Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
South Sydney centre Nigel Vagana has quashed speculation he's set to retire from the NRL.
The Rabbitohs have granted Vagana a four-week break to overcome recurring back and hamstring problems that plagued him during the off-season and limited his impact in the first round loss to the Sydney Roosters on Friday night.
It led to rumours the New Zealand international was looking to walk away from his $250,000-a-year contract but the club issued a statement on Wednesday clarifying his position.
"Rather than try and push on and play with the injuries, I'm going to take four weeks out and get myself right, which I think is best for the team," Vagana said on Wednesday.
"I didn't start pre-season training with the team until January this year after the World Cup qualifiers and the All Golds game, and my body isn't quite ready for the new season.
"I'm 33 years old and need to make sure that my body is right to play week-in and week-out."
Vagana, who joins injured star Craig Wing (shoulder) on the sidelines, believes he's not a spent force in the NRL but admitted he would contemplate retirement if he can't perform at his best every week.
"I still feel that I have a lot to offer South Sydney," he said.
"I want to be 100 per cent fit so I can help the team make it through to the finals and play my best at the business end of the season.
"At this stage retirement isn't on the cards but if it gets to a point where I can't perform at my best each week then it is something that I need to look at.
"In saying that I still feel as though I have a lot to offer and I'll be doing my best to get back on the field, 100 per cent fit, for the Rabbitohs in four weeks' time."
Eddie Paea and Ben Rogers have been named in the halves for South Sydney's clash with the Bulldogs on Friday night while winger Shannon Hegarty has been recalled to the side.
Interchange forward Jaiman Lowe and five-eighth Jeremy Smith have been dropped.