Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
Eddie Paea may have only handful of NRL games to his credit, but South Sydney skipper Roy Asotasi says the young half needs to start dishing out the orders for the Bunnies to dig themselves out of their early season hole.
The Rabbitohs slumped to an 0-2 record with Friday night's 25-12 loss to the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium, the absence of star off-season recruit Craig Wing proving telling with the home side lacking direction and imagination in the middle of the ruck.
Wing was supposed to provide that leadership on his comeback to the club, but with the former Test utility not expected to return from shoulder surgery until July, the onus has fallen to 20-year-old Paea who last night played only his sixth match in the top grade.
Asotasi acknowledged that telling the likes of himself and fellow international David Kidwell what to do could prove an intimidating exercise for the young Kiwi, but claimed until Paea found his voice, the Bunnies would continue to struggle.
"We've been working with Eddie all week - obviously there's a lot of guys that are five, six years older than him and he's looking around thinking 'I can't boss these guys around," Asotasi said.
"But we've told - 'you're the halfback, you see the game a lot better than we do, we need you to be dominant'.
"You want your half to be dominant and that's still something that Eddie's still working on and I'm sure he'll get, we just need to make sure he knows that we respect him."
Paea showed glimpses of his potential against the Roosters in round one and again last night, scoring a fine individual try to open up a 12-0 lead late in the first half.
But just as it looked like he was finding his feet, Paea, and in turn the Rabbitohs, lost their way.
"(Experience is) an issue at the club at the moment, losing Craig early was a blow - he played a major part in bringing experience for that drive in our attack and it just showed up there tonight,' Asotasi said.
"We just need to stick to what we know that's right and not try and find the easy way to beat teams.
"In the NRL there's no short cuts and experience plays a big part."
Rabbitohs coach Jason Taylor said he wasn't expecting miracles from Paea, just consistency.
"He was probably a bit like we were as a team" Taylor said of Paea's performance last night.
"The try was really good and he looked dangerous with the ball ... but there were a few kicks that weren't as good as he knows he can do and we just need to keep working there.
Souths need the Mascot Jets junior to adjust to life in the NRL now, because their season could be as good as over by the time Wing makes his return.