Blog with Hoops: The driving force behind Bunnies’ title surge — and the spray he gave everyone
- August 31, 2020 2:32pm
- JAMES HOOPER
- Source: FOX SPORTS
Sam Burgess is having a huge impact on the Rabbitohs. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett).Source: AAP
Like Bart Cummings tuning up a horse leading into the spring, the NRL’s most experienced coach Wayne Bennett is priming South Sydney for a shot at winning the club’s 22nd premiership.
And the Bunnies secret weapon is the leader who steered the club towards smashing a 43-season premiership drought in 2014 – Clive Churchill Medal winner Sam Burgess.
Since Burgess re-entered the South Sydney bubble a couple of months back, the Bunnies have gone from premiership pretenders to a title race dark horse.
Exhibit A is the 38-0 annihilation of Parramatta last Thursday - the first time Souths have beaten a top four side this season.
The Rabbitohs can make the NRL title race a field of six with an upset victory over arch-nemesis side the Melbourne Storm on Friday night.
The Storm have been the Bunnies bogey side for as long as they’ve been around with Souths only beating them in five out of 32 matches dating back to 1998.
Throw in the mutual dislike for one another shared by Bennett and Storm coach Craig Bellamy and it’s the perfect script.
When Burgess first returned into the Bunnies bubble the first thing the champion forward did was tell the forward pack they were kidding themselves.
Other sides claimed the Rabbitohs had a soft underbelly and were lacking a genuine enforcer.
It was true. Without Sam, the Bunnies were in danger of becoming a pop gun pack.
The response from the likes of Tom Burgess, Tevita Tatola, Jaydn Su’a, Bailey Sironen and Cameron Murray has been overwhelming and united.
They punished a Parramatta pack talked up as premiership contenders a couple of months back, with the Eels missing a season-high 52 tackles.
That’s more tackles than any other team has missed in a single game this season.
The other area where Burgess has been enormous is demanding more from senior players Adam Reynolds, Cody Walker and Damien Cook.
This trio were only just getting a pass mark earlier in the season but over the course of the last five weeks have emerged as three of the NRL’s form playmakers.
The only thing left now is for the Bunnies to upstage the team who has given them more trouble than any other side in the modern era.
Beat Melbourne on Friday night and South Sydney are really starting to loom large at the Clock Tower.
I said in a previous post big Sammy was having an impact with the pack. Seems it has extended across to the spine.
Love his work. Could make a great head coach in the future.