South Sydney Rabbitohs - 2013 Preview
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have been involved in Rugby League since 1908 and while still saddled with the tag "The Pride of the League", the boys from Redfern still have not won a premiership since 1971.
In 2012 they fought their way into a preliminary final show down with the Bulldogs with this match coming off the back of an amazing season from the Rabbitohs. It started with a heart breaking last minute loss to the Roosters and ended 29 weeks later with more heartbreak as they fell to an inspiring Bulldogs - but the Redfern boys have a bright future ahead in 2013.
In recent times Michael Maguire has named Michael Crocker as the main captain for the 2013 season as he ended the experiment of a Melbourne-inspired five-man leadership group that had lasted just a year. In trial form the Rabbitohs have beaten the Papua New Guinea Residents XIII 38-12, then suffered an 18-6 loss to Newcastle in Coffs Harbour, before going on to win the Charity Shield over the Dragons 28-10 as they head into their Thursday night blockbuster against the Roosters on March 7th.
Where they can win it
As stated last year and the year before, the big key to the South Sydney Rabbitohs' success is the chemistry at 6 and 7. Their halves need to fire up again this season for them to be any chance, as they have one of the strongest line ups on paper in the competition. Their backline is speedy, agile and determined, while their forward back is bigger, stronger and tougher than most of their opposition - they almost have it all.
If Adam Reynolds and John Sutton are able to hit the park running this season, there will be a real fight for other teams to be able to bring them down especially with the likes of Greg Inglis and Beau Champion playing in their outside backs.
Where they may struggle
The Rabbitohs always struggle in keeping a rhythm to their game. When they are playing good football, they can beat anyone, but when they are playing out of sync, their whole system becomes dysfunctional from the core. They are one of only few teams who manage to play themselves out of games before they even have a chance to win, but they can also somehow play their way back into a match late. If they were to keep a stable rhythm in their game, it is anyone's guess as to how it will go.
Another key area where they may struggle is in the injury department. More recently the Rabbitohs have struggled to put a consistent team on the field week in, week out due to mounting injuries around key players. Last season it took its toll on the red and greens, with even their halfback going down in the preliminary final, and they will need to hope it does not happen again in 2013.
Rookies to watch
Luke Keary was the captain and U20 player of the year last season in the Holden Cup (formerly known as Toyota Cup) for the Rabbitohs and could be a presence around the team in 2013. His ball work has been applauded with his tiny frame and agility forcing his way through defensive lines. If injuries occur or form is lost, Maguire has this talented number 6 to call on at will and he is priming up for a long illustrious career.
Ins and Outs
Additions: Jeff Lima (Wigan), Ben Te'o (Broncos), Mitchell Bucket (Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles), Thomas Burgess (Bradford), Bryson Goodwin (Bulldogs), Beau Champion (Titans)
Losses: Eddy Pettybourne (Tigers), Dave Taylor (Titans), Scott Geddes (retirement), James Roberts (released), Adrian Ha'angana (released)
Likely team Round 1 v Roosters
1. Greg Inglis 2. Nathan Merritt 3. Matt King 4. Beau Champion 5. Andrew Everingham 6. John Sutton 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Roy Asotasi 9. Issac Luke 10. Luke Burgess 11. Ben Te'o 12. Sam Burgess 13. Michael Crocker (captain)
Interchange: 14. Nathan Peats 15. Jason Clark 16. Jeff Lima 17. Chris McQueen