Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
There's a new coach, GI is back and Dane Gagai joins the backline. Justin Davies looks at how the Bunnies will bounce back in 2018.
New year, new Rabbitohs. After another season of disappointment after their 2014 triumph, the 'pride of the league' decided that a new direction was needed - enter Anthony Seibold. The rookie coach has cleared the decks of the playing squad, and brought in some exciting prospects in Dane Gagai and Jacob Gagan to supplement their core.
Outside of their new lick of paint, the Rabbitohs still have an exciting team that can cause a ruckus in 2018 - rattling off names like Greg Inglis, Reynolds, Walker, and the of course the many Burgess brothers will give the side enough go-forward to allow both halves to pull off some flashy plays.
The big question for the red and green is, how quickly will they gel under new head coach Seibold, and if the core of their side (I guess like a majority of NRL teams) can stay healthy - because with a tight competition, a few points can be the difference between finals or another year on the outside looking in.
When he is on song, Adam Reynolds has the ball on a string and can demoralise any team. Between himself, Walker and Inglis - they can pile on points in bunches and with a majority of their forward pack returning from last season, led by metre-eater Sam Burgess, they can dominate packs when they want. If that can happen more often than the nine times it did in 2017, Souths can sneak into the finals and once there it becomes, as the cliché says, a whole new ballgame.
An aging core that reminds you of your first car - it was a bit broken down but you're pushing it down the road enough to keep going. The infusion of new oil in the backline can only delay the inevitable - the Rabbitohs need a complete rebuild, and with big contracts to their 2014 Grand Final heroes it won't happen this season, and they may falter once again in 2018. There is also the ongoing sudoku puzzle that is the hooker position between veteran Robbie Farah and the dogged Damien Cook, the interchanging of the two could stunt the car and knock it off the road.
The key for the cardinal and myrtle relies on the health of Greg Inglis. The superstar back went down early in the last season, and the Rabbitohs tanked thereafter. If he can stay fit and resume his connection with Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker, they could be a darkhorse for the finals. A slightly more worrisome cog for the Rabbitohs is the aforementioned Reynolds - he has been injury plagued in recent years, and his kicking game is vital to the Rabbitohs success.
Despite the reshuffle, there is an open wing spot for the Rabbitohs. Youngster Tyrell Fuimaono might take first claim, the back who came through the Eels system before his move to Redfern last year. He made fifteen appearances in a hodge podge of a side, so with their full strength team, the powerful Fuimaono might push into double digits for tries. Campbell Graham is another who pushed his way into the squad last year and will be keen to impress.
Gains | Dane Gagai (Knights), Jesse Arthars, Mark Nicholls & Billy Brittain (Storm), Richie Kennar (Bulldogs), Tevita Tatala (Wests Tigers)
Losses | Bryson Goodwin (Leigh), Aaron Gray (Sharks), Gabe Hamlin (Wigan), Jack Gosiewski (Sea Eagles), Sitiveni Moceidreke (Mounties), Robbie Rochow (Storm) Dave Tyrrell, Anthony Cherrington, Luke Kelly, Dane Nielsen (all released)