked for a long time. They have a solid backline with a couple of solid game breakers. Good solid halves with a decent forward pack to get on top of a match with. Also if they reach their potential, they?ll have a bench with amazing impact. I believe the Bunnies can finish between 6th ? 11th this season?.no better and no worse than that.