Today Rob Crosby looks at the South Sydney Rabbitohs ahead of season 2017. Can they ascend the #NRL ...
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South Sydney coach Jason Taylor has made a passionate plea to fans to stick with the struggling side after its winless start to the NRL season.
The Rabbitohs have firmed into wooden spoon favourites after losing their opening three games and, along with North Queensland, are one of only two teams still on zero competition points.
The Rabbitohs, who reached last year's NRL finals in their first season under Taylor, had been tipped to be serious top eight contenders again this year.
But losses in their first three matches and injuries to key players have seen bookmakers slash the odds of the Bunnies reclaiming the dreaded prize they won three times from 2003 to 2006.
Taylor has pleaded with fans to be patient and support the team rather than turn their backs on it.
"Right now what we need is support, we need everybody to stick behind us," Taylor told fans on the club's website.
"I'm asking you, what are you going to do?
"Are you going to stick with us and understand we're working hard and we've got some young guys in there who are trying their best?
"Or are you going to decide that you want to criticise and be negative and not turn up to the games and support the team?
"The team needs you right now, we all need you ... we need to work really hard to get out of this, and we will.
"We'll come out the other side a strong team, a better team and still heading towards the semi-finals in 2008 but there's going to be a little bit of heartache in the short term."
Lasseters Sportsbook installed Souths as $3 favourites for the wooden spoon, while TAB Sportsbet and Centrebet have them at $3.25.
Penrith are on the next line of betting, ahead of Newcastle and pre-season wooden spoon favourites Canberra, who have blown out as far as $9 after winning two of their opening three games.
Taylor admitted the serious shoulder injury to Craig Wing in the opening round, which will keep the halfback out for another 10 weeks, had put their whole campaign "on the back foot".
Souths have also lost promising hooker Issac Luke for at least a month due to a broken hand suffered in last Sunday's loss to the Panthers.
But co-captain Roy Asotasi echoed the views of his coach that Souths could turn their fortunes around.
"It's definitely not one of the greatest starts to the season for us but we're not pressing the red button right now," Asotasi said.
"We're just going through our bad patch now.
"Last year we started sensational with three from three and then we lost our next couple, so hopefully it's the reverse this year.
"It's a tough competition, you've just got to persist."