Energiser Bunnies - THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR THE POWERHOUSE RABBITOHS

Energiser Bunnies

NICK CAMPTON

THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR THE POWERHOUSE RABBITOHS, WRITES

NICK CAMPTON

Coach status: This is supposed to be Wayne Bennett’s last season with the Rabbitohs before he hands over the reigns to top assistant Jason Demetriou. But after two

straight trips to the preliminary final, plus an Origin series win that seemed impossible, would
anyone at Redfern complain if Bennett saddled up again?

Plenty of other clubs would jump at the chance to sign the six-time premiership winner and South Sydney’s premiership window is wide open. Demetriou is undoubtedly a first grade coach of the future and could be lost to the club if Bennett decides to stay but asking Bennett to move on has never worked out well for anybody – just ask the Broncos. What is their game plan, and how do they need to tweak: The Rabbitohs are in something of a strange spot. Three preliminary finals in a row is a fine achievement, but three preliminary final losses in a row is dangerously close to a hoodoo.

South Sydney look totally different to the side that went down to the Roosters in 2018 and have even changed a lot since their loss to the Raiders in 2019, but it’s time for them to get over the hump.

There are no more holes in the Rabbitohs’ roster, no more excuses for anything less than a premiership.

So long as injuries are kind, there is no reason South Sydney should not be in serious title contention from the jump next season.

How did they go in free agency: South Sydney made their biggest signing for 2021 before last season had even kicked off, with Queensland Origin forward Jai Arrow agreeing to join the club from the Titans.

The Rabbitohs weren’t skinny in the middle this season with Tom Burgess and Junior Tatola both improving and the club has a real find in Keaon Koloamatangi and a superstar in Cameron Murray.

But Arrow, who gives great yardage and has a wonderful offload and a strong defensive game, rounds out South Sydney’s pack nicely. With Damien Cook at hooker, a good day by the Rabbitohs forwards can make their attack almost unstoppable and with Arrow in red and green there should be few packs they can’t take down.

Jacob Host will compete for a spot at second row while Taane Milne fills out the backline depth.

Will development contract upgraded kids make an impact: Jaxson Paulo joined the Rabbitohs from the Titans mid-season last year and ended up playing 13 matches, including all three finals games. Earning a start in 2021 will be an accomplishment given the Rabbitohs’ backline depth, but Paulo proved he’s an NRL calibre player and is right in the frame to snag a spot on the right wing.

Brock Gardner has played little football in recent years due to injury but the Knights junior has a strong pedigree. The torrid backrower represented NSW Under 16s and has put on 8kg of muscle in the last year.

What players can they reinvent: Everything seems to happen to Latrell Mitchell, and it happens louder than it does to anybody else.

The fullback is a magnet for publicity, sometimes of his own doing but often times it’s out of his control.

His first season with South Sydney, and his first full year at fullback, was full of highs and lows and criticism and brilliance and everything else a player could fit into 12 months, but when the dust settled the truth was simple – Mitchell started poorly, but improved as the year went on and he gained a better feel for his new position.

Even in tough times, Mitchell’s passing was a strength of his play at fullback and for him, and Souths, to hit the next level they need to see more of the running game that made him so dangerous as a centre.

It started to come through in Mitchell’s play before a leg injury ended his year prematurely and it could be the final attacking touch for an already formidable South Sydney backline.

He doesn’t need reinvention, but if he can add this final piece there could be no stopping the Rabbitohs. Who takes the next step: Jaydn Su’A was a highly touted junior at the Broncos but was eventually superseded in the pecking order by David Fifita and lost his way before following Bennett to South Sydney.

After some tough times in 2019, Su’A improved out of sight in 2020 and by the end of the year he was the exact type of hard-nosed, brutally powerful backrower he’d always been predicted to be.

A Queensland Origin jersey was a just reward for the backrower and now there’s nothing stopping him from becoming one of the game’s better edge forwards. Keep a particular eye on his defence – Su’A is utterly without fear, and throws his body into collisions with no thought of self-preservation.

Fox Sports Lab’s Aaron Wallace says: If Souths can continue their attack from the back end of the season into the new year they may simply blast their way to a 22nd premiership.

From Round 15 onwards, the Rabbitohs averaged almost 35 points per game, even factoring in their almost inexplicable 26-16 loss to the Bulldogs.

Latrell Mitchell played only two of those games, and he had the second most try assists for the Rabbitohs all season – watch out!

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Actually looks quite nice in the paper. I have been following each day with a different team ( I get a cheap deal with being a teacher) and Souths’ page is definitely the largest.

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Great read but seriously, if Bennett comes up with that team he has lost the plot.

  1. Mitchell
  2. Johnston
  3. Graham
  4. Gagai
  5. Paulo
  6. Walker
  7. Reynolds
  8. Tatola
  9. Cook
  10. Burgess
  11. Murray
  12. Su’a
  13. Arrow
  14. Nicholls
  15. Koloamatangi
  16. Knight/Host
  17. Cartwright (Only cause he can player all over the park)
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Swap Out Paulo for Allan and looks good
Sele or Cartwright for the last bench spot.

I think Host needs to earn a spot in our 17

Why Murray in second row? Why not Arrow there? Murray is the premier lock in the game, after all.

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He’s played 2nd row & Arrow hasn’t is the most likely answer Clive, but i’d have Murray @ lock for mine. I’m starting to warm to Arrow from the bench but that leaves the other starting 2nd row spot open?

For the life of me, I just can’t see why so many are putting Arrow on an Edge.
Jai Arrow is a middle forward, full stop.
Jai Arrow has NEVER EVER started a game on the edge, 80 First-Grade games.
Plus 7 games for Queensland.

All of his games have been in the middle.

Most likely, Arrow and Burgess will start upfront.
As I have written numerous times on plenty of forums our Left-Edge is a real issue especially since Sironen departed.

Our choices are Murray, Host, Cartwright, Koloamatangi.
Tatola did play on the edge as a kid coming through the Tigers lower grades.

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1.Latrell Mitchell
2.Alex Johnston
3.Campbell Graham
4.Corey Allan
5.Dane Gagai
6.Cody Walker
7.Adam Reynolds © (gk)
8.Thomas Burgess
9.Damian Cook
10.Junior Tatola
11.Jayden Su’A
12.Cameron Murray
13.Jai Arrow
14.Keaon Koalmatangi
15.Jed Cartwright
16.Liam Knight
17.Jacob Host

18.Mark Nicholls
19.Braidon Burns
20.Hame Sele
21.Blake Taafe

Coach: Wayne Bennet

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Vote 1 for Cam Murray lock.
It is his best position so why stuff around.

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Bar injuries, the main thing that might beat us is our own weight of expectation. There’s a couple of players who don’t seem to perform that well under pressure, but I guess if anyone can get their heads right it is Wayne.
Exiting year ahead.

People would argue that Suttons best position was 5/8th, but he moved to 2nd row because it suited the team better.

Cam played 2nd row in the juniors.

The team struggled without him at lock, but that’s because we didn’t have another one… You can’t just chuck a prop there and expect them to have the same defensive coverage. Now that Arrow is here, he should start there. Cam can replace him either side of halftime.

If Murray starts at lock, he will play 60 minutes there and be off the field for a quarter of the game. If he starts on the edge, he will play between 20-30 minutes at lock but he’ll stay on the field for the duration.

The line speed and point of difference he brings to the team is too valuable to have him on the pine unless totally necessary.

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I think a question around SR is -

what sort of player is a 2021 second rower ?

Is he a

  • big bopper like the Storm have
  • 80 min tackling machine ie Gary Stevens
  • ball player ie Sutto
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all of the above :wink:

This is an excellent question Siv.

Second rowers require good defensive mobility and having the ability to help the halves when required. The other elements to a second rower vary depending on the player. Whether that’s ball playing, line running, big hitter etc. All have their merits in the position and should be selected based on the combination with their half.

Playing predominantly on the right, Reynolds typically thrives playing next to a second rower that runs good lines and hits the opposition hard enough that they don’t attack that side as much.

That’s why I think Reynolds always played his best with Sam outside of him. But atm he’s got Su’a, who has the big hits in spades and has the physicality to be a potent edge runner if he keeps working on his lines. I think that’s a good fit.

On the left we’ve got Cody, who typically thrives playing with a ball player who can run good decoys. This is why he and Sutto had a good combination, because he knew when to run a good line and would be the extra set of hands to allow Cody to play wider.

This is why I think Cam Murray fits this description to perfection. The lines he ran for Cody to slice through towards the end of the season completely sucked the opposition in and he has an excellent ball playing ability that we all know. He’s also our best offloader so I think combining him on the left edge with our best broken play runner in Cody is almost too obvious.

To top it off, Cam is a better defender than most edge second rowers helping Cody’s defence.

There’s not a defence in the comp that will hold our left side to less than 2 tries if we’ve got a fully firing Cody, Latrell, Murray and AJ on that edge.

10 Likes

Mitchell
Gagai
Masters/Moga/Milne
Graham
Johnston
Walker
Reynolds
Burgess
Cook
Tatola
Sua
Cartwright
Murray

Arrow
Knight
Koloamatangi
Sele

Allan
Host
Nichols
Cook

Fuck mate, don’t say that around here.

You’ll get hunted down by the masses.

Funny how the 3 prelim losses are already being mentioned by the media in their season previews but no one here (bar a few) wants to admit that it will be a massive mental hurdle to overcome if we get there.

Disregarding it entirely is wrong, but calling it a massive hurdle is also not accurate.

A handful of our players need to make sure they’re mentally prepared for the weight of expectation. It’s more of an issue for a few individuals versus a whole team issue.

If anyone caught the podcast with Lats and Denan Kemp it’d give you an inside look to see how teams use their strike weapons. Lats said his job wasn’t to take yardage runs they wanted to keep him fresh to capitalise on opportunities and create points however, everyone is always caught up on how many meters you’re running etc.

Latrell said it was Toups job to bring the ball back and Latrell would chime in when Toups needed a break but for the most part it wasn’t his job to do the gritty work it was his job to win games and create points.

You see this with Penrith and Kikau as well he never takes yardage runs he’s used in set plays or they just toss him the ball and he creates something. I think this is how Cam should be used considering the has the line speed, tackle breaking ability, offloads and footy IQ to create opportunities.

With Arrow coming on board we have someone to do the yardage runs and tighten the middle in defence now we can afford to give Cam that strike player title and use him as Easts did Latrell or Penrith do Kikau. We saw it in a game he played at the start of the season he got a short ball off Lats and broke a tackle, got between defenders and scored a try all whilst doing so with a tonne of energy.

Lats can either go cut out to AJ who only needs an inch, short ball to Cam who can isolate defenders and break out of tackles or simply use his running game and go himself which is also a massive threat. That combination of options would be such a luxury for us, meanwhile we’d have Arrow, Tatola, Tom, Keaon, Sele, up the middle with Sua on the right side who runs great lines and can create opportunities with his footwork/offload ability, Reyno with his boot or Cody/Latrell sweeping around because both can play either side of the field, bang, bang, bang.

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I actually think Jed can cause some real havoc on that left edge. He’s a big boy and takes some stopping. He is fairly quick and mobile for an edge player.
I reckon the signings of Host and Jed probably points to Murray staying in the middle.
Maybe he might start Murray on the edge and move him back to the middle.

FMD. One thing is for sure. We have that many options and all are fairly good solid options.
They say Gardner has put on 8 kilos so just looking through the forwards on the roster I wouldn’t be worried if any of them were going to get a run.

Nichols has been the forgotten man a bit. He was really going forward well last year and had some great games for us.

He missed an important tackle in the final but that shouldn’t be a reason to discount him.

With Sua going to the next level. Murray and Arrow established Origin players and Tom being our leader we really do have a crack forward rotation and throw in the Aussie Hooker and really there are no excuses next season.
Knight, Tatola, Sele , Nichols , Mago, Jed and Host on the edge Young Gardner training the house down.

In the backs we have virtually 2 firstgrade back fives. Full of depth and quality.

FMD. Bring 2021 FFS.

Premiership should be the 1st and last goal.

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Arrow should be prop for the reasons articulated so well in the two previous posts.

If he can play prop in origin, he can play prop in grade.

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